The Mighty Logo

Man Captures Stages of His Own Self-Acceptance in Surreal Photo Series

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

Since he was a boy, photographer Rob Woodcox lived in a place he called “Cloud State.”

My mind has become pretty great at retreating to this place in what feigns to others as an overwhelming case of constant optimism,” Woodcox wrote on his blog. “Despite troubled times, taunts from others or personal ‘failures’ my brain has protected me by choosing to ‘dissociate’ and separate itself from the impact of such devastations.”

Despite having his head in the clouds, Woodcox wasn’t happy. He had friends, a career and personal fulfillment through his art, but something was missing — he was depressed, retreating from who he really was.

Something on the inside was still screaming at me to wake up, no matter how loud I played the music or ran through the trees,” he wrote.

His photo series (below) is his journey of self-discovery, moving away from a depressed, dissociative state to one of self-acceptance — of his sexual orientation and finding happiness in embracing his identity.

“If anyone out there is feeling burdened by self-denial, expectations of others, depression or just feeling down — know you are not alone,” he told The Mighty. “Know that being surrounded by true love, from yourself and others, is absolutely worth any obstacles you may face to get there.”

Here is his striking photo series:

Semblance; The outward appearance or apparent form of something, especially when the reality is different. So often we cloak ourselves and hide our true identities as a protective barrier from the world. We forget to laugh, we forget to dance, and instead we crouch in a corner of our mind that leaves us alone. This past two years I guess you could say I’ve been on a more intensive journey to finding myself.”
The Shock
The Shock: “Two years ago I had this incredibly shocking moment where I realized that so much of my life was being taken for granted.”
Clarity: “Like a foggy curtain drifting aside, a clarity began to sink into my troubled veins; the weight of sadness, confusion and longing began to wash away and were replaced with something subtle, but different. Green returned to the grass and water flowed like a sensation down my back from the collective dew dropping from the sky. It was a cold feeling, but a welcome one. I no longer had to be alone.”
Absolution: “There is a compelling moment that occurs when you finally accept forgiveness. A sense of acceptance of your existence occurs; you may be alone or you may not but everything negative seems to wash away. All at once the world seems hewn in perfect strokes of color like a masterful painting. It is in that moment when you are truly ready to move forward.”
Cleanse: “When forgiveness is received from ourselves or others and after the weight of the world seems removed from our shoulders, there is still an internal process that is important to face, one that takes time. A lot of time in fact. The poison associated with fear, shame, and judgement can be slow to dissipate. But there is a brighter side, a clean slate. We are creatures of adaption and our trials only make us stronger to face the oncoming waves. We are strong, we are brave, we are capable of things we can’t even dream.”
That Which Lies Ahead
That Which Lies Ahead: “The journey continues on; through dark and light, we must climb one step at a time through safe passage and obstacle alike.”
The Climb
The Climb: “The climb will never stop but the destinations along the way are glorious. We will toil but it will shape us into something beautiful.”
The Longing
The Longing: “Love is better than the sweetest chocolate, the prettiest flower and the purest gold. At the end of it all, we simply long for love. On a good day, on a bad day, on an average day, its all the same. Our heart will follow its course, and if we stick to it we will find our very own abundance of love.”
Resolve: “Like a change in the season we enter different stages of life. Sometimes it comes expectedly yet sometimes its a bit more sudden. There is no formula, no exact date set in a stone, these things just tend to occur, as natural yet unsettling as the first drop of rain from a storm. In and out of love I have fallen, away from homely spaces I have gone, up and over mountains I have traveled- each experience changing me in some steady but intangible way. When I set foot somewhere familiar at last, my shadow seems different, changed. Will I dissipate from the reaction or will I battle on, claiming my identity with pride and resolve?”

To see more from Woodcox, visit his site.

Originally published: December 22, 2015
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home