I used to not be the kind of girl that people wanted to give things to. Now, I get gifts all the time. I especially get gifts in the form of words and hands and secrets. I get letters, and they mean everything to me.
Recently, I wrote about anxiety, and so many of you wrote to me. I can't begin to tell you how much it touched me, to be given me that gift; company and advice and help, on a day where I was suffering so badly.
A beautiful woman named Nina wrote, and said to me, "I just want to say - honor your sensitivity. The anxiety you feel may
be related to the fact that you are SUCH a sensitive artist. You feel SO
very deeply. Your writing shows you feel everything. This is a VERY
special gift, and one to be treated with special care."
I have never had a thought like this. I tend to view myself as troubled, sick and deeply flawed. Sometimes I believe I am barely scraping by as a person, that I am only skimming the parameters of an okay life, of being normal and good. I've approached the idea of thriving, in theory only. I've approached succeeding, only in dreams that cut through winter windows to the gleaming of the sunlight on the ice on the pavement, outside. That is, I've never felt like anything.
So, then I read this letter from Nina on my birthday, and I was so touched by her idea that my flaws could be evidence of something good inside of me. I could choose to think of myself as something special, somebody who notices things, who thinks about things, who feels and experiences life in a knee-deep way. I could think of myself as somebody with mud and love up to my elbows; it's no wonder things get me down, sometimes.
This was a precious idea, a luxury, for sure, but something to be rolled around in my palm like a warm glass bead. It was like a tiny door in a great, frozen wall, and through the door it was summer and there were rose bushes and a fountain with a statue. Blankets were spread on the grass.
I decided to give myself this birthday gift, through the gift that was given to me by a stranger... and for one day, I tried to consider myself not to be broken, but to be something special, instead.
It felt eye opening.
I realized that something has happened to me, through writing. I've been given so much love and shown so much compassion that it has changed who I am. I don't hoard goodness, anymore. I don't reserve my love, making it small enough to be locked away inside me. I walk around in the world with my hands groping in front of me, my fingers buried in the muck, searching for diamonds to lay at your feet. I come to you, now, on my knees. I write to you with blood in my throat. I am no longer trying to be a writer, trying to be something with credentials, trying to be seen, fighting to be heard. I am trying to see and hear, instead, and it's beautiful. I feel like a part of the world, and I'm not sure I've felt that way, before.
I write letters in my lap on Sunday mornings. I put together packages of little treasures, fix them with tags that say, "I just believe you are a miracle, walking around on darling human legs." I love the babies in your bellies; I love the color of your eyes. I love your crooked tooth in front, the terrible paleness of your skin. I love the curl of hair at your temple. I believe, finally, that I might have a purpose, in the world, and that my purpose might be to live a life. To try. To be open, to flow forward and outward, to not stopper up everything that I am. I am no longer fighting to be seen. It is not everything, not a goal, to be looked at by very many eyes. I'm scrambling to scrape mud from my own eyes so that I can see, too.
We are so much the same, you and I. I've never understood that. I've always felt broken and other, but so have you. You were feeling the same way all along, I just didn't know. I had no idea.
Maggie May Ethridge has a quote on her blog by the poet Muriel Rukeyser that says, "What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open."
I believe that we are making that happen with our words.
I'm sorry, and thank you for everything. And I promise that I am paying attention, just as best as I can. And I love you. And I'm so happy.