My first summer in Architecture school was also the first summer without my father. He had died the September previous. My summer was marked with a number of things: Grief, loneliness, a strange environment, no local support system of family or friends, dick professors, overwhelming studio-cultural shock, more knowledge and information ever given in one week/day/class/hour than I had ever experienced, anxiety attacks…the list goes on.
I started seeing a counselor on campus.
I started dating someone.
Eventually, he accused me of putting up walls and not telling him what was going on.
So, I started to tell him, and I started to rely on him, trust him, even.
The grieving process was in full swing and it was recommended by my counselor to write a letter to my father expressing what I was feeling and after two weeks of disagreeing and telling my counselor to stop playing counselor games with me (read “getting the courage to write such a letter”), I saw that it would help (and I developed the strength).
I wrote the letter. I read it to my counselor, but that didn’t help. I needed to share it with the people I cared about and who cared about me. I needed to let my family know what I was feeling and thinking because it was what they were feeling and thinking.
I mailed the letter to my mom. She let my brother and his wife read it.
I wanted this guy I was dating to read it. This was the biggest reason there were walls in the first place. I asked him to read it and his response was surprising. He said “No, that is weird.” I told him why I wanted him to read it: I want people I am close to to read this because it will help me release these emotions I am holding onto…I need to share it with people I am close to…
I was opening up the most vulnerable part of myself.
“Make photocopies and post them around the Architecture Building,” he said.