I'm writing this on my birthday eve. So many thoughts going through my mind that I can't sleep. I normally don't care much for my own birthday, but maybe because this year is 12/12/12 and also the last year being in the thirties, I'm a little emotional (?). Looking back, in the past nine years I got married, have a baby, divorced, found the love of my life, took a leap of faith and became a photographer, lost the love of my life, lost myself, then found myself... I must say, as tough as it was, the best time of my life (so far) has to be my thirties.
I got divorced when Miss V was about 2 years old. Being a stay-at-home mom with no income, I got myself in a serious financial situation. Credit card companies were calling and collection agencies were sending threatening letters, it was a frightening. Just as everything seemed to be so bad, something good was happening - I met a person and he became one of the very important persons in my life. While I was at one of my lowest points in life, he was there to guide me and to encourage me. Eventually, I stepped out of my fear and went back to the world to look for a job. Things were slowly back on track, but as a single mom and my parents being close to retire I realized a regular 9-5 admin job wouldn't be enough to provide for the family. At that time I thought, "Well, I love photography, my friends said I'm good at it, so maybe I can do that on weekends as a side job?" And that's what I did. My boyfriend at the time was very encouraging, he bought me my first camera bag, a camera strap that I was dying to have (things I didn't have the money for) and he helped me with several weddings. I had so much drive at that time, I would say yes to every job, I was out meeting and networking with all kinds of people. I looked at other people's success and I just wanted to be up there with them, not realized heading upward meant some people in my life that I loved dearly weren't enjoying the ride with me.
I had assumed that the person who was there for me when I was so vulnerable would also be there when I was going after success. Problems started rising, arguments were increasing, and eventually the relationship collapsed. I made a really really tough decision, between Miss V, my career and him, I chose to let go of him. I planted myself so deep into the relationship that when I pulled myself out I had also completely lost myself. I didn't anticipate such deep depression and so much pain. I started questioning if I did the right thing to let go, if maybe I gave up the fight too soon. I also questioned who I was as a photographer and why I didn't like my own work. It was a very confusing time. In the morning I'd have to act normal because I had family and a business to tend to, but by night I was drowned in sorrow. The pain... was unbearable. I can honestly say that I fully understand why some people choose to end their lives (not that I ever thought of taking my life) because when the soul is in so much pain, death became nothing.
For many days and months I just let myself fall and broke into pieces. I didn't fight the pain, I didn't let go of the thoughts about him, I didn't stop questioning about what I want to be as an artist, I just kept falling and falling. Just when I felt I was completely hollow, that's when magical things were happening. Without any intentions, I started meeting new friends that guided me the right way, I'd get jobs in New York that forced me to face the fear of being alone and really learned not to rely on others, I'd be photographing weddings and saw with my own eyes what true love is like. Slowly and slowly, I picked up my broken self. I picked up parts of me that were "positive" and let go of the parts that were "negative", which means I had to cut off a lot of things and people that were taking my attention away from myself. I had a lot of holes in me (still do), but I had very strong intention to fill them up with positive things. This process took more than two hard years with constant battle between the heart and the ego.
Tonight, on my very special 12/12/12 birthday eve, I am feeling emotional because I know I come a long way to get here. I can't say I've fully rebuilt myself, but I know what I want and where I want to go are getting clearer. I learned so much in the past 2-3 years, which I wish I can share everything I in details. The guidance and teachings from all the people I encountered, with some eventually became my closest friends, will always be with me. To those that wrote and expressed they're going through tough times, please remember that nothing last. Challenges, difficulties, pain and sorrow... they'll eventually go away. Don't give up on yourself.