near death. | long island photographer | summer lyn photography

methere were three different routes she could have taken home. normally, it was the route with all the crossing guards because thats the route her mom and dad had told her to always take.

today was different. today she got her report card. mostly A’s. she was smart.  and, well, it was third grade in 1987 how hard could it be?

but there it was. the comment section. “summer can sometimes cause a disruption in class that affects the other children”.

it was true. she liked to talk. and be funny. maybe to deflect from the pain she was always feeling.

but that comment would lead to something she had felt all too common.

a hard, cold, leather belt to her bare bottom.

so that day she took a different route home. she cut through some yards and took the road less traveled. but it was the road she had always liked.  it wasn’t a straight shot to her school like the other roads.  there was a bend and at that corner was a  house with a huge pine tree in front of it. you know, those pines trees that are so large and so old and big that there is space under it you can almost just walk right under it without ducking?? but it wasn’t the tree. it was the front porch she had always looked at. it was a grey stone front porch and built into it was the mother mary… or was it jesus… all dressed like a ninja and looking down on the people with her or his arms spread open. who was that? she could never get close enough to see but she knew it was something having to do with God. she knew enough from all the bible studies and church meetings she went to with her Gramz that it was a statue of someone that could help her.

so that day with that report card she took that road and stopped and that house. it was sunny and cold. like a late spring day or early fall day when the sun can make you feel so hot that the sweat builds on the bottom of your back from your backpack but a wind in the air that can make you shiver and feel like it was a mid january day. you know, that kind of day.

she stopped at the house and went under the tree. she was wearing a long sleeve dress that hit just above her knee. and she crawled under the twigs snapped and broken under her boney knee caps. her backpack, all tattered and torn, came off and she unzipped and took out her report card.  and read and read and read. and knew she was a good kid. “I’m a good girl” summer thought. “A, A, B, A, A-, A+, B+, A, A”

why? why did the teacher have to tattle?

her eight year old eyes filled with tears and she stared down at her report card. the twigs her beginning to hurt as they stabbed and stuck onto her legs. she looked up at mary or jesus or whoever it was and prayed.

“dear god please. please don’t have my dad hit me for this. he is going to be so mad. god please. please. i pray please. i don’t want to get hit today. please”

she kissed her fingers and blew the kiss up to heaven. praying praying praying that this would be a day she could avoid the belt.

some of her tears had dropped off her cheek and fallen onto the coral colored report card. the wetness smeared some of the ink. she opened her bag and put the card back in and crawled out from under the tree.  the twigs had left imprints on her knees.  she brushed off some of the ones that had stuck to her and continued home.

it was only six or seven houses away. she could see her house from that far but she couldn’t see the driveway until she got closer.  she walked slow but she knew he would already be home. stopping and praying had delayed her arrival by a few minutes and she knew he would be home when she got there.

his truck came into view as she walked past the last house. she took a deep breath, crossed the street, walked up the driveway, opened the garage door and up the stairs to kick her shoes off on the porch. mom never let anyone wear shoes in the house so the side porch that was in the garage was always cluttered with shoes. moms sneakers- a couple pairs- covered in dark black grease from her factory job, dads old a scuffed up timberlands he wears for cutting down trees.

she showed her report card. ashamed at the comment and wondering if her prayer would work this day.

this was the first day she really knew there was a God. because he came through for her. she didn’t get the belt this day.

***

she was me. and this was my childhood. and my life as this child shaped who i am today.

shaped who i am in good ways and in bad ways.

growing up like this made me strong. made me have to be the best at everything i did. i never wanted to give my parents a reason to ground me or punish me so i excelled in sports. in school. in everything. it made me independent. i started working when i was 14 just to be out of the house. to make my own money to buy my own things. i relied on no one but summer.

and in the bad ways? sheesh. i don’t know how to love. i dont let anyone in. i don’t show emotion. i live in a bubble. i deal with things internally. on my own. i don’t ask for help from anyone for anything.

and…

thats how i crashed.

i spiraled into a depression.  and you all should know that. you should all know this is where i have been.

and i am ashamed.  i am fucking ashamed God damn it bc i am fucking summer lyn, right?!! i have my shit together right?!! i am a mom to four girls, i run the show, i run the house, i run a business. i cook. i clean. i do it all right? i inspire people, right? I’m summer. i don’t fail. I’ve never failed at anything. what the actual fuck happened to me???

everything happened to me.

after taylor was born it kind of started. and i ignored it. i kept it together. i figured it was some post partum crap. hormones! how crazy are hormones and breastfeeding and life with four kids. so i plugged along…

then my nanny left at the end of the summer. take note my nanny is also a sister to me. she is my best friends and the god mother to luccia. she’s a rock to me. but she needed full time and i supported her and that. but losing her absolutely killed me. and so my downward spiral continued. i was now flying solo and trying to do everything alone. bc i am summer and i don’t ask for help nor do i tell anyone that i think something is happening.

stephen took a new job in the fall. as a supportive wife i was so proud to be there for him to pursue something else. but a job on commission means pressure for me to make sure i do well and i can feed my kids and put clothes on their back….

my mom went into the hospital in january and nearly died. her kidneys shut down and her body became toxic. she was about eight hours from dying.

and, well, i don’t know. i just know that the winter became the spring and i was fucked up. i stopped caring about everything.(and funny enough, i kid you not, the only time i cared about ANYTHING at all was when i was holding a camera. i swear on the life of my four children the feeling i have when a camera is in my hands is undeniably euphoria… more on that later). but i couldn’t stop my brain from this feeling.  i would sit there and think “what the fuck i want to smile right now and play with my kids” but my jerk off brain wouldn’t let me!!!!!! you know what that feels like??!!! to have the mental capacity to want to something but your brain couldn’t connect to anything to let you do that??! this funk of mine now was no longer a funk.

it was depression.

i came to terms with it and saw a doctor and told her how i was felling. how i was just so “blahhhhh”, and i started medication.

well, for me the medication was shit. i plunged to rock bottom. suicidal thoughts filled my head constantly. id leave my house and go on a drive and find myself parked at the brooklyn bridge. just sitting and waiting for the guts to just get the fuck out of my car and go and just jump. to just end it and stop being a burden to everyone, that everyone would be better off without me…. and i thought the medication was supposed to make you worse before you got better or something. i didn’t know that i was supposed to say something if there were thoughts like this.

this is june now, and bam. i was rock bottom. an unsuccessful attempt at taking my life woke me the FUCK up.

who am i!!!! where am i???!!!!! how did i get here?????!!!!!!!

i stopped medication. I’m getting my God damn act together. because for crying out loud, i AM SUMMER!!!!!!

my girls need me! my husband needs me! my clients need me! everyone that needs me, i need them right back.

I’m sharing this because i know there is someone out there just like me. who had it all together and then life just crashed. I’m here too! i am with you and i understand the shit show that is life.

i am healing. i am taking life day by day and doing my talk therapy. and meditation. and talking. and exercising. and talking. talking. talking. talking. if you know me you know I’m not much of a talker of my feelings. well. not anymore. talking makes me feel so amazing and now i will talk to anyone who will listen.

i am climbing out of the dark hole that is depression. and life looks so different to me. when you think and attempt to end life and find yourself still here, you become a different person with a real different perspective. for real.

i mean, its tough to admit this to you guys. not going to lie, i hate even saying it. being weak. seeing it as weakness. i feel like a loser and a failure at life. i don’t want you guys to think I’m some loser.

i want you to accept me for this change. and love being here and stick around. i went through some SHIT.

and.

i am still here.

and i am still shooting. i postponed a lot of you. you all didn’t know why and now you do. all of you that have emailed or texted or messaged but never heard back now you know why.

as i mentioned before, having a camera in my hand is my therapy.  shooting is my therapy. i need it.

im a new person with an insane outlook on life.

this past week has been an amazing week for me. things are just coming together. healing after something like this is incredibly intense. and i want to share my journey with you. and let you know you are not alone. if anything i said tonite was sounding familiar to you YOU ARE NOT ALONE! don’t ever think it ever ever ever ever ever.

so, um…. ya. this is where i have been.

i am still alive, and on this earth for a reason. bc i am a mom. bc i am a wife. i am still alive bc i am a daughter, and a sister, and a friend.

and honestly?

i am still alive bc i am a photographer.

 

xoxo

~summer~

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