April 6, 2015

{PERSONAL} Feeling Alive



It has been a week. A real long, hard week. Not one that I had expected or anticipated or built into my highly-detailed calendar, either. Last week, I was blindsided by news that completely devastated me and much of my community. A close friend of mine, someone who has been a source of personal inspiration, who helped conceive my entire concept of queer and femme community, who was filled with so much light and sass and unapologetic fierceness, took her own life. Death and loss is always hard, but there is something unique about the way suicide impacts the people left behind - including a multitude of questions that cannot be answered. Even if we can begin to wrap our heads around the "why," the grief is compounded with guilt and anger and the heaviest sadness. I was blown away by how friends and strangers came together to support and love one another, but it was still so much to bear. Each morning I woke up with my heart pounding out of my chest, and with the most innocent of comments triggering me into tears. And I kept thinking about her, and how I would process these feelings with her, and how she'd respond to all the public grieving. And I thought a lot about my own past with depression, and how I was so grateful to still be here. I needed more than anything to disconnect, to be with my friends who also knew her and could share in our memories and pain and grief, and who could help lift the heaviness even slightly. 

Ali and I ventured north to San Francisco, where we spent the weekend with our friend Alysia (a brilliant, soulful writer who is currently fundraising to self-publish her graphic memoir, here). We cried. We cried a lot. But we also laughed, and took in the sunshine at the top of Dolores Park, overlooking the city, and crossed the bay bridge, and climbed to the top of a hill overlooking all of Oakland and the East Bay, and indulged in dumplings and the best ice cream from Bi-Rite and Humphrey Slocombe (honey-lavender and secret breakfast, respectively), and we marched through the mission - a neighborhood which holds so many of my most transformative memories. We promised each other to feel alive and keep ourselves alive and keep our extended communities alive - because we all really need each other. And with that, my chest stopped pounding and breathing felt a little easier. 




Yesterday, Ali and I drove back down the coast. From San Francisco to Los Angeles, through Santa Cruz and through Monterey and through the forests and coastlines of Big Sur. I wanted to feel awestruck. I wanted to be reminded of all the greatness surrounding us, and of how lucky we are to be alive and experience even a tiny fraction of the magnitude of this earth. I wanted to experience the views, to treat myself to the $5 bunches of local flora from a tiny town called Moss Landing, to eat fresh avocados and to smell the crisp air that blended together sea salt and eucalyptus and drops of rain. We saw a beach full of sunbathing elephant seals, and giggled as they made their way across the sand. With so much heaviness in the previous week, I so badly needed to be surrounded by beauty and sheer positive energy - and somewhere between the hills of San Francisco  and the redwoods lining the edges of the sky and the rocky cliffs of Big Sur and the seaside that glimmered in tones of teal and cerulean blue, I found it. 

If you are struggling with your mental health and are in need of support or resources, please, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or access MentalHealth.gov to help find healthcare providers in your area.  

24 comments:

  1. This was beautiful and I'm so glad you got to have this healing weekend. Sending you all the love. xoxo

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  2. I'm so very, very sorry for your loss Nicole. Sending love and healing vibes. Thank you so very much for sharing this. <3

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  3. I'm so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing with us. <3

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  4. Nicolette, only after reading this post and getting deep in your feelings, I truly appreciate your need to have had a few days away with a change or scenery to grieve for the loss of your friend and appreciate life again. This was just as well written and heart felt post filled with beautiful nature and beautiful you inside and out. Love you my darling. Mom

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  5. Time will erode the hard feelings and leave you with only the brilliant memories to warm your heart. Glad you have found comfort in your loved ones to help you heal. Sending lots of love your way.

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  6. 3 things- 1. This is beautiful. We've all been there and you've truly found a way to put it in words and it is excellent. 2. I'm now prompted to move to California and maybe the cerulean blue sea will solve my problems too. 3. Where in the world did you get that dress?!

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  7. First, I want to say the pictures are absolutely breathtaking. Second, I am so sorry to hear of your loss. I know how it feels to lose someone close to you to suicide. It's not ever really something you get over. The way that I've coped these last 20 years is by remembering the moments we had together. The part I choose to carry with me is not the pain (even though it is there, because my soul is wounded), but those quiet moments that belong to only the two of us. I carry that love close to my heart and remind myself that no matter what happens in this lifetime, that I was once loved and I loved someone deeply.


    Depression is extremely difficult to battle through. Sometimes it is so easy to just let go instead of trying to survive. It took me a long time to see that is why people make that choice.


    Take this grief and pain inside of you and do something wonderful with it. Let her inspire some of those incredible moments you'll have in your life down the road. Remember her when those moments happen. Those are the moments you carry in your heart, because it will be just like she's there smiling with you. Make sure that those moments you two had are the moments that have its own immortality when you look at the stars above or feel the wind blow across your skin. Remember her in those moments, because her spirit will always be near to those who loved her. Big hug.


    - Michelle

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  8. so so so sory for you

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  9. Thank you for sharing this part of your life. My deepest condolences on your lost. It is soo true that you sometimes never know what someone is truly struggling with. It is a blessing that you have people around you that you care about and in turn care about you. <3

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  10. I'm very sorry for your loss. Take care.

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  11. I am so sorry for your loss. I'm encouraged by your grace even in the time of despair.

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  12. I'm very sorry for your loss. I can't even begin to imagine how that must have felt. I'm glad that you feel better now but I guess you have a long way ahead of you. I always try to focus on the good memories and the nice time I spent with the people that is no longer with me. And travelling always, always helps. It reminds us of the wonderful world we live in, it makes us feel free and eager to live life to the fullest, don't you think?
    Lots of hugs!!!
    xx,
    E.
    www.theslowpace.com

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  13. I'm terribly sorry for your loss & the communities as well.


    This very much reminded me of one of the books in the Weetzie Bat series, "Beautiful Boys", right down to eating fresh avocados. Very beautiful.

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  14. Cristina Venus SassoApril 8, 2015 at 1:58 PM

    I'm sorry to hear about your loss! stay strong love bug

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  15. I'm sorry for your loss and that you were able to find a bit of peace with family and friends.

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  16. What a terrible loss - I can't even imagine losing a friend to suicide, it would be the hardest thing. Hope the travels helped - your pictures are just stunning!

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  17. For you and for everyone who knew her, I'm so sorry for the loss of a friend and someone you were close to. I am glad though that you have people around you that helped you through the pain, and will continue to do so. This is beautifully written, and thank you for sharing and shedding light on mental health. People don't talk about it enough. You're in my thoughts!
    Always,
    Mostly Lisa

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  18. love this post..
    Super cute pictures and great dress!!

    Xxo
    Jessi Malay
    http://www.mywhitet.com
    http://www.mywhitet.com/giveaway

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  19. I've been reading your blog for a long time and this is one of the most beautiful, poignant posts I've ever read. I feel great sadness for such an inexplicable loss of life. Thank you for sharing this experience. The accompanying pictures have never been more relevant and affecting and I lost myself in the image of the magnificent sea. I know how cathartic writing is and I implore you to keep sharing in this desperately difficult time. Love xx


    www.bargainsandbeautiful.com

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  20. Gorgeous photos<3

    xo,
    Melissa
    MissyOnMadison.com

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  21. I lost my brother that way... it still hurts after 23 years but he inspured me so much on my way to self acceptance

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  22. You are so wise to have found a space to energize and find peace - I know the woman you have lost. Please accept our deepest condolences.....

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  23. Im sorry to hear of the sad news. My deepest condolences!

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