So I am taking an online photography class right now. In the midst of my blah’s last month in a complete creative rut, I knew I needed something to get me going again. Superhero Photo answered my call through inspiration, treasure hunts, and sharing with like-minded souls.
Of course this week, the week of evil pre-menstrual moodiness, sick kids and my own cold, is the week of self-portraits…
Naturally, I curse and mumble something along the lines of ‘F’in great…’ upon Monday mornings email. Not a good start. But the ‘class’ surprises me. The teacher shares with us her own self-portrait she took the day after having a miscarriage, and wow friends, it is so, so, raw. She goes on to tell us how grateful she is to have this photo, her version of a journal entry. In her words, “I see a girl who will be more dazzling for all of it.” I love that.
Anyways, I read this, am moved, and then promptly ignore any attempts at capturing myself.
Tuesday rolls around and wow, Brennyn and I have a doozy of a day. In the bad way. Starting with her crying, pouting, shouting through her swim lesson, we carry on to me lecturing her about how her dramatics makes everyone else miserable too (yes, I know, lectures to 2 year olds do NOT work. What can I say, the girl pressed all my buttons on this day. Sigh)
Arriving at home, we battle over food, breaking toys, spilling, and toon watching. Fed-up with each other, Brennyn actually asks to go for her nap, to which I comply readily. Her body is confused though so we have a poop, a demand for more food, and an insistence to pee on the potty (no pee ever arrives) to contend with before sleep finally arrives. When it does, I sit down at the computer to read the day’s lesson on self-portraits. This lesson though, is all rainbows and cheer which I can’t bare reading. Instead, I go to the bathroom and take my first self-portrait.
Do I look evil or just exhausted? However I look, I can tell you that it is real. That was exactly how I was feeling in that moment with no sugar-coating or pretend.
I. was. DONE.
Out of curiosity, I download the picture immediately. My first reaction may have been, “Yikes!” but quickly evolves to understanding. Yup, this is how I feel, came with the realization that yup, this is what Brennyn is seeing. And feeding off of. Which I then fed off and so our circle of misery went.
This clarity allowed me to breathe a little deeper, sink into the bad mood, and then release it. (Mostly)
Two hours later when Brennyn awakes, I approach with a smile and a hug. After acknowledging our bad morning, I suggest the sleep took away those moods and allowed for some good ones. Brennyn giggles. Our first of the day. Phew.
Upon reflection that night, I understand the power of a self-portrait. It’s an opportunity to see ourselves from a new perspective, creating space for clarity, for learning.
“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”
― Brene Brown