A few points before I start... a preface of disclaimer, I guess.
- I am not writing this for attention. I hate attention. This terrifies me.
- I AM writing this because I feel/hope it will help me move past this. \
- This is the the hardest and most terrifying thing I have ever put out into the world.
So to begin with, I was married towards the end of 2008, on my Sister In-Law's Birthday to be exact. So the precise date, for the purposes of both reference and so my wife doesn't think I don't remember, was Saturday, November 29th, 2008. It was a wonderful day, obviously one of the best and proudest days of my life.
We always knew we wanted to have a child... so pretty much right away we got pregnant. We were a little surprised at how fast it happened and beyond excited. With Christmas right around the corner there was nothing more exciting than telling our families during the holidays that (on both sides) the first Grandchild / Niece or Nephew was on the way.
We knew it was early to share the news but the timing of the pregnancy and excitement of the holidays made for too tempting of a scenario- We decided to share the news even though we were very early in the first trimester. We told my family by phone (as at the time they were all living in Texas and us in New Jersey) and then headed to NY to spend Christmas with Angela's family.
To speed it up a bit we shared the news, tears of joy and excitement were shared, we toasted and celebrated. It was wonderful. I will never forget it.
Christmas Eve everything changed. Angela felt off and became symptomatic to the point where we knew that something was terribly wrong. She miscarried through Christmas and we were devastated. The holidays went from making great news even greater to make a crushing loss even more painful.
Our friends (the few who knew) were beyond supportive, as were both of our families. It fucked us up though...for a long time. Then we healed. Or tried to. I thought I did. Or at least lied to myself enough to be a supportive husband.
One night, in our tiny one bedroom place in Long Branch, I was trying to paint. It was probably a month or maybe a few months after the miscarriage. I was trying to paint something for a project (maybe a commission?) and it just wasn't working. I was tired, I was hurting from pent-up feelings and I felt horribly alone, despite Angela sitting on the couch mere feet from where I had my easel set up. I started streaking paint. It felt like pain. The paint literally felt painful as I painted line after line, mixing water and letting it drip down the canvas like tears.... Turning the canvas at no particular point in time for no particular reason... This continued for, I don't know, maybe 20 minutes, maybe an hour, maybe more or less... All the while Angela watched. I don't know if she understood or if she was just allowing it to happen. We never spoke. I finished, took it off of the easel and put it directly into the bedroom closet, facing the wall (always facing away from me) and there it stayed. Hidden.
Later in 2009 we got pregnant again with Dylan and all was right in our world. The pregnancy wasn't without hiccups but that happens when the fetus is humongous and super-active. On St. Patrick's Day of 2010, a baby the size of a toddler was born via C-Section into the world, smiling and healthy. He hasn't stopped smiling since and is the greatest thing I have ever been a part of and without a doubt the thing I am most proud of in my life.
Since the miscarriage the painting has stayed hidden, as mentioned previously, always facing the wall so I wouldn't see it. I knew it was there and knew what it looked like. I just couldn't look at it. I wouldn't. Angela, oddly always knew the location too. In fact this morning when I couldn't find it she knew off the bat that it was hidden in her closet facing the wall (of course). I found that odd. She always kept track of it's location. I'll have to ask why.
Then we moved. We've moved 4 times since then, to North Carolina and back and only during a move have I ever taken the painting out (to pack) and allowed myself to look at it. I am instantly mentally and emotionally back in that place and it is a crushing, numbing feeling. Then I pack it. We move, it goes into a closet facing the wall. I have imagined burning or painting over it many many times but never could. I don't know why. I wanted to, badly.
So now we are current. Now the hard part is over, I've spilled it all in hopes of some sort of inner peace with this. Hopefully most have stopped reading by now. I say that because that wasn't the hard part, in fact the details of the backstory were the easy part.
Only Angela has ever seen the painting but when I was at therapy last night I got into the story of this painting and my therapist suggested that perhaps I should share this painting.. just put it out there. The reason she suggested this is because when we were talking about my art and she asked if I have ever done a piece that I loved or hated, this piece came to mind as an answer to both questions. Never in my life have I painted a piece where I walked away feeling as if I'd spilled my insides onto the canvas in the way I did with this painting. I typically despise my finished product and often feel a lot of my work, although it has a "style" is purposely art that doesn't express who I am. I love drawing horror icons / characters, etc but it does nothing for me emotionally. Maybe it's time I dig into more original art. I don't know. Well, I do know and the answer is "yes". That's scary though... Back to the main purpose of this rambling and probably somewhat incoherent blog post. Below is the painting. Every time I look at it I cry. I have trouble crying. Not because of any macho thing, I just have trouble reaching the point of tears. This painting tears me apart every time I view it and I am giving it to you all in hopes I can move past it. I am no longer ashamed of it nor the pain associated with it. I no longer need what it provides... at least I hope not.
As I struggle to learn more about who I am as a person, I post this to hopefully either close completely and unburden myself from this as it's subconsciously been a ton of bricks on my back for almost 7 years now... And I am tired of carrying it.
Thank you for being a part of this moment in my life.
Write a comment
Pat Coy (Friday, 12 June 2015 16:07)
Thank you so much for sharing your story! Beautifully written - honest and brave. I am so proud of you, and so happy you took this step for yourself. In doing so, you not only help yourself to heal, but you will help others too. Like me. Know that I am sitting here, through my tears, applauding you and sending you the biggest hug. Your painting is beautiful, and my hope is that now that you have released the burden of the pain you've been pushing away, you can look at it with new eyes. It doesn't need to be hidden anymore. It was painted at such a painful time, but it is also filled with so much love for the child you never got to meet here on earth - but who you will meet one day, and who you will love forever. Love does not die.
Jamie Briggs (Friday, 12 June 2015 19:44)
Pat Coy hit the nail on the head! Things happen for a reason, people come and go and the trials, opportunities and victories are true and it's ok to show your scar tissue with the world if that helps along the way. Don't hide it... Be proud because look how far you have gone! The painting is beautiful and should be displayed as a reminder how strong love is and how at this moment you might have finally crested that mountain and able to see the other side.
Joel Robertson (Saturday, 13 June 2015 12:39)
This took guts and I admire you for putting it all out there. I'm proud to call you my friend.
B Camilli ( Daddio2) (Saturday, 13 June 2015 13:58)
I took the night to think about your writing/reflection/awakening Not to good at all this new age stuff/lingo as I call it.
You have endured so much, we do not know why, we ask the constant question, why me ? why now ? We doubt all around us when these things happen, we doubt ourselves sometimes. What you have done is not only courageous but inspiring.
When I look at your painting I see the bars of not letting ones feeling be known, but what I really see is the red, the red of the sun as you stand on a beach in the early morning , watching it break the horizon to tell us its a new day. I see the yellow of the sun as it reaches for the heavens, pushing away the night, the darkness, telling us that it will be alright, that the heaviness we carry will go away.
It is and honor/privilege not to call you my Son in Law, but my Son, life unfortunately is like a rollercoaster it takes us to the highest of highs and then for whatever reason takes down to the lowest of lows. But then what would life be if it wasn't a challenge, what you have done is meet that challenge head on with this, not allowing it to swallow you up.
Look what you have created, what you have helped bring into this world of ours, your son, he is your legacy !! When I see you with him I stand back and watch him look at you, admires you. You are his Hero - always will be
You have a talent up and above as I tell people, a talent in painting that spans all frontiers, from the portrait of Dylan that hangs in my Office, Sinatra to the Joker from Batman. I do not think you realize how gifted you are, what your paintings do for people. Wow, your talent - your creativity just blows me away.
Everyday brings something new - take time for yourself and reflect the goodness in you, what you have accomplished - You be life !!! Do not let life be you
I love you Kiddo - Big Hug
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