Jonathan Pivovar

All content ©Jonathan Pivovar unless otherwise stated.
Photographer/Chicago, IL


As it stands, I generally have a propensity for living transparently, or at least I would like to believe so. But then there are also many times where I bite my tongue and fade into the background to preserve relationships, whether they be friendly, familial, professional, romantic, or other. I have shrouded much in secrecy over the years for many reasons but perhaps the biggest reason may be that I learned very early on that it is far more agonizing to tell the truth than it is to lie and hide. The heaviest and lowly hung heads are oftentimes found atop the shoulders of those who dare to tell the truth. However, it is in those with strained necks whose hearts remain as light and delicate as the very feathers they ruffle.

Recently, I have witnessed first-hand the effects of owning one’s truth: defensiveness, exhaustion, isolation, and empowerment (among others). Undoubtedly and perhaps necessarily, our truths will differ and this will, in fact, create tension. After all, our truths are only absolute until the very moment they are tested against truths, malaligned.

In December of 2012, I survived a suicide attempt. I had always believed it to be bad form to speak so candidly about such private matters, but I am opening up publicly about this for the first time for a few reasons: Firstly, my silence surrounding this incident has not (and will never) erase it from my memory nor has it done anything to bar it from being a very poignant reality. Secondly, I have been able to (very slowly) heal and rebuild my life in unimaginable ways only after admitting that my mental health needed as much consideration as, if not more than, my physical health. Lastly, I am deciding to open up about this because, if I may, I would like to air testament to the power of impermanence. It really does get better. And then it gets worse. And then better again, indefinitely.

During the last 3 months, I have endured (and in many ways, continue to endure) a gut-wrenching break up, the death of a friend, my car being totaled, still being out of work, and the trauma of living in a racist, patriarchal society where seemingly every news headline is further evidence that we are all so broken and wanting so badly to be healed. But somehow, after all of this, after everything, I am still here. We are still here. Somehow. So unbelievably deflated but not defeated.

I have lied and I have hidden quite a lot out of fear, shame, guilt, and an aversion to confrontation. In the process, I have done and said some really terrible things to strangers, casual acquaintances, but also to people that I love. Maybe I deserve all of what comes to me, good and bad. Maybe we all deserve it. But what if we don’t? What if this is just a lesson in owning one’s truth? Perhaps that is all this is—one very important lesson in living irreverently and unapologetically, in pursuit of knowing an absolute.

Everyday I wish I was as strong as this kid is.