I am thrilled to be able to add a new Emotia drawing to my ongoing series! This series is and always has been an evolution of self. It’s shown so many wildly different selves that began in July of 2014, two and a half years ago. Since then, I feel like I’ve gone through so many self-facilitated changes that have had huge effects on me. Many of these have been professional or ambitious in nature, but they’ve always had a component to them that represent something about my relationship to my now-husband Ryan.
In “I Do Believe in New Beginnings,” I feel like I have unified myself. That’s why an element or more from each of the previous Emotia paintings are all represented. The feathers from “Endure,” the heart (on her shirt) from “Feelings I Don’t Want”, the light bulb from “Things Will Work Out (I Hope)”, and the fire from “Rise Again, Fighting.” I’ve still got tears and loose ends, but it all comes together now. Obviously, the giant white foof skirt is a nod to my recent marriage, which has really helped make me feel like I’ve accomplished something as a person and I’ve come together with someone who will protect me, encourage me, and strive to understand me for my whole life.
This piece then is pretty exciting in that way. I really feel like I’ve been waiting for 2017 since at least 2015, if not honestly for most of my adolescent and adult life. I have never, ever felt this whole. I feel perfectly in touch with myself. My art is thriving, my writing is thriving, my love is stable and huge and wholesome, I’ve taken control of my anxiety, and professionally, I am somewhere I’m proud to have survived – and heading somewhere I can’t believe wanted me. But they wanted me because of all this dedication I’ve put into my achievements. They saw it. They honored it.
The original Emotia piece was done because of the crazy, terrifying sense of dependence I had on my identity as Ryan’s girlfriend. It had consumed my creative energy. “Feelings I Don’t Want” was supposed to purge that sense of fearful dependence and of dishonesty towards self. I really hated myself at that point, but I didn’t know how else to strive for what I wanted. The six-month mark with Ryan was the farthest I’d gotten with another person, and I really didn’t know what I was doing.
The next paradigm shift came after I’d attempted to move out of Ryan’s apartment and into my own studio, and realized in this process that I DID want him – but I also really wanted to be myself. I’d felt beaten and bruised from our fights and my time in daycare and his time miserable at Comcast. This was just before I had started working at Palmer Lake and while Ryan was working with his ex-girlfriend, whom I desperately wanted to trust.
Not very long after that, I started graduate school and I loved my jobs and I was really coming back into my identity as myself. This is why Rise Again, Fighting, is so bold and celebratory. I was doing things for myself again – and miraculously, the man I loved still loved me for it.
The next drawing came over a year later, and plunged back into confusion and pain. It still creeps me out, because I essentially predicted my own fall hours before it happened. “Endure” continues to represent THE darkest hours in my entire life. I honestly broke. It was the one night in my life I had suicidal ideations. It was the first time I really, truly scared my fiance. I cried harder than I’d ever cried in my life – screamed, honestly. Yes, it showed how desperately I wanted to make my education at Adler work. But it also showed how terribly it wasn’t working. Things really did get better after this painting.
It hurt, and I remember sleeping on the couch at work and worrying everyone the next day – because I’d been up till 1am and had subsequently quit/postponed my grad program. I remember talking to my peers about it. To TRob and Austen and Tara and Popp. Everyone supported me and my move to save myself from that chaos. And over the year, I thought the urge to go to school would come back. But honestly, what’s happened instead is that I’ve stretched my value to myself. I’ve learned to see new ways I can push myself and grow. Hell, I survived Holland Center, and it got me to PrairieCare. Also, I decided to muster up the courage and do something about how I felt that night. Granted, it was about 9 months later, but I finally got myself to the doctor. I paid handsomely for it, but I feel like finally medicating my insane anxiety has let me control my life again. It hasn’t fixed it, but hell have I taken so much ownership over it.
That’s why the raging fire from “Rise Again, Fighting” has become beautiful spirals. I’ve found sophistication in my passion. I’ve channeled it and organized myself and matured so much. Seriously, for the first time in my life, I think I might be an adult. Yes, that means that now I get to choose that I want to fuck around with my husband and be obnoxious in public at Target, and that means I get to choose to be lazy, but it also means that I get shit done. I trust myself to accomplish the things I want. And I trust myself to keep striving for more, wanting more, finding more, and pushing myself as a person. I don’t judge myself by anybody else’s standards anymore, not even educationally. I know I’m surrounded by people who respect me in a plethora of different ways I never would have anticipated.