Today, the “day of love”, I’m deciding to take back a little love for myself. I’m going to write a letter to all the parts of myself I’ve tried desperately to disavow.
To all my jagged edges,
My scars: you are cherished. You are the evidence that I have chosen to survive. You are outward proof that I have the strength to keep fighting. You are misunderstood, I know. People see you and they are disgusted. They are unkind. They say things like, “how fortunate that my daughter never really got anything from cutting.” Yes, how fortunate for them. But, for me, you’ve been important. In a way, you kept me safe from far more dangerous decisions. You are a map of all my untold stories. A constellation of all the places my heart has been. You are war-torn flesh, smoother and tougher than all the rest. You are the topography of all my vilest secrets. You are the faithful defender of my inner fallibility.
My body: I know I’ve been unkind to you. I have filled you with pills and booze and who knows what else. I’ve stuffed you with junk. I forced you to bear the weight of my shield. I thought that the fat would protect us; I was wrong. And so I made you shrink. I starved you. I took away your calories. I took away your ability to thrive. I deprived you of sustenance, literally and figuratively. I made you abstain from touch, all touch. I’m so sorry. You’ve been good to me, despite it all. Despite my inability to keep you safe. You fill me with hormones, you give me messages that I oftentimes ignore, but I feel you there, trying to keep us protected. You’re trying to do your part. You keep going. You keep persevering. You are gorgeous and resilient, my striped beauty. You wear your scars and stretch marks like badges of honor. You and I, we have lived. We’ve been through some shit. We’ve survived.
My darkness: oh how we struggle, you and I. We fight the good fight. Daily I try to wish you away, failing to see how you might also be a gift. In darkness, even the smallest light is magnified. You’ve given me the opportunity to know lightness in a different way. You’ve helped inspire countless pieces of art. You feed the emptiness, the void in my heart but that isn’t all bad. I’ve learned empathy in that dark, hollow well of emptiness. I’ve learned how to hear and see the darkness in others. I have learned how vital it is to love their darkness. Now, I need to love you.
My recursive wormhole of thoughts: you’ve taken me on many, many adventures. Quite a few I never wished to take. But we went, nonetheless. I don’t regret any of them because they all taught me some sort of lesson. Often I’ve wondered what it might be like to have “normal” thoughts, to not be swept away by the rapids of my inner monologue (or would it be dialogue since there are many sides). But, really, I think I’d find that doesn’t quite suit me. Perhaps that’s only because it’s something I’ve never known. But, still, I find comfort in the cacophony of my never-ending thoughts. You are the siren that sings me sometimes sweet and sometimes not so sweet melodies. For better or worse, you are my muse.
My shame: quite frankly I’ve always seen you as a bit of an ass. I never saw your redeeming qualities. But, now, I think I get it. I think I understand you. In those moments of feeling powerless, you step up. If we take the blame then that provides the illusion of power. It’s beautiful really, how you’ve tried to protect me from that heart-wrenching feeling of powerlessness. Sweet shame, you kept me safe. You did your best to keep me loved. Shielded the outside world from our rich, inner world of feelings. I get that. I know you thought they couldn’t handle it if they felt that depth, if we let them see the tsunami in our heart. I know you thought we were too much. I know you tried to fend off the abandonment and rejection. It only gave anger ammunition. But it’s okay. I still love you. Really. I only wish I could have told you sooner that love didn’t have to come with conditions.
My anger: you, my dear, have been my greatest adversary. I won’t lie, I’ve spent my entire life hiding you behind shame and guilt. I hated you. I never could see the purpose you served. But I think I get it now. You are the curmudgeonly old gatekeeper. You are the sentinel. I never let you out so you never had a chance to learn how to fight fair. You’ve gone into every fight with fists flailing. Only fists have never much been our style, huh? It’s words. We wield words the way warriors swing swords. We have vicious vocables. A lethal lexicon. No, not really lethal, but damn those words can bite. I’m kind of proud of you. See, this is where guilt comes in; I know I shouldn’t be. You and I, we’ve hurt people. We’ve caused massive relational destruction. But that destruction, that’s where my love for you lies. Of course I’d rather have had those relationships left in tact, mostly. And yet, I see how you pushed them away to keep us safe. I know how we got here. So many people have hurt us, left us bleeding, left us wanting and needing. And I stuffed you down. I never let you express yourself. All this time, you have been a part of that need. I promise to let you practice. I promise to give you the space to become something better, a healthy form of anger. A new and improved keeper of the gate.
All my jagged edges, you are a part of me. You are a part of my story. But, you aren’t my whole story. I hope you’ll forgive me for not letting you always play protagonist. I hope you know, while others might find you disturbing, while others might not understand, I do. I really do. I know it doesn’t seem that way most of the time because we fight so often. But I see you for what you really are, I see you for what you’re really trying to do. I know that you’re my protectors. I know you’re why I’ve survived this long. I appreciate you. I’m grateful to you. I hope you feel that love and gratitude as I learn to let some other parts start to shine. It’s time we let someone else stand watch. It’s time we let down the guard a little. It’s time we heal.
With much love from my patchwork heart,