© 2017 Abbey Lee Nash

You Are Not Alone

April 30, 2018

This morning, I’m journaling in my usual spot—the left end of my couch where the springs are so well worn I sink easily into it in the early hours of the morning, draping my grandmother’s holy quilt (I use the word holy intentionally—while it is full of holes, it’s also where I feel the most secure and the most at peace). My candle is lit, and my over-sized coffee mug is nearly drained.

 

This is, without a doubt, my favorite spot in my home. But a little over two weeks ago, I had a seizure in this spot, while dozing on a lazy Friday afternoon, my daughter curled up on the other end of the couch.

 

It was a bad one. I’m not going to share the details yet—maybe not ever. While I am a firm believer that sharing one’s story helps with healing, our little family was shaken to the core by this experience, and we are choosing to share it in small doses, in the places that it will be held the most tenderly—our family and closest friends.

 

For me, one of the greatest personal losses was my sense of security. In the days after my seizure, I was so stricken with fear that I wasn’t able to rest without someone close by, watching over me. Even this spot on my couch, this sacred spot of connection with my spirit, came to represent that same fear and anxiety.

 

Desperate to change this energy in my home, I reached out to my dear friend, Bronwen Henry. I interviewed Bronwen a few months ago. You can read that interview here. I’d seen several of her paintings depicting mother elephants with their babies, and in those images, felt a tangible sense of safety and refuge. I knew that mama elephant energy was exactly what my family needed—a constant, visual reminder that we are loved, protected, held by God. 

 

On the day Bronwen delivered my painting, I curled up underneath it, cocooned in my grandmother’s holy quilt, and finally dozed. I could breathe again.

 

The painting, aptly named “Held”, now hangs on my wall, the mama elephant’s presence hovering protectively over her baby and over my writing space, my dozing spot, the place where I cuddle with and read to my children. In seeing it each morning, I am reminded that though I still struggle with fear, I am not alone.

 

In choosing to share this story, I recently discovered that someone else dealing with similar emotions found the same kind of hope and healing in the images of the painting, and I was reminded that though we often forget it, there is a thread that binds us all. Art helps us remember this connection.

 

In her book Braving the Wilderness, author Brene Brown says, “Art has the power to render sorrow beautiful, to make loneliness a shared experience, and transform despair into hope…When we hear someone else sing about the jagged edges of heartache or the unspeakable nature of grief, we immediately know we’re not the only ones in pain. The transformative power of art is in this sharing. Without connection or collective engagement…we find no liberation in it. It’s the sharing of the art that whispers ‘you’re not alone.’”

 

In eight short days, Lifeline will enter the world. The novel is about struggling through the pain and suffering of addiction and finding light and hope on the other side. Writing it made me feel like hope and healing were possible. It’s my hope that in reading it, others might find that same hope and healing.

 

You are not alone.

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