Do you BREATHE deeply?

It’s Monday again, and – like last week – I’m back to offer a new 4×4 mini-canvas and share a little anecdote.

One of the things I’ve become good at over the last 15 months is meditation. Seriously, I can sit quietly for a ridiculously long time. That’s not to say that my mind is always quiet, but sometimes I actually get to stillness. When I first started my meditation practice, I was instructed to take 3 deep breaths. I was all, “Whatever. How can this possibly help me?” So I inhaled and exhaled and inhaled and exhaled.

I was hardly in a Zen place.

My teacher put my hand on my stomach. “Breathe so your belly inflates like a balloon,” she said.

Apparently, I’d been breathing backwards all these years.

Once I mastered inhaling and exhaling, I was able to relax more fully.

BREATHE is a 4x4 mini-canvas featuring acrylic paint & texturizing medium. Just $20. Interested? Type SOLD in the comments or email me at rasjacobson.ny@gmail.com

BREATHE is a 4×4 mini-canvas featuring acrylic paint & texturizing medium. Just $20. Interested? Type SOLD in the comments or email me at rasjacobson.ny@gmail.com

Who would have thought it was possible to breathe wrong?!

So how do you begin a meditation practice? It’s easy.

1. Sit or lie comfortably.

2. Close your eyes.

3. Make no effort to control the breath; simply breathe naturally.

4. Focus your attention on the breath and on how the body moves with each inhalation and exhalation. Notice the movement of your body as you breathe. Observe your chest, shoulders, rib cage and belly. Make no effort to control your breath; simply focus your attention. If your mind wanders, simply return your focus back to your breath. Maintain this meditation practice for 2–3 minutes to start, and then try it for longer periods.

Sounds easy, right?

Mindful meditation encourages the practitioner to observe wandering thoughts as they drift through the mind. The intention is not to get involved with the thoughts or to judge them, but simply to be aware of each thought as it arises.

Through meditation, I’ve been able to see how my thoughts and feelings move in particular patterns. I have become more aware of the human tendency to quickly judge experience as “good” or “bad” (“pleasant” or “unpleasant”). With practice, an inner balance develops.

In our hurry-hurry-rush-rush world, we sometimes feel guilty when we aren’t doing something.

I’ve soooo over that. Some people pray and some people meditate. Sitting silently is one of the greatest gifts I give to myself each day.

I encourage each of you to try it. Go ahead. Do it right now. Sit quietly and feel the chair beneath you. Feel your feet pressing against the floor. How long can you sit quietly without opening your eyes?

It’s important to take a few moments each day to let go of stress and, to that end, I’m offering BREATHE today for $20.

Have you ever meditated? What was your experience like? What was the biggest surprise for you? What was the biggest frustration?

tweet me @rasjacobson

LOVE inspires art

I’ve received plenty of positive feedback regarding my art work over the last few months. What started off as a distraction – something to help me get through the days while I was in physical and emotional pain – has turned into a wee business. It’s hard for me to accept the idea that it’s okay to make money doing something I like to do, probably because I’ve always had to work ridiculously hard for the few dollars I’ve made. I think I feel a little guilty when receiving money for my canvases because I genuinely enjoy making them.

But that’s a blessing, right? To genuinely feel passionate about one’s work?!

As I heal, I see now how LOVE is the most important thing we can offer others in this life.

A heart connection.

When one operates from a place of LOVE, all of our connections are enriched.

As a way of giving back, each Monday from now until the 2015, I’ll be offering one 4″x4″ mini-canvas. For just $20, everyone can afford to have an original piece of art. (If you live in the United States, I’ll waive shipping & handling fees.)

Featuring acrylic paint & texturizing medium, LOVE, a 4"x4" canvas is just $20.

Featuring acrylic paint & texturizing medium, LOVE, a 4″x4″ canvas is just $20.

If you’re interested in purchasing this piece, email me at rasjacobson.ny@gmail.com or, if you prefer, type SOLD in the comments. I’ll contact you as soon as possible, and you can have LOVE in just a few days.

Interested in customizing a piece? Drop me a line and I’ll see what I can do.

If you’d like to see other things I’ve done, check out Rasjacobson Originals on Facebook.

Thank you so much for sticking with me, y’all. Your comments mean the world.

What’s something you do that you would feel strange accepting payment for?

tweet me at @rasjacobson

Limping Back to Life

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It is said that each year on Rosh Hashanah, “all inhabitants of the world pass before G‑d like a flock of sheep,” and it is decreed in the heavenly court “who shall live, and who shall die . . . who shall be impoverished, and who shall be enriched; who shall fall and who shall rise.”

Thirteen months ago, right before the Jewish New Year, my life fell apart and, since then, I have been forced to drastically slow down in an attempt to to settle in to this new normal.

Slowing down has been difficult for me.

Ridiculously difficult.

Probably because I was a real mover and shaker in my former incarnation, so I often feel like I’m not doing enough for my family.

I beat myself up, saying I should be able to do X easily, the way I used to.

Like it should be no big whoop.

Except, sometimes, even completing one thing on my to do list is wicked hard.

I know a few people who have been through benzo withdrawal. These good people reassure me that the burning mouth and the fatigue, the dizziness and the agoraphobia will eventually all go away.

I want to believe them.

I do.

In the meantime, I have to surrender to the idea that my life may never be the way that it was.

To accept what is right now and enjoy today.

This moment.

Right now, my cat is resting next to this keyboard. His body is relaxed, his breathing even. He is a living meditation. Nothing bothers this cat. Even when I clumsily step on him, he never makes a peep. He eats and cuddles and plays and sleeps. He isn’t concerned with the idea that he should be doing more. He just is.

I want to live like my cat, without worrying about what I should be doing.

I’m fortunate to have people who care about me: folks who continue to check in with me via telephone or Facebook. It’s easy to feel forgotten when you’ve been sick for a long time, so I’m grateful to these people who keep showing up for me.

I’m trying to stop beating myself up about the things I can’t do and congratulate myself for the little things I am able to do.

Yesterday, my husband and I went apple picking.

Apple picking has always been a family ritual. This year, however, we didn’t have our son with us. And we didn’t ride the tractor. Holding on to my husband’s arm, we walked slowly up the path to the orchard. I’ve been feeling particularly dizzy recently, feeling like I am being pushed to the left by an invisible hand. It’s a frustrating feeling, and a distressing one too.

Part way up the hill, a woman emerged from one of the rows of apples. She held a camera, and asked if we’d be willing to pose for a photograph for a nearby small town newspaper. At first, I was uncomfortable with her request. I hardly feel like my best self these days, and it’s been a long time since I’ve felt well enough to wear anything other than yoga pants. I didn’t have any makeup on and my hair was pulled back in a loose ponytail because that’s about all I can muster these days. I didn’t like posing for the camera. I felt exposed and raw. It’s hard for me to smile these days, due to the emotional blunting caused by the drug.

And yet.

I did it.

More importantly, I was there: taking in the view from the orchard, grateful to see the apple trees heavy with fruit; able to appreciate the leaves turning from green to red and yellow and brown.

I couldn’t have gone apple picking 13 months ago.

And this year, I was able to go with assistance.

This is where I am today.

Caught in an the middle place.

Desperately uncomfortable, but alive.

I’m here, limping along, like everyone else.

I’m challenging myself to write more, to paint more, to get out more… but many times, I am still too sick.

I hope that next year at this time, I’ll be able to easily attend Rosh Hashana services, to listen to the rabbis words, and feel that my life has been enriched in ways that I cannot yet imagine. For now, l’ll dip my apple into honey and wish everyone a sweet year filled with good health and happiness. If there is a reason for my suffering, I sincerely pray that it will one day end so that I can be of service to others who are going through their own dark times.

For now, apparently, it is still my time to receive.

I’m sharing a photograph of myself, the way I am right now, in hopes that one day I will be able to look at photos of myself and see how far I have come.

September 26, 2014

L’shanah Tova, everyone.

For better or for worse, what has changed for you in the last 13 months? 

Morphing From Writer to Painter

One year ago today, I swallowed my last dose of a medication that was prescribed to me by a doctor, a medication I believed was helping me with a “chemical imbalance.”

Almost immediately, I began to experience severe benzodiazepine withdrawal, a horrifying syndrome associated with stopping this class of medication. Nearly a year later, I still have symptoms, but my mind and body are definitely healing.

Over the last few months my creative muse has reappeared, pulling me away from writing, away from my busy mind, which  likes to think and dwell and ruminate. These days, my muse wants me to paint, which is cool because when I paint, I can turn off my mind and have fun getting messy with color.

And for that I am grateful.

Truly, there are no words to express my gratitude to G-d for allowing me to find a creative outlet during this ordeal.

Perhaps even more amazing is the fact that folks like and are willing to pay for my work.

Since I was (and continue to be) too debilitated to hold down a traditional job, being able to earn money by doing something I love has been fantastic for my self-confidence.

It is with great joy that I share my most recent piece with you.

ROAR, an unframed 12″x24″ acrylic painting on canvas, is ready to ship.  I’ll accept payment of $225 (+ shipping & handling) via PayPal. Leave a comment if you are interested in purchasing this piece, and I’ll contact you as soon as possible.

I completed ROAR this morning.

And it feels perfect.

Because I’m coming back to life.

I am.

It’s happening slowly.

And while I’m not quite ready to roar, I’m reconnecting with old friends and making new ones along the way, like Dorothy Gale did on her journey to Oz.

I’m healing old wounds and learning to forgive myself and others.

And I’m growing, learning to say: “I’m an artist,” the way I once said, “I’m a teacher” or “I ‘m a writer.”

It still feels strange, the way I imagine those ruby slippers felt to Dorothy when they magically appeared on her feet. This painting thing is shocking like that. I didn’t choose to become an artist; the images simply reveal themselves to me in dreams and visions and I do my best to realize them with paint.

And buttons. And ribbons. And texturizing medium. And other found items.

If you like what you see, follow me on my Facebook page, RASJacobson Originals. I post new work as it becomes available. These days, I’m doing things slowly and with great intention so I don’t become overwhelmed.

Thank you for continuing to stick with me as I heal.

What’s something you can do that no one (or very few people) know about? I wanna know!

tweet me @rasjacobson

Showing My Colors To The World

Some of you are waiting to hear my next report about how I survived the horrors of benzo withdrawal.

I know you’d like to read that I’m 100% well again.

I’m not there yet.

But…

An amazing thing has come out of this horrifying experience.

About 3 months ago, while healing in Arizona, I had the opportunity to hang out in an art room again.

I was astounded by how good it felt.

To create.

To play with colors.

Because I’d forgotten.

When I got back home, I started painting three-dimensional hearts on 4” x 4” canvases.

At first, I didn’t show my stuff to anyone.

I figured if they were good enough, I could hang them in the bathroom.

Or something.

Eventually, I got brave and posted a few photographs on Facebook.

The response was overwhelmingly positive, so I decided to try my hand at larger canvases, too.

To my surprise, people liked my weird whimsical paintings, too.

It never occurred to me that being able to create something out of nothing is one of my super powers.

All I know is that I’m committing art again.

And I’m having a great time doing it.

And people are buying what I make.

Here are a few examples of my 4″x4″ mini-canvases:

hearts

I also have greeting cards.

Based on original pieces that have been sold.

Based on original pieces that have been sold.

And here is one of my paintings.

LOVE UNBUTTONED, c. 2014

LOVE UNBUTTONED, c. 2014

If you’re interested in purchasing greeting cards or original art, or if you’d like to commission something special for someone you love, I’d be honored to make something for you.

More about the events that brought me to where I am now. Eventually.

But not today.

{This post is written in memory of Blaine and dedicated to my friends from Wickenburg, Arizona: Missy, James, Julie, Joan, John, Paula, Anthony, Jesse, Riley, Abel, Grant, Carlos, Nyki, Kris, Rob, Scott, Lauren, Frankie and Darcy.)

My Own Yellow Brick Road

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When Dorothy Gale of The Wizard of Oz started her journey down The Yellow Brick Road, she was terrified and, with the exception of Toto, completely alone. A girl whose life was turned upside down after an event that was completely out of her control, she didn’t yet know that the cyclone would bring unexpected gifts to her life. She didn’t know she’d make new friends and learn valuable lessons along the way; she was simply trying to survive. It was only later, when she felt safe and whole, that Dorothy was able to express gratitude to everyone who helped her as she limped along down life’s path.

As I tap out this post, I’m far from feeling whole, but I’m feeling well enough so that I’m able to look back at the events of last 9 months with the tiniest bit of ever-emerging perspective.

During the weeks I spent recuperating at my parents’ house last August, I paced the hall, occasionally stopping to look outside to the large picture window in their family room. It was summer – normally the season I love most – but during benzodiazepine withdrawal, I was unable to step outside to enjoy the sunshine for even a moment.

One particularly difficult afternoon, my parents’ footsteps seemed especially loud. My father had the television on full blast, and when I tried to calm myself by taking a hot bath, my mother barged in on me as I laid naked in the tub.

A few hours earlier, my mother and I had an uncomfortable exchange. She’d gone to the grocery store to buy a whole chicken and had made some homemade broth for me, which I tearfully refused. It wasn’t that I didn’t want what she had made – I did! I was starving! – but I simply couldn’t put anything in my mouth. I was sure that anything I ate was going to make my symptoms worse. When I tried to explain that I couldn’t eat the soup she’d made, my mother crossed her arms over her chest and gritted her teeth at me.

“Well,” she growled, “You can make your own food if you don’t like what I make for you.” Yanking open the refrigerator door, she pushed me toward the open compartment. I stood weeping, trying to decide which foods wouldn’t taste like poison. Everything seemed dangerous.

Standing in my mother’s kitchen, I panicked. Having already left my husband and son in hopes of finding a better place to heal, suddenly I felt I’d made a terrible mistake in coming to Syracuse. My parents did the best they could, but I needed more than they could give.

Something inside me understood I needed more than a house with a roof over it in which to heal. I needed love and patience and kindness. I needed someone to murmur encouraging words and tell me I was going to be okay.

Stepping into sweatpants, I put on my sunglasses and dared to walk across the street. As my bare feet touched the hot asphalt, I prayed to G-d the entire way, begging Him to let Gina be home.

I’m pretty sure Gina could tell something was wrong with me right away, but maybe she couldn’t. I certainly believed that anyone who felt as crazy as I did simply had to look the part on the outside.

Ever gracious, Gina pushed open the screen door and offered me a cup of tea. At that point, I was having weird fears and I confessed I was scared of tea. Without batting an eyelash, Gina offered hot water with lemon.

My hand shook the entire time we talked. I told her what was going on, that I’d stopped taking an anti-anxiety medication and that I was afraid I was losing my mind. I told her about my crippling insomnia and scary dreams.

Gina listened, remaining calm and reassuring. “Do you like massages?” she asked.

Nodding, I looked at the lemon floating inside my teacup.

Gina stood up, went into her kitchen, and opened a drawer. She copied a phone number on a tiny scrap of paper, which she handed to me.

“This place offers acupuncture and therapeutic massage and a bunch of other services,” Gina said, returning to her chair. “I think they even have a juice bar and a cafe with organic food.”

I stayed at Gina’s house for several hours that day and, again, the following day. Sitting in the safety of my old friend’s screen porch, the two of us beaded bracelets and talked quietly. Occasionally, we were joined by one of her cats or one of her children – but mostly, it was just the two of us.

Eventually, despite the fact that I was inexplicably terrified of talking on the telephone, I screwed up enough courage to dial the number on the scrap of paper and make an appointment for a massage.

Looking back now, I realize that asking my parents for help set me on a path: my old personal Yellow Brick Road, if you will. Making the difficult decision to leave my immediate family to take care of myself brought me to Syracuse, which brought me to Gina, which ultimately brought me to the next part of my journey, where I made another decision which saved my life.

At the time, I didn’t know I was on a journey.

I simply thought I was alone in Hell.

What I see now is that I  was never alone, for when we ask for help, the Universe always delivers a response.

What is a difficult personal challenge you’ve survived?

• • •

{Today, I thank my parents – Phil & Joan Schuls – for offering all they could to help me during some of my darkest hours. And I thank Regina Barnello Wright for answering the door when I came knocking.}

tweet me @rasjacobson

Just When I Think I’m Most Alone

photo via Amancay Maahs via Fotopedia

tall walls closing in around me, my

cardboard world sogging around my ears

my eyes, seeing only basements

and dirty floors and floors and floors

rising towards me and never any doors (and no

windows to climb out of) my skin and bones

boxing me in to a tiny beige package

of uncertainty where nothing is solid

except, perhaps, the darkness closing in

too fast, too fast (and

i’m praying it won’t last)

so i walk above ground, bumping against walls

insignificant against the day’s skyscrapers

where smoke drifts upward

chokes the sky, where dreams hover and die

and just when i am most alone, you

are with me, the friend

with whom i am certain to grow old

smiling secrets and i’m wondering

what could He see in me

all spotted and tough

and the walls recede:

His love is enough.

Who or what has helped pull you out of your darkest hours?

{This week, I thank Vickijo Campanaro for her ongoing, gentle support as I learn how to live courageously, and Debby Chornobil for her healing hands & encouraging heart.}

When Good Intentions Go Wrong

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Photo by Lynn Kelley. Click HERE to check out her blog!

While standing in the checkout line at the grocery store with a full cart, a woman showed up carrying a carton of milk, a tube of toothpaste, and a screaming infant.

I remembered what it was like when my son used to freak out like that. His shrieking used to make me feel jittery and self-conscious. I wasn’t in any hurry that day, and I wanted to help. “Would you like to go ahead of me?” I asked.

“Why?” the young mother accused. “Is his crying bothering you?”

“No, I just figured you have two dinky items and I have a whole cart,” I said. “You can jump ahead of me…”

“Screw you!” She frowned. “I’ll find another line.”

As she stormed off, I was bewildered. I had just wanted to help. And yet there I was, feeling strangely guilty.

Sitting in my car with the food meant to nourish my family, to fill them up, I felt completely emptied out and kind of nauseous.

I turned on the radio in my car to find NPR was running some kind of old interview with Maya Angelou. She spoke for a few minutes before she said:

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And that was all I needed.

I would not let what had happened in the grocery store ruin my day.

My intention had been to be helpful.

I had no hidden agenda.

I don’t know what was going on with that poor young mother, I only wanted her to let me help her in some small way. But maybe she felt she needed to do it all. Maybe she’d heard the same messages that I’d heard during my life. Pull yourself up by the bootstraps. Be strong. Figure it out. Maybe admitting she was struggling that day felt like failure. Maybe she felt like she sucked eggs as a mother because she didn’t know how to soothe her infant.

All I know is that one woman’s rejection is not going to stop me from trying to connect with other people.

I’m a connector: reaching out is what I do.

{For the record, you totally want to get in line behind me at the grocery store.  And if I offer you “headsies,” there are no strings attached.}

Do you have a quote that has inspires you? Please share it here!

tweet me @rasjacobson

Night Time Horrors

I love children’s books. When my son was young, I delighted in introducing him to all my favorites, but I especially loved seeing his reaction to Maurice Sendak’s “In the Night Kitchen.”

The story features young, adventurous Mickey who stirs from his bed and embarks on a strange adventure. Young Mickey is thrown into cake batter, flies across the sky, and ends up right where he started — safe in his own bed.

I always thought fancied myself to be like Mickey: brave and curious, eager for new experiences and unafraid of where they might lead. But during acute withdrawal, the world was filled with monsters. Where I once appreciated Sendak’s idea of an ever-changing landscape over which one had no control, suddenly that lack of control wasn’t fun at all.

One of the monsters I battled was insomnia. Not only was I terrorized while I was awake, but I couldn’t escape my demons even when I closed my eyes. If I was lucky enough to fall asleep, I experienced horrifying vivid nightmares, causing me to jolt awake, my heart pounding in my chest.

Click HERE to see more amazing art by Morgan Huneycutt @behance.com.

Click HERE to see more amazing art by Morgan Huneycutt @behance.com.

One night, I journaled about my nightmares, detailing them in my black and white composition notebook. The next morning, I looked at my scribbles:

A fat, yellow caterpillar with a woman’s face writhes in a thick puddle of mucous in the middle of a dark room.  The creature wears a blonde wig perched crookedly on its head. I open my mouth to scream, but no sound comes out. I try to run, but the stuff on the floor is sticky, so I cannot move. The caterpillar-woman gurgles as she moves in my direction. Her mouth is no longer a mouth; it is a dark swirling cavity. I am surprised when she stabs me, since I hadn’t noticed her huge spiny bristle filled with some kind of clear fluid. Feeling my flesh burn, I realize I’ve been poisoned and, as my clothes melt into my skin, I can do nothing but wait for the creature to devour me.

You know how you feel when you wake up after having a single nightmare? That disoriented, terrified moment when all you want is to hold onto something solid. That moment where you look for reassurance from a person sleeping next to you?

That night, I recounted 9 separate nightmares.

I read about a man with pointy teeth whose fingers turned into knives. About dark, swirling water: the place my son drowned while buckled in his infant carrier. I read about fires and hurricanes and war and plagues and famines.

Each nightmare was darker and more catastrophic than the one that preceded it.

Even scarier? I barely remembered writing about them.

I spoke with my therapist many times while I stayed at my parents’ house, and she reassured me that I was on the path to healing, that my neural pathways had to learn basic things — even things like sleep — again after having been dulled for 7 years. That my healing would take time. She was encouraging, and I was prepared to wait it out.

But after nearly 3 weeks of little to no quality sleep, the exhaustion was killing me. Though I was terrified with the idea of taking any medication to help me rest, my parents convinced me to try some of the pills my doctor had prescribed.

I should have known better.

That night, I had a rare paradoxical experience. Much like the horror in many of my nightmares, I experienced a kind of “locked-in” syndrome, where I was completely awake and yet utterly unable to move or scream. On the outside, my body was still; on the inside, I writhed and buzzed with electricity.

When the effects of the medication wore off the next day, I wandered into the kitchen to find my parents. My father greeted my brightly. “Did you sleep last night?” he asked.

I looked at him with wide eyes. “No more pills!”

• • •

{This week, I express gratitude to Monica Cassani at Beyond Meds. If you or someone you know is hypersensitive to medications, check out her blog. You are not alone! I also need to thank Val Erde, who offered support from across The Pond, and to Marna Meltzer & Michelle Goldstein for offering me hope during my darkest hours.}

What monsters have you been battling recently?

tweet me @rasjacobson

The Early Days of Benzo Withdrawal

Part III of my account regarding my struggle to survive after weaning off clonazepam, a powerful anti-anxiety medication. To read Part I, click HERE.

• • •

When it became apparent that I couldn’t take care of my most basic needs, I called my parents and begged them to allow me to heal at their house, sixty miles away from my husband and son.

They agreed, none of us imagining the mess we were getting into.

On the ride to my parents’ house, I laid flat on the backseat, crying and shivering and praying. While they talked quietly in the front of the car, I felt every bump. Every swerve. Squeezing my eyes shut, I braced myself for the wreck.

My brain — off the anti-anxiety medication and in acute withdrawal — perceived everything as a threat. I was certain I was going to die on the ride to Syracuse, and I braced myself for the car accident that I knew would end my life.

I wept with relief when my father pulled into the familiar rectangular driveway. Returning to my childhood home, I saw little had changed since I’d left over 25 years earlier: the house was truly a time capsule. The exterior was still painted gray with white trim.  The bushes – always lumpy and overgrown – had fused together to become lumpier and more unkempt. Inside, the living room featured the same gold couch; in the kitchen, the same green carpet — now splitting at the seams — sprawled before me. Faded curtains covered the windows and dusty figurines stood at attention on the shelves.

During the first few days, my parents were happy to have me home. My mother ran to the store to buy me clothes, and she made me homemade chicken soup. My father rubbed my head, trying to get me to relax.

But I was jacked up.

Stuck in a fear state, my body shook uncontrollably all the time. Unable to sleep for more than an hour or two each day, I prowled around my parents’ house, like a crazed animal.

Historically, sleep deprivation has been used as a form of torture during times of war. Going without sleep is intensely stressful — with unpredictable short and long-term effects. When I got to my parents’ house, I was already suffering from visual and auditory hallucinations, but things quickly got worse. Deprived of sleep, I lost the ability to act and think coherently.

I developed new fears.

In the pink and green bedroom of my youth, I noticed tangled extension cords, into which my parents had plugged numerous gadgets — a clock, a fan, a cellphone, a television, a lamp, and stereo components — and I obsessed about dying in a fire that I was positive was going to occur as a result of the overtaxed electrical outlets.

I worried that I would be trapped in my bedroom over the garage. The windows painted shut, I worried how I would escape when the fire started.

My father tried to convince me I wasn’t going to die.

But fear isn’t rational.

One sleepless night, I roamed from room to room, upstairs to downstairs, until finally, I went outside to sit alone in the darkness. The air was thick and hot, and I was the only person outside. I wished for a forest or a desert – someplace I could disappear.

"Moon" on behance.com. To see other work by Gunel Gasanova, click HERE.

“Moon” on behance.com. To see other work by Gunel Gasanova, click HERE.

I looked up at the moon, full and round and white, and thought to myself: I know why crazy people stare at the moon.

Because the moon didn’t burn my skin or my eyes, not like the sun did.

I thought about how I’d always loved summer. How, as a teenager, I waited for the days to unfold like a fan. How, even just one summer prior – while my friends sat in folding chairs in the shade – I’d sprawled out on the newly blacktopped driveway like a weird heat-seeking lizard. I remembered how the asphalt felt hot on against the backs of my legs, how I loved to watch my winter-white skin turn golden brown.

I remembered the days when sleep came easily, how I loved to wake slowly, surrounded by the comfort of warm sheets.

In an effort to mute my despair, I pressed one hand over my mouth and sobbed on my parents’ front step in the middle of the night, in so much physical and emotional pain, I was certain I’d never sleep again. Or see another summer.

I actually can’t believe I survived the initial days of acute withdrawal. I really cannot.

I now know many people commit suicide during withdrawal.

I don’t know why I didn’t.

That’s not true.

Even in the most horrifying depths of acute withdrawal, I had a feeling that everything was happening the way it was supposed to happen. That G-d was with me. That the Universe was supporting me. That my suffering would one day make sense.

{I’m continuing to express appreciation to the people who carried me when I couldn’t walk. These people made me realize angels walk among us; they just happen to be disguised as humans. Today I am grateful for K.B. Owen, Jess Witkins, Rishi Hein & Blanche Fenster.}