Breathing Space

When life is overwhelming, how do you escape it? Go for a joyride, meditate, or go shopping? Do you find a room and curl up like a ball and stay silent? Is your chaotic life forcing you to command action now? What can you do to find your breathing space? Where do you go? I certainly hope that you have hope. It’s a tougher world without hope and faith.

Every where you turn is:

  • negativity,
  • judgment,
  • bullying,
  • manipulation,
  • guilt,
  • anger,
  • frustration,
  • disappointment,
  • loss
  • hopelessness
  • despair
  • competition
  • greed

Can I go on? Can you fill in what I missed?

We have all encountered some if not all from my list, and it breaks my heart. I have seen too many wonderful people bogged down by these emotions, myself included. It can be difficult to shake off. How does one do that and be successful in spite of it?

Since I was a young girl I was very close to my father. A chip off the old block in many ways. He gave me a solid foundation about life and building character. He showed me that it is perfectly alright to laugh at yourself. He taught me to not take myself seriously and to never feel like the world is against me.

I was strong when I was young. I did not let people of negativity and spite affect me. I used to remind myself and say “That is their own personal issue, not mine”. It was my deep staple for a long time, yet not enough in my eyes.

Going to mass with my family was a special time of quiet reflection. I used to sit by my father and my sister sat by my mom. It was an even sitting arrangement that worked. Being so young I did not fully understand mass, but both my parents did their best to teach my sister and myself about parables and Jesus’ teachings of love, kindness, compassion and forgiveness. Once explained to me in simpler words it started to catch a hold of my heart and mind. We used to get to the church at least twenty minutes early, for a good seat and that quiet time. Even though I sat with my family I felt a breathing space of peace happened to me. I liked it a lot.

Unfortunately it came to an abrupt halt. God decided to take my dad home to be with his family. The devastation a loneliness that I felt was inconsolable. I did not speak for a long time. I stared into the walls and prayed that God would take me too. I wanted to be with my father in heaven more than I wanted earth. I was a lost girl that found her foundation crumbling. Gorilla glue couldn’t fix it.

The years went by and being alone was a usual thing, yet I felt zero breathing space. Being alone is not a simple explanation. I was alone yet I felt claustrophobic within my mind and soul. It was and still is terribly sad and I miss my father tremendously. My friends had their parents and even their grandparents, so they didn’t understand how deep my grief was. I did not blame them. I did not wish them to lose their family, yet it left me lonely, depressed and despondent. I had questions with no answers.

Luckily I got my gut punched in (metaphorically speaking) by my male friend John, who insisted strongly that I get out of myself. Two years of distancing myself with everyone wasn’t healthy. I did talk to my friends, but they became acquaintances and no longer friends. It’s nothing they’ve done, but my heart wasn’t in it. Well, John disliked it very much.

Because of him and my clumsiness, I met my first husband. Yes, we literally bumped into each other. It was quite funny because he was fine, but I wore my food, beer and grass. I was thankful that John’s wife and I wore the same size clothes so I was saved. I still get a chuckle inside when I think about that day.

I found it amazing that this handsome gentleman wanted to talk to a hopeless downer as me. I tried to get rid of him a number of times, but he kept showing up and sitting near me. His kindness reminded me of my father that I felt I had to give him a chance, as a human being.

The more I spent time with him the more I was coming out of myself, as a person and a woman. We were friends at a time when I needed one desperately. Even though he had both parents and grandparents, he took the time to help me and I was grateful for his kindness. The more things I shared about myself, the more he encouraged me to resume my hobbies and stop being catatonic. He believed and said to me “no parent wants to see their child suffer. Your father would want you to smile and get back to life”. That was a tough pill to swallow. Why? I did not know where to begin to get myself back. I was lucky to have had help in that.

I went to the art store and bought some basic art supplies. I didn’t want to overdo, yet I wanted all of it. Being in an art supply store was and still is glorious. It’s still my favorite store. I then had two people who took extra time and care to help me and be there for me in my time of sorrow. It made all the difference. As Richard and I were getting closer and I spent time at his house, I brought all my art supplies and as he worked on his computer (he brought work home sometimes) I sat on the recliner and started sketching again. It was nothing dramatic or fancy, just a start. I have always liked drawing different hairstyles, so I did some of that. It was the beginning of a beautiful and special relationship. I found my soulmate. I was bewildered and grateful to God at the same time. As I started coming out of my shell and found a hobby passion again, I had to find a breathing space place to tell my father about how I was coming along. It was extremely difficult and emotional, but I did it.

unfortunately a few short years later my Richard died unexpectedly. I was crushed again and just fell deeper into that rabbit hole. There were no ropes to help me up. John and his wife tried but I just didn’t care anymore. I put my sketchbook away and did nothing with my days. I went to work and then home. It was systemic and clinical, like a zombie.

I was saturated with space, loneliness, denial and nothing. Death is a part of life, but at that point I was too tired and lost interest in everything, especially sketching. The memories were painful.

John, his wife and daughter helped me. Being around a young girl took my mind and heart away from painful thoughts. I was grateful for Mariana as she and I spent time together doing various young girl things. It was nice and different for me.

With many disappointments, sorrow and loss, how does someone recover? Can you? In my experience I didn’t and do not see a way, but I’ve had to find a way to channel it, and I have my memories to thank. Scooping up various situations and experiences helped me to pick up the sketchbook once again. In the memory of my father, my Richard and the former me, it was time.

So I started to draw in my new portable small sketchbook. It is simple and just took my pencil out and stroked away. I’m not starting with anything complicated, like fingers or a nose…yet.

In the end I looked into the foundation of my existence which is drawing. I make time a few days a week to just draw, with no expectations or trying for perfection.

This drawing is of a woman holding the stick of a mask before putting it on. Since the mask looked relatively easy I decided to do it. I drew it freehand and I actually enjoyed it again.

Sketching is my breathing space for a chance to be me, with zero interruptions. It is lovely to have that time, especially in this busy world.

I hope to show and share more of my art soon. Every day I am falling in love with my thoughts of creating a lovely sketching photo.

How do you do?


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