Do you know this place?
I do. I know it so well.
I remember once my dad asked my why all my drawings had so many hearts in them. He said it with a smile; he was teasing me in the same way he used to call me “funny for a girl.”
If I could answer him now, (which I can, he just can’t answer back) I would say the reason was because I started drawing comics during a time when I was discovering Love.
It had been like I was traipsing through a world made of nice thinks like marshmallows and snowfalls and A+ report cards, Buffy the Vampire slayer, Tetris competitions, and first kisses; all sorts of things that made me feel nice.
But then suddenly, I discovered LOVE. Real LOVE. Not other-person Love, but Self Love, Spiritual Love, Existential Love. The Engine-Force-Fuel-Consciousness-Love that makes the whole of reality tumble into being and purpose and meaning and beauty. I was exploding during that time. I was fireworks on the Fourth of July and New Years and Burning Man and every other holiday put together. I was the Big Bang.
My comics haven’t had hearts in them lately. And even the ones that have, have been half-hearted. Truthfully, My comics haven’t even had comics in them lately.
Sometimes a new inspiration will flutter in my chest, or float along the horizon and I’ll barely lift my eyelids in the pretense of catching a glimpse.
Depression. That’s one word I use a lot lately, though it may be too strong for those who have the real deal. I still get out of bed. I still exercise and cook myself food. I still put on a happy face when my one-year-old neighbor comes by for a visit.
Anxiety is another word I use. Though that doesn’t feel right either for the days I stay tucked up in the corner of my couch with no energy to move, wrapped up in a soft yellow blanket listening to the voices in my head tell me everything that’s wrong with me, my choices, my options. my possibilities.
I call it Fear on a good day, Terror on a bad day. Almost all the days lately are laced with some amount of despair.
It’s like those dream sequences from old movies where the edges of the screens are clouded in white, but the white is black and it whispers things like “There’s no hope. There’s nothing you can do. There ARE things to do, but YOU can’t do them. YOU don’t have what it takes.” Many days it creeps in closer and closer until I’m afraid there will be nothing left but the blackness.
Yesterday, from that corner of the couch, I listened to half of Brené Brown’s Braving the Wilderness. She reminded me again, that Shame is The Prison: We see something in ourselves, we judge it, we shame ourselves, we hide. Then we are locked in; locked in to our own hiding place, desperately lonely and desperate to get out…
….But not desperate enough to shatter our egos on the rocks of exposure, not desperate enough to confess what’s truly going on.
I’m trying many things to help myself right now. I’m relying on more support from more friends than the smallest cheerleader at the top of the tallest pyramid. I’m taking medication. I’m altering my diet. I’m moving my body. I’m playing music. Yesterday I drew.
And now I’m choosing to share this with you. Share Shame, says Brené. Damn, It’s amazing how close those two words are to one another, isn’t it? Like the answer is right there staring us in the face.
One of the nice things about being deep in a hole, is you really can’t go down. So you might as well try stuff. Stuff that feels hard and ugly and wonky and might even blow sh*t up.
Maybe that’s where the big bang came from in the first place. Someone somewhere was finally F*!@ing fed up enough with their hiding place.