My Painting "When Nobody Else Would Love Me (I Had To Learn To Love Myself)" sits on the easel. I often put it back on the easel because this concept is always a work in progress...learning to love myself. When it's not on the easel, I hang it above my bed to serve as a reminder as I sleep beneath it. Some days I don't like myself very much. Some days I really don't like myself. Some days, I'd go so far as to say I even hate myself. I'm working on it though. What I have learned is that after spending far too many years seeking that love externally, I can only truly reach down and grasp that within myself. Until I find that self-love, everything external will be futile and fleeting. Self-love is hard, but who told you love would be easy...effortless? Nothing worthwhile is easy. Anything worthwhile is going to demand hard work, dedication, and sacrifice. Try to love yourself a little more each day and a little more on the days you don't want to. Start with today.
I've had my fair share of struggles in life. Who hasn't? We've all been kicked, pushed down, bullied...some traumatized beyond belief and even pushed to the brink of death...or worse, wishing we were. I've been there several times myself and had to single-handedly pull myself back up each time. I had no back-up plan or support system. Before that happened though, I had to reach that point of death to learn just how much I wanted to live...to see just how much fight I truly had in me. When you reach that point, you may surprise yourself...you may find yourself.
Life has dealt me more than a fair share of obstacles in the forms of abuse (in varying forms), addiction, issues with mental health, almost always being on my own, facing homelessness, the suicide of my father on my mother's 21st Birthday, my own battles with suicide, the 2009 assault and battery that led to the birth of my logo and Acrylic Alchemy, a traumatic scenario where a knife was held to my throat and I was certain I was going to die, and the disappearance & suspected murder of my best friend and the woman I loved. These are just a few examples on a laundry list of shit that the universe has tested me with.
Because of (not in spite of) all of the above, I have lived a truly blessed and rewarding life. I know this...feel this because of everything I have and will continue to overcome. My journey isn't over and I know more will undoubtedly be thrown my way because I can and have continued to handle it. That's what happens. You keep fighting and as you grow stronger, more and more is thrown at you. If you couldn't handle "A", you would never be thrown "B" because you would have never reached that point in the first place. It's a matter of perspective.
In the process of my journey that is life, my struggles and traumas have taught me the value of light because I have been blinded by so much darkness for far too long. That is on me though and nobody else. I have to hold myself 100% accountable. We have to work with the hand we are dealt. It's that simple, no excuses. I can't blame someone else for my failure to simply open my eyes to that light. We all grow at our own pace and I am eternally grateful that my eyes are finally opened. My obstacles have made me strong by conditioning me to the point that I can handle anything and even what most would consider an average or shitty day is a great day for me. Learn to think of the tough days as "character building" days. Life isn't about avoiding pain. It's about learning to channel it...learning to use it to build a better you and a better world by picking those up around you that may not have someone to pick them up. Condition your strength (mental and physical) to not only pick yourself up, but your neighbor, because you may be the only person that does. Become the light and love that you wish you had. That, I believe, is my calling and the meaning of life itself.
Don't feel bad for me. You shouldn't and I don't want you to. I'm thankful for my struggles because they made me the man I am today. I learned to channel that struggle and use it as a sacrifice to create something beautiful for the world. This is the premise of my art and Acrylic Alchemy. Sometimes people don't like the things I say, do, or share. It doesn't phase me any longer though because I know at a soul level that I have finally moved into my purpose and my calling. That's when the haters will appear. I have to be true to myself and keep it raw and real. I know there is someone out there today, tonight, or tomorrow going through something similar to what I'm going through and they may not know how to deal with it. Perhaps I can provide that much need voice of comfort and priceless second of clarity that can drastically alter the course of their life forever. Perhaps I can help them find that outlet that I found for myself through painting. I always knew my purpose was going to have "pain" in it, and so it does. There is beauty in the pain though and there is beauty in helping to ease the pain of others, even if you can't ever completely ease your own.
Regardless of what you've gone through, are going through, or will go through, there is purpose for you. I know this because there is purpose for me and for so many years I convinced myself that there wasn't. The healing all starts from within. Start learning to love yourself just a little bit more each day. Fill the cracks in your life with that love, that hope, and use your fire to fuel you. We are all going to have to experience pain, you might as well use it for your benefit.
Below is a video collaboration exploring the rawness of my pain, struggle, and the beauty that can grow from those cracks.
Please check out my blog and my weekly podcast for more raw stories and content. "Sunny Side Of San Diego With Vinnie & Carini" is released each week and we try to cover the topics that truly matter...to you...to us...to the world.
Blessings & Love,
Michael Carini (Acrylic Alchemist)
*Photos and video by the lovely (and my favorite) Christa Maier and Balm In Gilead