I have been working on this series for some time now. I was not sure what the best way to reveal these self portraits, but decided to hold off until it was complete. It is a deeply personal story but one that I felt was worth sharing.
At the age of twelve, I walked into the garage to find my mother’s lifeless body sitting in the driver’s seat of her car with the engine on and doors closed tight. “My secret” is a very personal and retrospective self portrait series documenting the emotional roller coaster one goes through after losing a parent to suicide.
Failure to See the Signs: This image is me, standing with my eyes covered…….not seeing the warning signs.
A million Little Pieces: This image is a childhood photo that I used to represent my childhood crumbling into a million pieces.
The Act: This was one of favourite images to create. This is me, in my garage….Although carbon monoxide can’t be seen or smelled, I wanted to use a cloud of “smoke” to represent it visually.
Buried in Burden: The idea behind this image hit me from left field. I saw the snow bank in a parking lot and raced home t get my camera knowing that this was the perfect way to illustrate my idea.
Failure to Bloom: This image is me, lying amongst pink carnations which are believed to have first appeared on earth from the Virgin Mary’s tears, making them symbolic of a mother’s undying love. Surrounded in pink carnations, frozen and unable to bloom. I felt that at the time of my mother’s death, that I was forced to grow up overnight. I felt responsible for my younger siblings. This image, represents my failure to bloom as a teenager.
Unanswered: This image is meaningful to me as it represents my inability at the time to express my truest thoughts and emotions about my mother’s suicide. My grandmother insisted that no one know that it was suicide due to the negative stigma associated with mental illness and we were told that if anyone asked, to say that the cause of death was a car accident. This image is me, trying to call out for help, but my calls being unanswered.
Holding on to the past: I used a doll house in this image to represent my childhood….a way to hold on to my perfect life.
Exposed: At the time, I felt that I was on display…exposed for the world to see while at the same time, not having anyone see the real me. The constant whispering I heard whenever I was in public……”that’s the girl who lost her mom”.
Cocoon: I wished that I could just curl up in a safe environment like a cocoon and hide from reality.
Broken: I wanted to illustrate the feeling of being broken…..completely…..
Tainted Reality: This image is intended to illustrate the idea that as a child losing a parent, you often feel a disconnect with your life.
Running from my reality: All I wanted to do was run….run from my fears, run from the lies……
Blindly searching for Stability: When your world is torn upside down, all you seek is stability. My life was anything but stable after losing my mother. My parents were divorced. My father was distant….my brothers and I moved from our home with our mother into a new life with our father, in a new city, with a new family. It was definitely a time of upheaval and turmoil.
Catapult to Heaven: I would often fantasize about being reunited with my mother. That it was all a mistake. I would stop dead in my tracks when a car like hers would drive by, or when someone would walk by me that resembled her. I yearned to see her again….to hear her voice…..to smell her smell……all the little things.
Inner Strength: As I embarked on my journey, the day came when the pain eased in my heart. The anger subsided. That day I knew that I would be okay…..I would be a survivor. I would hold her close to my heart forever, but I would stand on my own two feet, and embrace this life that I have been given with all that I am.