At this exact time last year, my child was in the hospital after an attempted suicide. There’s no easy way to say that and I wrestled with finding the right words to express and convey what the experience was like for me. What I know is that it shook me in ways I still haven’t developed language for. It made me pause and reconsider so much about what I thought I knew.
About my child.
There is much I’ve learned in this year post suicide attempt, yet infinite amounts of things I’ve yet to learn. It’s a continual and ever-evolving journey; one I pray God graces me for. While I’m not ready to fully dive into this publicly, I wanted to offer a tidbit of wisdom that I’ve gleaned and some encouragement for souls that may be weary.
After that devastation, I struggled to find the silver lining. I struggled to be optimistic about ANYTHING. Add to the horror of that experience, the fact that when my child was released from the hospital, we all tested positive for COVID. I was forced to sit with my grief, pain, anxiousness and confusion and had no true idea of how to process any of it. What I did allow myself, was to feel every single bit of what came up. I wrestled with lunacy and my own thoughts and ideas of my life’s worthiness, my parenting skills, and my ability to properly love and care for my child. I became well versed in all the “feel good” chemicals and the different ways we could produce them in our bodies. I listened to music that strengthened me but then the same music would cause me to erupt in tears and uncontrollable sobbing. I remember most profoundly, laying in bed and feeling like I wanted it to become a black hole I could sink in to.
Since 2010, at the beginning of each year, I’ve chosen a word to indicate either an area I want to focus or grow in, or a word that I hope will convey the fullness of what I’m wishing the year to be for me. When the new year came, less than a month later, I couldn’t find a word in my mind or heart that I wanted to represent the year; mostly because I was reeling from the emotional chaos of the experience. Ask anybody who I entrusted with sharing what my family was going through during this past year, and they’ll tell you my motto was, is, and has been: “One day at a time.” A word to represent the full year? My brain couldn’t even begin to process that. All I could focus on was the day in front of me and ensuring that my child was still here to experience it.
But as the year winds down and my brain and heart allow me to process a bit more deeply, calmly and reflectively, I can see God’s hand in it, and that is where my nature of being an encourager kicks in.
One day at a time has gone from being a motto that I used to help me cope with the harshness of my reality and day to day experiences at the beginning of this year to now being something symbolically beautiful. One day at a time, I am creating art pieces that speak to and represent parts of my inner being and the growth and healing I’ve experienced on this journey. One day at a time, I am STILL allowing myself to fully feel my emotions without the need to repress or deny their existence. At times, that has made how I move slower, more thoughtful, and definitely more intentional but there is purpose in that, too. One day at a time, I am thanking God that my child is still here to experience this thing called life. One day at a time, I am believing for full and complete restoration and healing for my child. One day at a time, I am using my voice without fear. One day at a time, I am learning who I am as an artist and delving deeper into spaces of creativity that I did not know existed within me. One day at a time, I am choosing to have hope and to pursue happiness and joy. One day at a time, I am trusting that God has us, always has, and always will!
I spoke with my mom yesterday and she said something that sparked this reflection, when our conversation led to the question of whether or not I was now making a painting a day. One day at a time, I am. I am creating. I am using heavy emotional energies to produce beautiful pieces of art. I am finding ways of taking my internal expression and using art as a vessel, an opportunity, to create a narrative that more deeply expresses not only who I am and the truth of my personal experience, but the ways I find these things to connect me with the rest of humanity.
Had you told me a year ago that what started in confusion, depression and a slew of downward spirals would lead to the most therapeutic and beautiful experience of emotional expression and release I’ve ever had, I would have laughed in your face. Or maybe cried. But here I am. Here YOU are, surviving whatever challenges life has thrown at you. Whatever it is that you are carrying right now, I want you to know that there is a redemption story attached to it. I don’t know the details of your circumstances, nor do I have to. I also can’t tell you how the redemption will come, but because of what I have experienced in this past year, one day at a time, I wholeheartedly believe that redemption will come knocking at your door. I know it has mine. The question is: Will you answer? I pray so!