Black and White:
“It needs more contrast” was the feedback I got from a fellow photographer as we crowded around a laptop reflecting sunlight obscuring my view of the screen as it streamed in through the windows of the dining room.
“Cool, go for it” I reply, not really understanding what she meant. I take a slow mouthful of coffee; everything in this home is art, from the pottery coffee mugs to the beautiful live edge shelving. A reflection of the kind free spirited family that resides here. A few keystrokes then the adjustment of a feature in Photoshop and the black and white image comes to life. Shades of grey emanates from the screen, the blacks are starker, the whites are stronger the photograph bleeds out feeling of frustration and pain that is echoing inside of me.
“What do you think?” she casually asks
“I like it” I stammer, blood rushing to my face as my emotions build.
Seeing the world as all or nothing, love or hate, acceptance or rejection is how I interpreted many of the relationships, interactions and day to day occurrences in my life. The awareness of the black and white thinking was a turning point for me in therapy, seeing the shades of grey in situations and not reading into everything has been such a freeing experience. It is also a struggle, 31 year of doing things one way and now I am training my brain to think different, I know I will slip up, I know I will not always be successful but I feel more confident in my ability to identify my destructive behaviours before they escalate.
Its strange where therapy happens, I didn’t expect to understand so much about myself editing pictures with two friends on a idle Monday afternoon. I didn’t expect to recognize that the way I viewed the world meant that I was always looking for a winner and a loser and more often than not, I lost. The interesting thing is that life actually happens in the grey, it’s the small decisions, the little choices, the tiny arguments, the small smile, the random acts, the flick of hair, a wisp of wind, a small gestures that make up all of the richness, sadness, joy and fabric of life. The black happens, the terrible anger, hurt, pain, chaos as does the white, the joy, happiness and elation. Living in the black and white was anxiety ridden and exhausting. The grey is unfamiliar, but I am happy to be here, its so interesting being able to celebrate the little tiny emotions, to recognize that annoyance can build into monstrous anger or be dealt with as annoyance thus allowing life to go on. The grey is so beautiful, so rich, so diverse.
Maybe I should check out those 50 shades of grey books, probably have some good life lessons.