Letter to Scared Me of Days Past

Dear Scared Me,

First things first, Scared Me – It’s okay. Whatever it is; it’s going to be okay. I wish I had this advice for well, forever. But I didn’t. Instead, I let it terrify me. I hated myself for basically everything. I hated myself for my shyness. I hated myself for my nervous tendencies. I hated myself because I didn’t fit in – anywhere. Everyone had labels. Me, well I was just me, and the me that I was — was a dull dud.

People always asked, who are you? Did you do this in school? I remember doing this, don’t you? My answer was always no. No, I didn’t go to concerts. No, I didn’t make out with XYZ under the bleachers during a pep rally at school. No, I don’t remember that time the ‘whole’ school walked out, because I didn’t do it. Who am I? I’m me. My name is ABC.

“That’s not what I mean, and you know it.” They ALWAYS YELL.

What they want to know is; what are my labels? I don’t label myself. I never have. One of the reasons I don’t is that I never fit neatly into this category or that labeled group. Though when I was younger that caused me a considerable amount of anxiety. It’s human nature to want to ‘belong.’ Whether it’s a group, a club, or whatever; people want to belong. I’ve never been one of those people. I’m fine being a misfit. This idea is absurd to some people. Those people gave me a complex. Those people caused gigantic amounts of anxiety in me, so much that I had to take pills for it for several years (though I’m no longer having to do this).

My ‘problem’ (at least, I thought it was a problem then) was that I am a deep thinker. I think everything through to the nth degree, then I think through all of the possible outcomes of a situation. After a whole lot of thinking, I make a decision. This also gives me the ability to look at every side of an issue. I’m the master at playing Devil’s Advocate. I can also argue both sides of a mock trial and win, which I did a lot of in school. Whether it’s defending Lizzie Borden from a murder conviction or convicting her; I’ve done both. This doesn’t come without problems of it’s own, but at least I am prepared for whatever is thrown at me. Life can throw me curve balls and I can hit them out of the park. The biggest problem is that I tend to invent scenarios that have little to zero chance of every surfacing, but in the minute chance that they do; I’ve got it covered (that’s a plus side).

This looking at both sides and thinking through all possible venues that my brain can think up makes me look at life three-dimensionally. I’ve learned it is more typical for people to look at life unilaterally or bilaterally. They either look at things from only their point of view, or they only look at it from theirs and the opposing side. Very few (a few like me) look at it from their point of view, the opposing view, and the points of view of anyone else that may be implicated in a decision. Then we few – we happy few – continue to think of repercussions of whatever is at hand from all those same sides too. We are the DEEP THINKERS (if you feel the need to wear a label).

This also makes me never, ever fit into defined categories. I think too much about stuff, so it just isn’t possible. I look at things from the past, present, and think of all the ways things can go in the future, and I find too many discrepancies. Because of this, I stay away from labels. This made me weird in earlier life. This made me anxious. This made me want to be someone else. This made me want to be ‘normal.’ This made me want to cry. And yet, this made me.

I’ve only realized in the last few years that it’s okay not to belong. It’s okay to be unlabeled. I wish I had known this earlier in life though, because it would have made me a lot less anxious. It’s okay to be different. It’s okay to simply be — me.

That’s what I want to leave you with, Scared Me. That single last line there. It’s okay to simply be me. I’m not required to justify myself. I’m not required to prove anything. People will either like me or they won’t. People will come and go. The problem isn’t us. We are who we are, and that’s okay.

Sincerely,

 

Unlabelled Me

8iEbknAyT

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Letter to Anyone That Will Listen

I honestly cannot explain how I am feeling. Yes the medicine helps but otherwise there are some days where I feel like a hollow carcass with nothing inside. I feel empty as though i’d just received the dementor’s kiss. I suppose it could be the stress of school beginning to weigh on me, or personal relationships. I can’t seem to find a way to be at peace within myself though. Internally. I feel…empty. I keep thinking sleep will help, it’s like a human reset button after all. It doesn’t help much though. Yes, you wake up feeling refreshed, but not too long after that you put that mask back on. And when you truly feel happy, the crash that comes afterwards is completely devastating. The physical symptoms are the worst though. The knots inside your belly that won’t untwist, the problems generally digesting any food in general. The ill feeling you get when you see something you don’t want to…

I know that it isn’t easy right now but i also know that things will get better. I have to keep thinking that. I pray for the health of everyone around me and myself, but now it really is time to focus on myself and listen to what my heart and body are telling me. I know what feels right and what feels wrong and I need to trust myself with that. I need to take a breath and give myself some time and space to think. Most of all, I need to have patience with myself. It’s so much easier to be patient with others, but you always expect more from yourself than you do anyone else. Also, I need to listen to my impulsive alter ego. They’ve got a voice in my head for a reason, so whether I write down what I want to do or actually do it, I’m letting it get a say in what is happening. I know what is best for me, and I am strong.

8iEbknAyT

Letter to a Liar

We all lie.

We lie to children and tell them that it was Santa Claus who left Christmas presents beneath the tree or the Tooth Fairy who left money beneath their pillow. We lie to our parents and partners and tell them we’re doing one thing when, in fact, we’re doing the complete opposite. We lie to ourselves and assure our reflection that we can pull off that outfit, even though it’s a size too small and gives us the shape of a manatee.

They’re innocent lies. Small and fairly harmless.

But there are some whose lies form webs.

I have often wondered, as I do right now, whether you know you are lying when a lie escapes your lips, or do you truly believe what you are saying? If it’s the latter, have you always been so delusional or have you just lied so much that you start to forget what the truth really is? Have you told so many lies that more lies need to be told to cover the first up? Or have you just become stuck? Stuck in the web that you have spun yourself with no conceivable way to get out?

Do you truly believe that you have done no wrong? That God has made you in His perfect image and the rest of us are simply demonic beings here to tempt you into sin or make your life difficult?  Do you really believe that you deserve everything good the world has to offer because you may have it a little tougher than others, even though you refuse to work hard to earn what others have earned?

Are you so blinded by your own jealousy and the words of comfort people throw at you that you cannot see the difference between reality and fiction anymore? That you truly think these people will be there for you when your world comes crashing down around you instead of running a mile and leaving you to be swallowed whole?

With your lies you beg for sympathy. With your lies you try to show the world that you are more than a child having a tantrum. When others fight back they are bullies, when they refuse to acknowledge your tantrum, you argue it proves your point.

How empty you must feel.

How sad that you think you have to lie to have a life that you could have had with the truth. Perhaps an even better one.

I don’t know whether to pity you or pray that you come to your senses before it’s too late. I hope, in time, you break free of them, although they do not affect me in the least. It would just be a shame for a life to be led so unfulfilled. So empty.

8iEbknAyT

Letter to a Dreamer

The road you walk is fraught with peril.

You already know that, though. It doesn’t faze you. Your dream is bigger than all those obstacles.

People are going to misunderstand.

You already know that, too, right? They’ve been misunderstanding you all along, because you’ve always been a dreamer. You were born with this flutter in your heart. To borrow a phrase from “The Matrix:” It’s like a sliver in your brain. No matter. Your dream is big enough to overcome their doubt.

The dreamless will despise you.

You’ve met those people. You shrug them off with a blithe, “hater’s gonna hate,” kind of statement. Your dream has no patience for those who lack vision.

Your dream is magnificent. It’s a glowing city on a mountaintop. It’s a calling from God, a mission, a passion. It’s unimaginable that you won’t accomplish it.

But, oh, dear dreamer, one day you are going to wake up and realize that you’re so very tired. That mountaintop will feel like an unattainable height. God’s voice will seem no more than a distant memory of something imagined. On that day, the crabs will try to pull you back into the bucket.

Do you know about crabs in a bucket?

Supposedly, if you put one crab in a bucket, it’ll climb right out. If you put a bunch of them in there, every time one tries to escape the others will pull it back in.

Maybe they’re jealous of that little crab’s ambition.

Maybe they love that little adventurous crab and they don’t realize it’s going out of the bucket to a place of freedom and wonder.

Really, the motivation doesn’t matter. The result is what counts. The free-spirited crab ends up stuck in the bucket with all the others.

I have terrible news for you, Dreamer.

The crabs are right.

The dream is unrealistic. It’s ridiculous. It’s hard—nearly impossible. It might be dangerous. You could (you almost surely will) suffer defeat, failure, pain, heartache and more.

The haters are right when they tell you you’re being “a Pollyanna” for believing in the possible, even when it’s improbable.

Your loved ones are telling the truth. You’re not prepared.

Of course, you’re not! How can you be prepared to do something new? If it’s never been done, how do you even begin to know what you need?

May I share my own experience?

You see, dear Dreamer, I’m a Dreamer, too.

For decade after decade I listened to the ones who told me I needed to build some security. I needed to fit in before I could stand out. I needed to grow up and give up my childish fantasies. All the while I scratched at the sliver in my brain.

Then, one magical day, I looked around myself and realized I was stuck in a bucket of crabs and I scrambled out of there.

It was hard! They pulled at me and it hurt. I bear the scars, still. Some days they still ache.

And do you know what I found on the outside of the bucket?

Failure.

Totally, complete, utter failure.

It was the most magnificent teacher I’ve ever known!

Failure gets a bad rap! It’s only trying to explain what won’t work.

I learned my lessons well. I studied hard. I failed again and again, faster and faster. I embraced it. I gloried in it. I laughed when it came and raced toward more of it and all the while, while chasing failure, I was running up that mountainside without even realizing it!

By the time I stopped and looked around. I was already halfway to the top!

Oh, the top is still far away, but I’m strong now. After all, I’ve learned so much! I’ve come so far already! I’m stronger now, and wiser. I have built a solid foundation for my castle in the sky to rest upon.

Now, when I look back at that distant shore, I see you trying to escape from the bucket. Let me cast you a line! Let me remind you of that golden city on the hill! Please believe when I tell you that it’s real. You can get there. The dream would never have been planted in your heart if it weren’t possible.

And if you don’t make it? If you shoot for the moon and miss? Well, you will still land among the stars, right? And that’s not such a very bad place to be.

Take it from this Dreamer. Your Dream is a gift. Don’t let go.

8iEbknAyT

Letter to Love

I know that you’re watching me.  Through half-lidded eyes, pretending to nap on the sofa, trying to keep your breathing even.  I’m chopping vegetables and rinsing out dishes and I can feel your gaze on me as I move around the kitchen.  Although I can’t know what it is exactly that you’re thinking, I know you make me feel safe.

You are a kind man.  Uncomplicated and generous.  Not perfect to anyone else but me.  There’s nothing superficial about you or what you add to our world.  You say what you mean and you mean what you say.  Anything in between, you honour with silence until you’re ready to speak.  When you do speak, I trust your integrity.  When you smile, I trust your intentions.  And when you love, I trust that you’re as present with me as I am with you.

You show me when you’re angry, hurt or in pain.  You don’t hide yourself from me – you let me see you.  It makes it so much easier for me to steel my own courage and be seen.  Vulnerability doesn’t frighten or emasculate you – you’re aware of your limitations and you embrace them.  I notice how careful you are with language, knowing as you do that words can make or break a marriage.

You came to me late in my life but I’m so grateful I waited for you.  Never did I imagine that I would find this astonishing love and a passion so guileless that the simplest “hello” rumbling from your lips can make me delightfully unsteady. I don’t even wish you had come into my life sooner – obliterating some of those long, empty years – after all, I was whole when you arrived, just as you were.  Neither of us was searching but we both knew instantly what we’d found.

I look up and, with a shy smile, I find you again.

8iEbknAyT

Letter to my Depressed Self

I know you never thought you’d exist. You were always the “happy” girl, and always busy doing a million projects: writing, knitting, making friendship bracelets, singing, dancing, and swimming (before you got sick of all the ear infections). You thought college would be the “best years of your life” so far—you were never naïve enough to believe they were the “best years of your life” period. But you started at a school that didn’t fit well. And you found yourself isolated, sad, and then depressed. You started second-guessing yourself, choosing sleep over everything, and losing interest in the things you used to love. It took your suicidal ideation to make you realize you needed help. And you got some. Too bad it wasn’t helpful. And you decided to “stick it out” a bit longer.

But you eventually switched schools and things got better. Just not back to normal. You still felt down, even depressed at times. You didn’t know who you really were anymore. You knew you were technically still Type A, but your behavior screamed Type B. You still weren’t writing, or making the friends you had hoped to. Summer came and you were much happier. You got some help that actually worked, but no one seemed to listen when you pointed it out it was because you were home and automatically happier to begin with.

Now you’re back in school, you’re back in your routine that doesn’t do anything to fix your problem, but you don’t seem to be as down as before. You even show interest in what you love to do, but more often than not still choose sleep or Netflix or Hulu over expressing your own creativity. Similarly, reaching out to friends is a priority that never seems to happen. But here’s what I want to tell you: do what you can when you can. Take and celebrate the small victories. No one is one thing all the time. It’s okay to not always be happy. It’s okay to not want to write a certain day. But that doesn’t mean you’re not a writer anymore. And even if you can’t see it at times, know that you have grown since you first became depressed. And you’re still on a journey, ups and downs included, so don’t judge yourself too early and severely. You’re a work in progress. As is everyone else.

8iEbknAyT

Letter to a Nine-Year-Old Me

Your mother will blurt out a bit of very exciting news soon. Your jerk of a father? He isn’t your father. It explains a lot, I know. Next, she’ll drop you off at your grandmother’s for the afternoon without an explanation. But, really, who needs one? You’re ready to bust out the confetti!

You’ll want that explanation eventually though. Unfortunately, the answers will replace your excitement with anger.

Your mother is going to say it was what she thought was best for you. By the time you’re a teenager, you’ll realize she meant it was the best thing for her. It gave her the make-believe perfect family she always wanted.

It didn’t matter that your step-family treated you differently than your siblings.

It didn’t matter that you had cousins literally around the corner that you missed growing up with. Not even when you lamented how much fun having even one would be. (Surprise! You have six.)

It didn’t matter that you didn’t get to bond with your grandparents, aunts, or uncles. Their family unit was established without you. They spent a decade pretending you didn’t exist and won’t think to include you now. You’ve become an afterthought at best. For that, you’ll blame both your mother AND your entire extended family.

The lie your mother spun deprived you of a lot of love, but at least she had her proverbial picket fence for awhile.

I wish I could tell you that it’ll stop hurting or that you’ll stop wishing your paternal family tried even a little bit. But enough people have lied to you—you don’t need me to do it too.

When you get older, you’ll reach a better place with your mom, but you won’t forget. You won’t really forgive either, even though you try hard. All you’ll want is a sincere apology acknowledging she was wrong. All you’ll get is a flippant, “Sorry you feel that way, but I thought it was best for you”. Always with best for me.

But some good comes from this.

Your real father’s side of the story is sympathetic and sincere. He was forced out of your life for no reason. You’ll never blame him. It’ll be awkward talking to him for awhile, but I promise it gets better. In fact, he’ll be your closest family member and biggest confidant one day. Hang in there. He won’t give up on creating a relationship with you, and it will feel like those nine years apart never happened.

8iEbknAyT