365 days since I completed the painting that started all of this.
As the year comes to an end, there's a natural want to be nostalgic and reflect, but this year, THAT painting, oh the journey it has taken me on.
This all began as a Christmas gift to myself. An easel, some canvas' and paints, to get the unrest I've been bottling up since my car accident out. This longing to create again after missing that spark that eluded me since my brain injury occurred.
Then it began to fall into place. I decided to make copies of my accident report, just in case I would ever need the original. Then doctors notes, tests, NYS disability paperwork.
Then came the things I didn't want to ever see again. Sonograms, letters, things I wanted to forget. The unbearable stuff. Those went right on the canvas. Shellacked on, making sure they would never delaminate, never see the light of day.
As this began to unravel, I realized, it was starting to torture me. Not only was I working with oil paints, which I'd never used before. But I was forcing myself to look at myself. Be honest with myself. Forcing myself to come to terms with things / situations I wasn't ready to accept. My brain injury, my inability to be a mother, the loss of family/friendships, but
the hardest: the loss of myself.
See that is what no one tells you when you sustain a Traumatic Brain Injury. How much of yourself you lose to the injury. The daily tasks that are just too difficult to do, the personality changes, the little things.
At this point, I was 5 years down the road, struggling daily, having more seizures, watching everything around me deteriorate. Holding on so tightly to everything that I didn't want to change, that it all just fell apart around me.
This was when I knew, I had to change, everything had to change. I was no longer who I was. I didn't want to be her anymore. This was all meant to be so much more.
Looking back, I was in one of the darkest places I'd ever been. That is when the painting finally began. I locked myself upstairs in my office for about a week, and forced it out. The insane mixture of emotions I had, not only with myself but with those who had left me. The promises made and shattered. The mourning of my old self. The anxiety of not knowing what this injury was going to do as I aged. Everything.
But the anger, that was more than I expected. See I result to humor to handle my sadness, my grief, my anxiety. It has been my scapegoat since childhood. My Anger has always been something I feared, as it tends to be uncontrollable. But to harness it in this painting, was life changing.
As I finally stepped away from the canvas on 12/30/18, with my grandfather's words of "This too shall pass", the hash marks adding up to eight lives lived, "timing is everything", "always", "I will not bend, I will not waiver, I promise", The "exit" sign lettering, the handicap plaquer, the texture, the scratching of the surface, the "every action has a consequence", I could finally breathe.
11:04 was the moment it all changed on 8/30/2013. Yet when I reflected on my completed work on 12/30/18, I never imagined the odyssey I was about to encounter.
365 Days later, and this is what has saved me. 11:04 - and every piece since.
Want to learn more about 11:04?
Check out Your Average Joe's Podcast below where I talk about the piece in detail: