Four years ago, after weaning off a powerful anti-anxiety medication, I had a seizure in my kitchen.
Lying on my back, I stared up at the ceiling, baffled by what was happening to me.
For months, I suffered hundreds of physical and emotional symptoms that kept me locked in a state of constant terror.
No one knew how to help me.
In February of 2014, I flew out to Arizona, to The Meadows of Wickenburg, a rehabilitation facility where I watched shattered people heal…while I remained terribly ill.
No matter what I did, my brain remained scrambled.
I had absolutely no evidence that I’d ever heal.
While in rehab, I spent a lot of time in the art room. I painted a tree and a house and a bird. A boy told me my picture was pretty, so I gave it to him.
Back in Rochester, I kept painting: hearts & animals, monsters & sad-faced girls.
My paintings got bigger and bigger. I created The State of Undress Project and connected with dozens of people, exchanging life stories and forging friendships.
Three years have passed, and I just had my very first art opening. People I’d previously only “known” online showed up and introduce themselves in person. A childhood friend I hadn’t seen in over 30 years drove over an hour to be there. My parents were there, old friends and new, and I felt loved and supported by everyone who was in attendance.
Sitting here this morning, I received payment for a commissioned painting I have not yet painted. People are buying my work. They tell me they like my goofy videos. I have travel plans to look forward to. Work plans. Artist friends who generously answer my newbie questions. Patrons who are actively collecting my paintings, if you can believe it. And yesterday, a new artist friend asked me for advice.
Recently, after completing a whimsical painting of a funny looking critter, my cousin commented that he reminded her of The Velveteen Rabbit, a book I’d many years before. Upon revisiting it, I see what she means. The book offers many lovely themes, but the one that had the most resonance for me is its reminder that It’s Important to be Real.
(Rabbit doesn’t need the garden rabbits to tell him he’s Real, and he doesn’t need the Boy to keep loving him in order to stay that way. Once he recognizes his own Realness, the Rabbit has the confidence to be his own person.)
It sounds like it’s easy, this ‘being real’ business.
But it isn’t.
And I see it now, how I’d fallen off my path.
How I’d stopped creating, stopped loving, stopped trusting the voices that guide me.
How I was surviving but not thriving.
How I was spending my days living the way others wanted me to live.
A way that wasn’t my way.
How I’d stopped being real.
The Velveteen Rabbit also reminded me to remember the people who have helped me.
(Even after he’s Real and living with the garden rabbits, the Rabbit still comes back to visit the Boy whose love gave him life. He could have easily forgotten the Boy, living in Rabbit-land, but he doesn’t. The Velveteen Rabbit teaches us to never forget the people who made us who we are, even when we’re living in two different worlds.
So I’m thanking all of you: my parents, my family, my friends ~ new and old ~ my patrons, my followers… (Even those of you who have hurt me ~ and you know who you are ~ you taught me something. I may be a slow learner, but I’ve definitely learned from you. Better late than never, eh?
It’s time to stop focusing on the past.
Why? Because it’s happening.
I’m becoming real: a full-time creative who gets to express herself in color and words.
It’s a dream come true.
Tweet me at @rasjacobson and follow me on Facebook at rasjacobson originals.