For so long, I did not belong to myself. I belonged to the expectations, conditioning, and programming forced upon me. My body was not mine, my thoughts were the echoes of other people’s voices. I had no choice but to surrender to the aching pain that ruled my chest. My only escape was a secret refuge inside the confines of my mind, one that I have built for myself, a sanctuary where I could escape the rest of the world. It was not the perfect place, but it was a place within the limits of my comfort zone. In my closet, encompassed by the darkness, with only a flashlight to guide the way, and with music as my only companion, I would reach for my sketchbook and pen. They would often transport me to a place of bliss and compassion. I realized then that I enjoy my own company, that solitude could be my teacher. Despite my realization, I still found myself surrounded by the loud voices that came from the outskirts of my mind, voices that deluded the delusions.
At the time, I was oblivious to the fact that the voices were not mine. Judging myself harshly, my inner critic grew stronger as I succumbed to submission. When I moved to Barcelona in 2017, I had the chance to be alone and live in real solitude. That’s when my journey started, the journey that shaped me into who I am as I paint these words today. This is an adventure that every woman should be able to experience; it is our birthright to be in solitude with our own thoughts and emotions.
When I first reached Barcelona, I was still infested with other people’s opinions about how my life should be. I was infected with emotions that did not belong to me. It seemed so hard to make decisions, and the heavy sense of uncertainty drowned me with tears of disappointment in myself and in life itself. Eventually, the tears turned numb and my heart hardened; it became a cold, bloodless vessel. My identity disappeared behind bars; she was desperately screaming to be noticed, but my attention was elsewhere.
I looked at myself in the mirror and I had forgotten who I was looking at. It was terrifying, and as the pain grew more intense, I continued to dissociate at an increasingly alarming rate. An existential crisis veered at me through a dirty glass window, and as time passed me by, I could barely recognize the tears falling from my eyes, but time was not passing in the first place. It felt infinite, or even nonexistent. Could it have been both?
I felt like a spectator of my own existence, watching my hands and body move, unaware that I was the one behind the wheel. I questioned who and what am I. Am I part of this reality or is this reality part of my ongoing imagination? Am I a brain in a vat? Everything felt surreal, reality seemed to be bent in a direction that I could not follow, not to mention understand. Years seemed to pass by, accelerating rapidly at the speed of light, breaking all the laws of physics, and fracturing our very limited understanding of time in that process. The frames on the wall changed substantially. The smoke cultivated electricity, and mirrors ruptured into paper cuts. I found myself thinking: I have met the truth that was once foreign. The deception dissolved into dark matter.
I woke up one morning feeling crisp and delighted to embark on a new day. I was overwhelmed with gratitude for acknowledging my body, and for the soft air that I was inhaling. The air caressed my center and I exhaled the undesirable.
Pain is temporary, just as life is momentary. I go through peaks and valleys with persistence; I seek light in the midst of it all. Solitude was my mentor and I became the awakened disciple. I studied patience and diligence. I examined life with appreciation. Sparks of contentment flicker through my skin as I gaze at the sky and shed a flaring, joyful tear. As I observed the tear, felt it gently moving down my cheek, time seemed to exist in the here and now.
We shouldn’t be frightened of being alone. Being brave enough to stand in the face of adversity — especially when it comes to healing and transcendence — is the most important achievement. Being able to understand certain behaviors and patterns is crucial to one’s self-development. Solitude plays an essential role in connecting us with ourselves, in the opportunity to be embraced by silence, to make space for hearing our own thoughts and feeling our true emotions.