What do I have to offer?
It is a question that often bubbles up within our minds when we are at our lowest. In those times, the answer that seems to echo back from the darkness is… nothing. You have nothing to offer because you are not enough.
You are not successful enough… or beautiful enough… or strong enough… or smart enough… or able enough… and on and on. This is one more insidious faces of depression and despair.
As someone with a disability, I too have sometimes found myself ensnared within our society’s prevailing narrative that people with disabilities can only ever be a burden upon others because there is nothing of worth that they have to offer. I found it was easier to push back this feeling in areas like my career where what I had to offer was obvious and tangible. In my relationships with others though—particularly when I pictured myself in a romantic relationship—it was something that I had a harder time wrapping my head around.
I remember the early hours of one morning last year when this changed for me though. I was lying beside my partner who, even in the dark, I could see was tensed and agitated in his sleep. I remember watching his tensed form for a time and then taking the hand he had stretched toward me in his sleep. When my hand touched his, much to my surprise, he unconsciously bent his whole frame to curl around our joined hands. Stefan is 6’1″ to my 3’7″ so that’s a whole lot of frame. I had this bizarre feeling of being both tiny and immense all that the same time. It was like I was a hearth that he was curling himself around as he sought the warmth and light of another soul to help him push back the darkness.
In that moment, which ultimately inspired this painting, I realized every single person, regardless of their station in life or the body that they were born into is already everything that they need to be. I was enough, just as I was… just as we all are.
All of us can offer a smile… a kind word… a shared laugh… a compassionate shoulder… a moment of connection with another person. It sounds like such an insignificant thing, but it is perhaps one of the most profound and potentially even lifesaving gifts that you can offer someone—particularly someone in need.
And someday, should I ever find myself down that spiral of “not enough” again, I can only hope that there will be someone to take my hand in the dark too.
Find your heart.
Find your hearth.
Find Your Heart(h)
Concept and Design by: Athena