Inverness In Mourning, Inverness In Light, Inverness In Heart

Blog, Photography, Writing

Content Warning: Mentions of self-harm and death by suicide

 

Originally when I thought about doing photo journals for this trip, I imagined them going quite differently. I imagined a journal for each place I visited accompanied by some lines of poetry and my best photos. Instead, I’m doing this.

 

Prior to arriving in Inverness, Scotland, I received news that my friend committed suicide. I couldn’t imagine carrying on with my travels. All I could think about was going home and going to school where I could mourn and be with the people who understood my pain and what I was going through.

The last time I went through a series of losses (in high school), it ended up jumpstarting my struggles with my own mental illnesses. I knew that there was no way I could possibly go through that pain and emotional incapability again, especially when I have come so far in my healing journey. But whenever a death by suicide comes up (regardless if it’s someone close to me), it always sends me into dark spaces thinking about my own experiences and emotions.

In this particular loss, I felt helpless and as though I didn’t do enough for Al. I knew it wasn’t my fault—and couldn’t possibly be—because I did what I could for them. But these thoughts still entered my brain in waves flooding my thoughts. Dealing with loss at home is hard enough but it was even harder being with people who didn’t quite understand what I was going through because they weren’t experiencing the same thing.

My photo journals from the other parts of my trip may come later, but for now, Inverness is the most important place from my trip. It was not only the most gorgeous place I’ve ever been (and will ever go, I’m sure) but also held some of the most important revelations following the death of a friend and my need to carry on. I don’t think my words alone can express my gratuity for, love for, and experiences in this place so I’m pairing my photos in attempt to share my full experience.

This piece is entirely dedicated to Al Davey. I miss you dearly, Al, but no matter how much I write, nothing can do you justice.

 

Part One: Inverness in Mourning

While riding the train for 8 hours through the United Kingdom, I had a lot of time to really reflect and mourn. I went through waves of sadness, then waves of relief until sadness washed over me again. Until I looked out my window listening to Spotify suggested songs and saw these beautiful views. I looked up just to see the evening light over this beautiful, untouched part of the world. And in this moment a song titled, Wild World by Johnny Stimpson came on. I’d never heard the song prior to this moment but it was like a dagger through my heart. With the opening lyrics, “Everybody’s got a heart that’s bleeding/Sometimes it’s bliss, sometimes it’s pain/Everybody’s got a hurt that’s healing/It’s you and I in in the same place/Everybody’s got a loved one dying/And all of us are gonna go someday,” something clicked. I felt peace along with the realization that I needed to keep going, that I couldn’t stop.

With this renewed sense of clarity in my travels, I began to see in color again. I watched the sun set over Inverness and felt so much love for my ability to be in such a spectacular place. (Even if the timing was completely off, was there any really a good time for anything?)

 

Part 2: Inverness in Light

Exploring Inverness held the most beauty I’ve ever encountered. I was completely renewed and ready to explore local shops and find some even better photo-worthy treasures.

IMG_4365

(Photo credit goes to Beth Strong)

I had wanted this tattoo since the start of my 3 weeks abroad but I didn’t go through with it until I found Inver Ink in Inverness. After my realization of why I needed to keep going along with my lack of breath while surrounded by such beauty, I knew this is where I needed to get my tattoo. This tattoo means more than me just going and traveling. It’s my connection to my life and living and purpose. To add an extra sentimental touch, I had my tattoo artist style the “O” just as the Earth was sketched out on the album cover of Wild World.

Our second morning in Inverness, we walked 35 minutes to find this beach. We walked across a giant bridge just to spiral downward onto a rocky beach. The view from the bridge took my breath away. I was ahead of my travel mates and noticed tears stinging my eyes. I took a deep breath and put my camera down. This was the moment that I realized the meaning of life. My own exploration and going on this journey (along with others) is the reason I am here. It is the reason that I have not taken my own life and have lived through as much struggle and pain as I have. I also realized that Al wouldn’t want me to stop living because they are no longer here. In this moment, I realized that my mourning process was drastically accelerated than my other friends back home experiencing the same loss. I was having breathtaking experiences and seeing jaw-dropping sights that my words, photos, and feelings can’t even explain. I realized that while this pain from losing a friend won’t just disappear, I’ve mourned before (and will mourn again) but I know now that not only can I handle it, but I can empower myself to continue living.

There was a sign that used to say “PRIVATE NO ACCESS” but the “PRIVATE NO” was spray painted over with black paint. We continued onto the beach. My friends explored while I walked ahead. I found a place to sit. Although this wasn’t a sandy place to swim, it was the most grounding experience. I forced myself to put my camera away because I knew that no photos I would take could capture everything I was feeling and experiencing. I knew that this moment along with moments from the day before were things I never wanted to forget. This helped me solidify the love for my tattoo because I couldn’t forget this trip or this place.

 

Part 3: Inverness in Heart

We continued our adventure on the Loch Ness tour where we took a boat down Loch Ness to the Urquhart Castle and explored. I continually found myself being grounding in the sights and overwhelmed with positive emotion.

IMG_4402

Inverness provided me with so much but most importantly; after years of struggling with my own mental illnesses and symptoms including self-harm and suicidal thoughts, I found a reason to live that was bigger than any of my emotions. After the suicide of a friend, I was alive. And for the first time, I genuinely wanted to be. I finally felt free. The kind of free that, previously, I had wondered if only death could provide. Before, I was tied to my past, the pain, the negative things that I thought formed me. So now, here I am. I am alive. I am here. But above all, I want to be.

IMG_4429

(Photo credit goes to Kelly Evak)

 

Original Article Link: https://www.theodysseyonline.com/inverness

More Than Nude

Blog, Photography, Writing

Version 2

I’ve been debating about posting this photo for the past few months. Being naked has such a negative and sexual connotation and part of me feels so exposed. But this photo is one that I am incredibly proud of. I used to think of bodies as something to hide. I was jealous of the way by classmate’s slim bodies fit into Abercrombie clothing. I would squeeze my tummy and just wish it to go away. I was ashamed of the way my body curved in ways that the media didn’t portray. I struggled with being healthy up until last year. My mom always said, “I want you to be healthy and aim for that rather than to be skinny and aim for a certain weight.” And yet somewhere in my head I was trying so hard to be something out of the unrealistic media instead of myself. After my first year at college, my mental and physical health deteriorated. My unresolved mental health issues aided in the lack of motivation to help myself physically. I gained the freshman 30 that I was so adamant about losing in the first place. I became more uncomfortable in my own skin than I had ever been before. Although I had a solid hatred for my own body, I fell in love with the beauty of others. Being at college, I had realized that the media was wrong. I had seen all different types of bodies in all shapes, sizes, colors… I had a deep motivation to love my own as much as I loved other people’s. I also had a deep motivation to take care of my body and my mind more than I had before. I fell in love with not only the idea of self-care but also of self-love. I began following other people’s body positivity movements which included (mainly) women who were disabled, recovering from eating disorders, or just wanted to be empowered in their own skin. Throughout the summer, I took control of my mental health and began medication. By being happier, I had the motivation to eat healthier and became more active. My face stopped breaking out all the time, I lost most of what I had gained, I stopped looking at the sizes of what I was buying and instead focused on what looked good, but above all; I began falling in love with my own body. Eating healthy and being active made me feel good. I was no longer doing it to lose weight but I was doing it because I felt better. And since my mental health was being helped, I had the motivation to continue to take care of myself. Now, while I might not be at the weight I wanted to be at or to look the shape I wanted to be, I only find beauty in myself. This is why this image is so important to me. I took this photo to show the purity of the human form. I finally feel comfortable enough to be exposed. And I no longer think of my body as a sexual being. I no longer try to oversexualize myself because that’s not the purpose of my body and that is not me in my true form. (There is nothing wrong with being sexual but that’s just not me.) My body is my home. It is pure and beautiful and unique. It is beautiful with my scars, with my stretch marks, with my birth marks, and whatever else may be visible. This is why I’m finally able to show this photo. Because it is not a sexual photo. It is me, in a bath, taking care of myself. It is raw and it is innocent. But it is also mature. And if you aren’t able to look at this photo as the raw and innocent over the sexual than I don’t believe you should be looking. Although I’m nervous to post this photo, it is finally time for my confidence to shine through and for me to stop apologizing for something that every single one of us have.

-MAKluz

A Backyard Memorial to Those Who Couldn’t Swim

Blog, Photography, Poetry, Uncategorized

A Backyard Memorial to Those Who Couldn’t Swim: I’ve been cheated on, felt not good enough, hurt, and ghosted by people I thought cared, and so to process these emotions after living and reliving them for the past 4 years, I decided to create this memorial with one of my best friends and fellow photographers, Lily Haddox. Her and I collected mementos, created the memorial, then watched as it burned to signify a new beginning. Through poetry, creative process, digital, and film photography (coming later), here are the beautiful results. Rest in peace, I won’t miss you.

Click here to see my exciting new joint project with Lily Haddox! I’m pretty proud of the results! 🙂