Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Dark Room

When I first started in photography, I was living in the "dark room." I was emotionally depressed...probably even in a darker place than depression.  I was physically bankrupt, with no energy reserves.  As I look back, I don't know how I survived the dark room.

Every time the phone rang, I cringed, "Now what?"  And sure enough, another drug associated crisis would send my life back into a blinding hurricane of chaos.  So much chaos that I couldn't see the next hit coming.  Years and years of it.

In between bouts of crisis, I tried to heal. The windows of time between the bouts were narrow. Sometimes, I had just a day or two. Often, not even an hour or two.

To heal, I started looking outside of the dark room.  I looked out.  Outside, I saw that there was light. I saw people, seemingly happy...seeming living "normal" lives.  I isolated in the dark room, but began to look out.

My camera helped me capture moments of light.  And when the darkness fell.....yet again...I could look at my photographs.  Looking at my captures brought light to me, even as I was living in the dark room.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Photography Saved My Life

Getting into photography saved my life.  Well, maybe it didn't actually save my LIFE.  It most certainly saved my sanity.

I got into photography in a circuitous way. Okay, not really.  I got into photography in a haphazard tangled, get lost on unmarked country roads way.

In 2006, I sold or gave away nearly everything I owned and moved to Arizona to marry.  I married in May and moved in July.  In June, my new daughter-in-law announced that she was hooked on black tar heroin.

Back then, I had no clue what that was or what I was about to endure. On the other side, I am very well schooled in the points and perils of dealing with a family member addicted to the most addictive drug known.

In Dallas, I had a fairly successful business as a speaker, writer and coach.  In Arizona, I became a taxi driver, babysitter, emotional punching bag for a crackhead whore (She needed money for drugs, of course).

My husband handled life differently than I did.  He left town on "business."  I had no "real" job anymore, so I was stuck. (Her mother lived in St. Louis, which is where we are all from...long story.)

Anyway, I learned about drugs.  I learned about jail.  I learned about drugs to combat drugs. I learned way more than I ever wanted to learn about something I never wanted to know.

Countless trips to the jailhouse, courthouse, rehabs passed...and so did the years.  Why didn't I leave? I suppose pride.  I suppose the resolve that I am not a quitter.  I suppose who knows why?

Fast over about 5 years.  Things settled down and daughter-in-law moved back to St. Louis.  That story may never be resolved. But, I became a typical least the problem is Not In My Back Yard...anymore.

Well, then another situation conscience about another issue that I married into.  Now, the issue was my new mother-in-law.  She was not really the "issue."  She was living her last days in a nursing home in Nowhere, Kansas.  No family was close by her, so she would get the once-a-year obligatory visit from each of her two sons. 

When I visited her in that disgusting, stench-filled facility, I absolutely felt ill. As a motherless child, I could not bring myself to leave her there...all alone and uncared for.  I convinced her "boys" to let me move her out to Arizona. She and her husband had vacationed yearly in Arizona. They loved the state. 

She would live out her life here.  And so she did.

But that meant that I got a new job--caretaker.  Although her funds allowed me to find a lovely assisted care apartment complex, I was with her on most days, especially when she was still lucid. She craved company. I was there.  Then, she started failing...and of course, I was there.  I was holding her hand that day and whispered, "It's okay, Momma, you can go home now."  She sighed...and early 2011.

Now, what was I to do?  For the first time in many years, I realized the time for me is now.  I didn't want to re-start my business. I was beat.  I was absolutely physically and emotionally exhausted by my circumstances.

I had always enjoyed "taking pictures" but didn't expect that I would be very good at it...but that is okay.  At that moment, I didn't care...I really didn't care about much of anything.

I picked up a point and shoot and started clicking things that gave me pleasure.  I needed to re-build my spirit and my life; and the camera was my tool.

So, yes.  Photography saved my life.