Five artists gathered to celebrate the successful reception we just had last Sunday. I handed out the checks for the sales they made. Everyone sold something, but it wasn’t the money they made that made the different. It was this, us getting together, and having a dinner together. We talked for over 3 hours, about art, work, and life in this town and many silly things. Just a few weeks ago, these artists did not know each other existed in this town. From the day I have started organizing the Artists Reception event at my gallery, it has been my dream and vision to have the five of them meet each other because each of them, individually, added so much color to the event that we had. And here we were, celebrating, and developing the new found friendship. We were ages from ten to late sixties. Their spouses and children came out too, and though I did not have anyone to accompany me, I didn’t feel alone. I felt that I had found my big, big family. I had so much fun at Panera Cafe- and that is a very symbolic thing. Panara was the place I used to come with my sister every winter I spent here in Maryland. I would come back from Hawaii during my depressive episodes to stay with my sister, and she would drag me outside on my worst mornings. Panera was often the choice of the place for our therapeutic talk and coffee.
I could not shake off the symbolic meaning of the evening while I was chatting with Marsha, one of the photographers. Of course, I didn’t choose Panera because I wanted to write some happier memories over the gloomy ones here at Panera. I can’t think that far ahead. I just picked Panera because of its convenient location and its affordability. But it turns out, it was a choice guided by the Holy Spirit. I was rewriting history. I was replacing the old with the new. Instead of sitting in the depressing silence with tears flowing from my eyes in front of my sympathetic sister, I was sitting with five artists and their families, having a nice socializing evening talking about art.
It was 8:30pm when I started driving back. I was getting used to staying up later. For almost 3 years, I have strictly observed my austere routine of going to bed before 8, and waking up at 3 am during my healing years. I have forgotten what night time felt like. Just the night before, I went riding with my friend, and it got dark on us on our way back to the car. I could hear the birds and animals making sounds in the woods, and it was so dark that we could easily bike right into a deer. I was telling him how I had just gotten over my nyctophobia just 5 years ago. I could not believe I was riding in the darkness, in the woods – the combination of two of my fear factors-, and still have fun with no fear.
It was a night that I did everything different.
“I don’t understand how some people say they need to take separate time just to focus on healing. I don’t know why you can’t continue your daily job and family obligations and gradually heal at the same time.”
Norm told me the other day when I told him about taking a personal time-out to focus on healing. We had a very strong disagreement on that one. I’ve just always believed that healing itself is a full time obligation to ourselves, and it comes first before all else. Of course family and job is important, but what if you are not healthy to take care of your family or perform well in your job? What if you don’t take care of yourself and you find yourself caught in the constant flow of needs to be meet, pains to relieve, and problems to solve, and dreading work every day of the week? How do you find time and energy for healing, if you don’t separate yourself from all things that destroy you? Some damaged people need a wholesome rehabilitation for the healing to take its root. I needed to separate myself from everything to be well again, to unlearn and break free from all the pathologic patterns and habits.
I am not saying that I am completely healed from the mania that broke out five years ago. I am still recovering. But on that evening with the artists at Panera, I’ve decided to give myself credit-for the first time!- for coming this far on this long journey of healing. I could see how much progress I have made just in less than 2 years. I was no more that sad little sister weeping and grieving at 9 in the morning. Instead, I was a business owner handing out checks to my artists, enjoying the accomplishments and the joy of being surrounded by people.
It was a night to remember forever.