You Woke Up Feeling Everything, Didn’t You?
A letter to my former self on a day when I know she really needed it.
You woke up feeling everything, didn’t you?
I know you did, and you so often do. Lately, it all feels like pain. And you can’t think of a good reason not to make it go away.
Listen, I can’t tell you not to hurt yourself. I can’t tell you not to do what I know every cell in your body is screaming at you to do.
I know that there isn’t any part of you that isn’t on fire right now, and that the only way to stop the burn is to jump out of your skin. But I can tell you that the fire isn’t infinite.
It will run out by itself, and you will not cool immediately, but there will be momentary relief.
You will feel that relief so fully. It will hit you hard — the most gorgeous slap in the face you have ever felt; the most beautiful strike against your skin.
You will snap out of it, and drag yourself out of bed and into the sunlight.
You will lie around watching movies and drinking smoothies and petting dogs and guzzling coffee, blinking and running your fingers through your hair, and you will laugh.
You will hear the laughter, foreign against your ears, and you will wonder if this is going to last. It won’t, but that doesn’t make it meaningless.
I’m here to tell you that it does get better. But then it gets bad again. And then it gets better again. The life you trudge through daily hands you cycles, and some cycles last longer than others.
But the bad is never as bad as that one bad was. I promise you that. And I would never lie to you. Because I promised myself that I’d never lie to myself again, and you are me, after all.
Please note, I know that four years isn’t much time. This isn’t about coming to you so much wiser. It’s just about acknowledging your current struggle. Besides, I’d like to think we both know that experience trumps age anyway.
I’m here to tell you about the big things that may seem insignificant to some, but that I know keep you up at night. And please note that I come to you with no finality, as we are still living through this.
But I want you to know that it is worth living through.
On friendship: Nothing gets lost in the translation when it comes to heart-language. We can all see it and feel it in the same way we would the clouds making way for the rain.
You will realize how perfect friendship is. How beautiful and special and gratifying every phone call, every text, every letter, every I’m listening and I’m here for you is.
You’ll learn it incrementally, then it’ll hit you, a curve ball to the face, and you’ll be forever mystified by the love that can be shared and gained through blankets strewn across the floor with endless cups of coffee and conversation.
You will bask in the delight of friendship so often and so willingly that it’ll feel like a newly formed limb that you can’t help but perpetually flex, one that you would never want to live without.
You will claim people as your own, and you will love them fiercely, wholly. They will do the same for you.
On grief: I’m so sorry. You will taste the sting of grief often, expecting the ache to lessen with each loss, but it won’t. Grief will always be an ocean to you, never a wave. You will sink into it head and heart first, every single time.
But you will learn that the ache is equal to the love. And the love was insanely big and beautiful.
Every time you remember this, you will feel a swelling pride at your endless supply of tears. Because you will know that it is simply a testament to the love, to the devotion you felt towards them.
You heaved buckets of love at them while they were still walking around on the earth beside you, and you will continue to do so now that they are not.
I know you’re worried that you’ll forget them, that you’ll go weeks without thinking about them or talking about them, and that you’ll forget what their voices sound like.
But I promise that you won’t — they’ll visit you often in your dreams. You’ll wake up crying constantly, but in the twinkly dusk of dawn, you will feel a sweet relief that they are still with you, even if it’s just between REM cycles.
While you are grieving, remember to tell the people you love that they are doing more than enough for you. That their words and their hugs and their presence is enough.
That they know it’s difficult because you cry more than pretty much anyone else, but that they are doing a phenomenal job. Remind them, remind them, remind them.
On becoming jaded and losing your goodness: I know that you are worried about your this. About your gaping, wide open heart. Your raw, insides-on-the-outside self, and how the difficulties might make you hard and bitter one day.
Please don’t worry about that. I know that lately it seems as though you are unable to get out of bed unless it is to guzzle wine, mind-numbing meds, or the body of a person who is breaking you.
I know you can still taste the aftermath of all of this destruction.
But where its teeth once bored mercilessly into your supple flesh, you now merely feel it — time has turned it into a subtle graze of pressed fingertips atop your skin.
You now know what clean, unblemished and unadulterated, pure love feels like because you found it inside yourself. Your skin is fragrant and fierce, never weak, and always inhaling the scent of the world a little too deeply.
You will stay this way forever.
Remember how devoted you are to the utter reality of life, and not to the filtered perfection that comes in the form of a screen we scroll through mindlessly. Remember that you want the grit. You crave it.
You want the awkward conversations and the hands cusped over laughter that you think is too loud (it’s not, it never is). Remember how badly you want all of it, and don’t, for one second, let anyone convince you that you want it too much.
On writing and inspiration: This one is fun. Because I know that every time you go a while without words, you actually lose your mind. You tell anyone who will listen that you are no longer a writer.
You crave the taste of a good word-flow like sustenance. Know that you will find inspiration everywhere, and at times, you will find it nowhere.
You will sit for hours trying to get the words to pour out of your fingers, your eye sockets, your elbows, your spine. The right words won’t come, but you’ll keep trying, and this is why they always find you, eventually.
They’ll find you while you’re driving, making you pull over to scribble incessantly on your arms or the speeding ticket lying on your passenger seat.
They’ll find you in the middle of a hot bath, causing you to drip out and onto the paper. You find inspiration in lightning, in trees, in people who smile with their eyes, in the sunlight draped across the floor, and all the spaces in between.
You will always be a writer. You will always write. Just trust me on this one.
Things will happen to you that will be more than you can take. So you will break. You will break for a moment, but that break is not who you are.
The riot of your rattling bones will shatter you, annihilate everything good and pure in your body. But you will mend, you will mend.
You will live as a moonlight-bather, a sunshine-chaser.
Never pausing, never giving up or in.
You will run with the freedom-screechers, the wild, woken ones.
You will feel the rhythm through the wreckage. It will be slow and continuous, a miraculous unveiling, a growth of the senses.
You will smolder and you will pulse with rapid fire that crackles in the cold. You will vibrate off the heat. Your body is stubborn, it wants everything. Give in. Always give in.
Choose all of it. The gutted and the glorifying. The annihilation and the uprising. Choose it together. Swirl it back and forth with your tongue until you can’t taste the colors apart and it all meshes together as one spew of bright light.
How brave you are to keep loving, keep hoping, keep moving!
PS: The world is really difficult, and we are all infinitely breakable, so just be kind, okay?
PPS: Although you are still a fiercely independent woman, you will also find a someone who ignites your insides every time you even think about uttering his name.
You will stop fidgeting with men who don’t see your infinite worth, and you will find one with a wealth of his own.
You will kiss him, and think about kissing him, and be miles apart but dream about kissing him, and think about the next time you get to hold his steady gaze across from your own.
You will constantly be in awe of how he calms you, steadies you with his tender certainty. He will be brilliant and kind, so kind. The blue sapphires in his eyes will inhale you. You will hungrily gulp each other down, limb by limb.
He will feel like home with every breath, and every conversation will be a tiny treasure. He will be goodness and earnestness, and there will be no inch of your skin that doesn’t always want to be pressed against all of him.
He will offer you strength, but he will know of the multitudes that you already possess on your own.
There will be something so effortless that comes with your conversations that you will wonder how it was that you ever didn’t know him, didn’t crave him, didn’t marvel at him.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. I want you to experience all of him for yourself because I promise you that it’ll be worth everything that came before.