I first started to cross stitch 12 years ago a friend of my mother’s taught me. It was really easy. You get a fabric with enough holes in it and count out the pattern. But it wasn’t about how easy it was or knowing how to count. It was about being completely and utterly consumed. So consumed that there is no room for a single thought other than needle in, needle out , cross over and count. If you are distracted, look away, think away a stitch is dropped, and the pattern skewed. And so it was the perfect all consuming activity to replace the ex. The ex who took up four and half years of my life. And in his departure left a huge void to fill. I didn’t want him replaced by another, nor did I want him back. But I wanted the time and space he occupied in my life reclaimed. So I embroidered. I consumed myself with something other than him.
Embroidery became my therapy. And so over the last 12 years I have picked up my needle and thread and thought up patterns in times of distress. I started after him and stopped when I was ready to reengage and face the world without him. Having something to fill the time and space when there wasn’t anything else. I picked up again seven years ago when my world was turned upside down. I made a few pieces and stopped mid piece about two years later, when the world was right side up. It took me five years to finish that particular piece, and only recently. It was started in Amman and finished in Beirut. I have been embroidering like a fiend in Beirut for the last two months. A sign of distress and dissatisfaction. A sign that I needed to stop my mind and still my thoughts and consume my hands, my eyes, my head and my heart.
I have started another piece now and want to finish it and be rid of it. You see I rarely keep any of my work. When I was reflecting on that I realized that these works come from a place of sorrow and sadness and sometimes even depression. And when they are finished I give them away, and in that act make them pieces of joy. This last piece I am working on was started as a piece of joy. I wanted to turn the tables around on my act of consumption. I wanted it to be a work of joy and to be given in joy. The irony is that though it may have been a labor of love, it will now be given away in sorrow.