Leaving the Darkness

In many personal histories there lies an instant, a moment, or a fleeting second of something bright, carefree, or sublime. Surely even in the dark, fireflies lurk; blinking rays of hope and perseverance, floating in the shadows.

There is so much that you aren’t warned of when you are a child — like how monsters aren’t myth and fairytales are fantasies. Over the course of eight years, beginning during my adolescence, I battled self-injuring and bulimia nervosa brought on due to my inability to cope with having been abused. The self-injuring began during elementary school and the bulimia started shortly thereafter in middle school. I did not know how to deal with pain or function without it. That is a tricky position to be in. One that, for a very long time, made me feel hopeless and very much alone.

I think that the scariest thing about recovery is not knowing the result or how to deal with emotions without harming oneself. I was really hard on myself and I was ashamed of everything that led to my eating disorder and self-injury. Calling myself a ”survivor” is hard; people have been through worse than what I endured, so why should I feel sorry for myself? I hear that word and I cringe when I connect it to me because it sounds like I’m making a victim out of myself. It has made me feel like I’m pitiful and can’t deal with life, and I loathe that. If I feel this way, chances are, there are other people who do as well. But… I am a survivor. What happened to me as a child should not happen to anyone and I did not deserve it. Writing that was hard for me, but then I think of the people dealing with similar things and it helps me find perspective.

This painting, Leaving the Darkness is about running away from darkness. It may seem simple enough, and maybe it is, but escaping that darkness was exhausting and so tremendously difficult for me. This painting depicts inner strength and it conveys that escaping that which is holding you back is surely possible and very much a good thing. I dedicated this piece to my beautiful husband, Ade, who stuck by me, pulled me up when I fell, and helped me to completely recover from both bulimia-nervosa and self-injuring.

Cierra G. Rowe

Cierra G. Rowe is a painter and fine artist from rural Kentucky. You may view more of her work at www.artofcierra.com/.