About a year ago, my therapist got me into the habit of writing letters to myself. At first is was awkward, but it has now become a practice of self love that illuminates my inner thoughts. I wrote this one for the New Year, and wanted to share it with you. I encourage all of you who need a little self care to start with a letter.
It’s a pretty nostalgic time, am I right? For some reason the closing of a year makes everything in the last twelve months more clear. And you can reflect, and regret, and remember.
I don’t want you to have many regrets. I know that seems silly.
It’s been a year since you were first published. A year since you literally rolled on the floor of your apartment and were beyond happy tears, any kind of tears, just the kind of happy that meant something you’d dreamed of since you were eight years old came true. A dream came true. It doesn’t seem like most of us can say that, Lyric.
But you didn’t think it would happen. I mean I know you did in this semi-delusional way you approach life but there was a tiny spark of doubt inside of you that said what if, what if I try and it doesn’t happen and it never happens and I’m sentenced to a desk job for the rest of my life and hey – that’s still a fear.
But that first step happened, Lyric. And it happened not by chance but by talent, and perseverance, and tenacity. Tenacity. That’s what you have. It’s what got you through the last few months.
Lyric, child, you have grown. I know it’s hard to see. But this year refined you. It was fire and it burned and there were times you melted but here you are, writing again.
I wish I could tell you there won’t be more but there will, if history is any indication. I don’t know why you experience pain at the level you do. But I know that with each difficult phase of life, a couple years later you look back and think how did I do it and you did it, Lyric, because you… You are brave. You fight. You play dirty with the filth thrown on you. You make it into vases and sparkling things and then you turn it around and it shines and people gasp in it’s beauty and that, maybe that, is why bad things happen. Maybe that is the purpose of the pain.
Because when you reach someone it’s not only exhilarating it is redemptive. It is a powerful weapon against Depressed Lyric who says that all of this is for not. It can’t be worth nothing when it is everything to someone else, someone who no longer feels alone.
Do you know what I’m talking about? The voices in the last year who’ve told you what your stories meant to them? Lyric, don’t become immune to that gift; don’t get hard hearted. Remember that yes, God allowed horrific things to happen – and he has also given you a gift with which to redeem them.
Remember that story about Joshua? I know it’s been awhile since you’ve dusted off your Bible but it meant so much to you back then: As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring about this present result.
Nothing has ever been more true about your life, my love.
Or Maya: Did you want to see me broken? Bowed head and lowered eyes? […] Up from a past that’s rooted in pain/I rise.
And my, have you risen.
You don’t need to be on a book tour to know that you have overcome, Lyric. You just need to look in the mirror.
It’s been hard since September. It’s been isolating. It’s challenged your perception of reality and that is hard for anyone, let alone someone who was already trying to get a damn grip. (Smile here, please). It has been discouraging, sometimes despairing, sometimes hopeless. You’ve been angry and emotional and anxious. You’re taking more medication than you’ve ever had to in your life. People are challenging. Friends don’t understand. You want to spend more time with your family but time is not on your side and neither is your desire to be independent. Seems like the only thing you can depend on is your cat. And God. I’m sure he misses you.
I don’t have an answer for you. Thinking about the future right now is scary, and I sense that you feel a little trapped. I’m sorry.
What I do know is that you’re starting this year stronger. I know that physically you are weak. I know that mentally you are overwhelmed. I know you’re very tired. And you have every right to be.
But your spirit, your soul – Lyric, they’re stronger. They’ve had to be. When you throw a boulder on a hill it is going to cave or shift its roots to support the weight. And you haven’t yet caved, my love. I know we’ve said it sarcastically but the only thing left to fear now is death – you have had a lot of frights in your short life. What could be next? Let’s not worry about it. The foundation isn’t going to crack. Maybe get a little weather-worn but paint will fix it up and we’ve got plenty of that in the form of laughter. And friendship. And family. And words.
Please don’t dwell on the things you have done wrong. Everyone, child, everyone has done ugly things. All of us have added to the pile of evil in our world in one way or another. But if there are piles for both – the good and the bad – consider them equally. And you might find that your Good outweighs your bad. You might consider that you are a good friend, a helpful employee, a daughter that brings smiles to the faces of your parents and a sister that children fight to sit next to at breakfast. Consider your compassion and the heart you bring out into a world who – truth be told – has not shown you very much kindness. Consider the laughter you bring to others. The thoughtfulness that sets you apart. Consider your intelligence, your determination, the ethic with which you work. Consider that you are trying and really, what more could anyone else be doing? Trying is the most we can do and when it doesn’t work we try something else.
So, sure. Make some goals. Meet them, or don’t. Keep writing. Remember that I admire you. Thank you for taking me this far.
And please, don’t forget to take your medication.