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

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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

Letter to a Reflection

Psst! Hey, you…

Who? Me?

Yeah, that’s right, you, little sister extraordinaire, with the curly hair. I see you in the mirror, staring back at me. I need to tell you something important. Please don’t take what I’m about to say the wrong way. It’s from my heart to yours. Oh, and make sure you share what I’m about to tell you with your sister. She needs to hear this too. The both of you drive me insane.

Who are you?

I’m you. Call me your spirit guide or conscience. I don’t care, but please listen.

All right. Fine. I’m listening.

Okay, so about the only thing you have in common with your older sister is a set of parents. You need to get over whatever the hell happened between you as children. I’m sorry she picked on you, called you smelly and ugly. Let me rephrase that, ugly is an overstatement. Your sister once asked you how you had such a beautiful sister. Yeah, I know it hurt. Still does. But stop carrying that around. It’s merely part of the baggage you take everywhere you go. You know the one. It’s where you hide your emotional scars. Where all the pain you’ve endured dwells. Yes, there are times when you’re able to check your Samsonite at the door, but let’s be honest, shit from your past still bothers you.

Oh, and don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about either. You know exactly what I’m saying. Here, I’ll give you some examples:

  1. Kids throwing rocks at you, calling you big nose, threatening to beat you up after school because you were “too ugly to breathe.”
  2. Kids pretending to be nice to you, so you would loan them a pencil or a sheet of paper, or so they could copy off your homework.
  3. Coming home after being emotionally tortured at school and having your sister tear you down more, when all you wanted was for her to be nice. To be your friend unconditionally, not a stranger co-existing with you.

Why does she hate me? Where did things go wrong with my sister?

She doesn’t hate you. And I wish I knew where things went wrong. Believe me. I think it might be a lot easier to repair, fix, or establish a sisterly bond if you did. But you and her never had the kind of relationship other people envied. You’ve always envied sisters who laughed together, cried together, or helped each other figure out life without judgement. You want that closeness. You want to be able to pick up the phone and talk to her whenever you need to hear a friendly voice. Instead, you have been at each other throats most of your lives. And now…

And now. We don’t even know each other. I want to have a sister I can count on. Who has time for me and doesn’t treat me like I’m not important. 

Exactly, and you may never know each other, which is by far the saddest thing about both of you. It’s like a deep, dark secret. Most of your friends don’t even know you have a sister. How pitiful is that? Your parents are the only thing that binds you together, but once their gone, then what? You must fix this before it’s too late.

I know. But we are stuck. I don’t even know where to begin.

You start by picking up the phone.

 8iEbknAyT

Letter to my Mini-Me

Dearest Mini-Me,

It has been a while since you and I have been in communication.  As I approach another birthday you came to mind.  Without you, I would not be here today.  Without you, I would not have survived.  When I look back in time, I want to thank you for a number of things that helped me to be here today.

Dearest Mini-Me, thank you for realizing so early in life that not all parents are good ones.  Having a baby makes any woman a mother but it does not make them a good parent.  This is the single, most important point you kept in the forefront of your young life.  It is sad that this was the case but it allowed survival mode to kick in early.

You were never really wanted, or at least it never felt like you were.  You were strong in the face of the verbal insults.  Your ears heard daily that you were nothing, worthless and not good enough.  In the sadness of hearing this, most of your elementary years were spent living in the fear that if you did not conform to crazy rules of conduct you would be taken to an orphanage and left there.  Better yet, that harm would be done to you and so satisfied would your parents be with that, they would happily say that afterwards they would call the police and tell them they did it…like it was nothing to hurt a child.

The smallest infraction resulted in the most terrible punishments.  Most of the accusations and things you supposedly did wrong were not based in reality.  It was the reality of the thoughts of a crazy woman.  Most things you were accused of never happened.  Never!  Those imaginary things required punishments.  No one listened to your sane, rational words.  “I did not do that.”  “That never happened.”  “That’s not really what happened.”

Bath times were supposed to be calming and a quiet time before going to bed. Instead it was the whipping place.  You would be washing in the tub when the door would open.  High in the air in a hand fueled by rage, instigated by imaginary things, was that thin, brown extension cord.  Down it would swing and land on wet skin.  Wet skin made the strikes more painful.  The whelps and cuts were that much bigger.   That was the purpose and the plan.

Emotional fear and physical pain were modes of discipline and you learned how to be perfect in a crazy toxic world.  You were a fast learner.  You had to be.  You were living in an unknown cycle of abuse that went back generations. It would be terribly hard for you to survive.  On the outside and to others all things looked normal.  No one really knew what happened once you got home and were with those people called parents.  No one knew and no one could help.

Thank you, Dearest Mini-Me for working really hard to develop friends outside the home.  Granted, no outsiders ever were allowed over to our house; you were able to go to the houses of others and could see how other children lived.  How they were loved.  You realized you were not loved.  Never a beloved child.  Never loved.  Never hugged.  Never kissed.  Never told, “I love you.”  Your birthday was never remembered and you did not get gifts at Christmas.  You just looked on as everyone else opened presents.

You realized something was really wrong with the parents you had.  They each had very different wrong things in their personalities.  Things that went way back and were being manifested toward you.  You did what you could to survive and made it a goal to get out and to get help one day.  Help for you.  You never wanted to be like them as an adult.

As you got older things changed.  The abuse changed but it never stopped. As a teen you were almost without a persona from all the name calling and constant bullying by your mother.  For years when you looked in the mirror you only saw her face.  It was the face of a demon with horrible red eyes.  You stopped looking in mirrors for years because the image of you was so awful to see.   You were not there.  Where were you?

When it was decided that you could not eat any food at home, you got a job in high school so that you could buy food or eat out.  There was no privacy of any kind.  All letters to you were read.  All locks on your room door were dismantled.  Sleep most week nights was disrupted.  At 2AM, the lights would be abruptly flipped on and screaming and yelling of insults would happen until 3:30 or 4AM.  You had to get out of bed and stand up to take the yelling.  Life was exhausting and the days were long and filled with the struggle to stay awake. Then it was decided that you were not good enough to use the furniture so you had to sleep on the floor.

You tried to reach out to an adult for help but no one believed you.  The atrocities you endured. So many more that can be told here in this short letter.   Our family looked too perfect on the outside.  You reached out to a counselor.  When your mother was contacted she convinced the counselor that you were a wayward, ungrateful child.  There was no help from the adults that were supposed to help.  No one believed you.

You could see no future for yourself.  All the years of holding everything inside began to break you down.  You always smiled on the outside but inside you were crying.  All the time crying, wanting a different life.  The life of your friends.  The life of your other relatives.  A life of your own. Just any life that was safe. A life!

Your life was slowly being taken away, ebbing toward the abyss that you were on the brink of falling into or being pushed into.  You saw that there was no way out except by your own hands. A plan was formulated.  It was later put to rest by friends. They listened to you and even saw some of the truths you revealed. They gave you hope.  Hope that you would have a life one day.  A future.  Thank God for friends.  They saved you.

You, also saved you.  You saved your money and got out.  Eventually you got counseling to try to undo all the damage that was done to you.  Lots and lots of laying on a couch. Years even.  It worked.  Dearest Mini-me, you broke the cycle of abuse. You learned how to protect yourself and to recognize that toxic people have no place in your life.  You learned how to not take on the crazy.  You gave me, me!

I found myself and saw myself in mirrors. I could actually look at pictures of me and see me. Beautiful me!  I could actually imagine a life that actually went years into the future.  I found my life. I found me! I try to live each day to the fullest now.  I embrace the idea of “carpe diem” and “yolo” to the fullest.  I try not to look back on those very sad times early in my life.  I do not want them to ever define me.

I know you are always with me.  You are my Dearest Mini-me.  Rest now.  You protected me for a very long time.  I now have the strength to protect you.  You will always be a part of me.  Thank you! Know that I will always love you, my Dearest Mini-me.

Love,

Me

8iEbknAyT