I’ve been feeling emotionally heavy lately and I haven’t been able to put my finger on it. But every year around this time I start to feel this way. And whenever I feel this way, I have a compulsion to create some art to get some of my gunky feelings out. Last night, I made something to release this gunk. Then, as I was running errands this morning, I realized the three biggest losses of my life all happened in December. And the art I made last night was a direct reflection of these three losses. In this post, I’m going to decode this work of art and share a few things with you. As it’s become abundantly clear to me that December represents both love and loss for me.
First, let me talk to you about why I love December. It’s pretty simple. I love December because I love the holidays. My family and friends have always made a big deal about the holidays and that adds to the joy. I love seeing my loved ones, I love giving gifts, I love baking holiday treats, and I love holiday music. I love it all!
One of my all-time favorite posts I’ve ever written is holiday-related, actually. It’s called, “That Benevolent Retail Goddess Who Assisted Me That One Time.” I’m very proud of this post and I highly recommend you check it out! As well as my other holiday post called, “The Eve of Christmas Inspires Altruism Every Year.”
I also really adore winter, knitwear, snow, warm beverages, and I have so many lovely memories of winters and holidays past.
MY ART FROM LAST NIGHT
Now onto the sadder bits…
I’ve mentioned before that I have used my art as a healing tool for most of my life, and it has always served me in this way.
You can read all of my art-related articles in the ART TALK section of my blog.
untitled collage @ Libby Saylor, 2022, mixed media on paper, 9″ x 12″
If you examine the collage above, you will notice there are three separate components.
- The top component comes from a photograph of my mother that I took of her in college. The part you see in this work of art is the top of her head with her reading glasses.
- The second component is a close-up of a lemon, cut in half.
- And the final component at the bottom of this composition is a banana, broken in half. I took this photograph as part of a series I did on close-ups of ooey, gooey fruit.
Don’t worry if you don’t understand what the ef is going on in my collage. Most times I really don’t understand what I create and it’s a very subconscious and intuitive process for me. But today, I was actually able to make sense of this one!
Even though December is full of love and loss for me, I think that loss is starting to outweigh the love just a wee bit as life progresses. Maybe not outweigh, but it’s catching up.
1. MY MOTHER PASSED AWAY ON DECEMBER 20, 2017
The death of a parent, and anyone for that matter, is a natural part of life. I’ve written many blog posts about death and my mother, and I have had many years to process the grief. But losing a parent is something that I’m not sure any of us gets over. It’s just too big of a thing to fully heal from. And instead, we just have to find ways to live with the grief.
2. PROBABLY MOST DEVASTATING OF ALL WAS MY MOST RECENT BREAKUP ON DECEMBER 13, 2021.
I know it sounds weird to say that my breakup was more devastating than the loss of my mother. But it really was, no offense, Mom. At least with the loss of my mother I was somewhat prepared. I had been working through my forgiveness process with her for years. And before she passed, I was able to spend quality time with her and tell her I loved her.
However, with my most recent breakup, which I detail in my blog post, “I Lost My Dream Life 12 Days Before Christmas,” I was so side-swiped. And I think the shock of a loss can be the most devastating part of the grief process. I had also been having such a beautiful holiday up until that fateful day. So this combination of love and loss in the month of December was never more true than last year.
We were together for three and a half years and lived together for two.
I once read a book called Meeting Your Half Orange and it was about finding your soulmate. Several years later I met my ex. I know this is an image of a lemon and not an orange, but you get the idea.
3. AROUND NEW YEARS EVE IN 2006, I PARTED WAYS WITH MY BOYFRIEND OF FIVE AND A HALF YEARS
This was my college boyfriend and my first love. And even though our break was so amicable, it was a major loss and very jarring. We had lived together for several of those years. And after one day, post-breakup, as I was leaving him in Florida and traveling home to Pennsylvania, my body freaked. I noticed lots of little bumps all over my hands. And by the time I reached home two days later, I was covered in full body hives. I know this was my body’s response to the loss. Several months later I wound up in the emergency room from extreme chest pain. All of my tests came back negative, and I finally realize I was suffering from a broken heart. A doctor will never diagnose this.
I took this photographic series of and ooey, gooey banana when I was with this particular boyfriend, in the Philadelphia apartment we shared.
So, you can see, if you piece together the 1-2-3 in this blog post, and match it up with my collage, the connections are pretty uncanny!
So, as this December approaches, I plan to be so very gentle with myself. From my experience with lots of loss and grief, I can say that grief runs so very deep. And it has been on my radar over the last few days because I have been much more snappy and angry than usual. At first I thought I was just a fucking asshole. But after making this work of art last night, and putting the pieces together (literally), I see now that I think my grief is just working itself out.
I’m so grateful to have such a powerful outlet for healing and processing, in both my blog and my art-making channels. And I thank you all so much for being my beautiful, goddess witnesses to everything running through me.
Have you had times in your life when you experienced love and loss at the same time? How does the month of December make you feel? And how have you dealt with losses in your life?
Speaking of loss, I would like to dedicate this post to my Aunt Lois, my mother’s only sister. Aunt Lois passed away on September 28, 2022, and I send so much love to my cousins Scott and Jeff, and my Uncle John.
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Featured photo by Tobias Tullius on Unsplash