April Love – Day 30, Dear [Yourself]

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This April, I am participating in Susannah Conway’s April Love, a month of love letters. Using her predetermined prompts, I’ll be writing a love letter to an aspect of my life every day (well, maybe) in the month of April. Thanks for tagging along!

Dear Kelly,

Of all the things you might benefit from hearing, one thing stands out the most.

Everything will be okay.

Anxiety makes you crave reassurance. Even impossible reassurances that no one could possibly give. You know who CAN offer a standing reassurance though? You. You can choose it. I’m not saying that things will always be perfectly fine. Sometimes they will be less than great. Shit happens of course, but when it does…

Everything will be okay. 

You are strong. You are resilient. You have been through terrible stuff and come out better than when you went in. You are working every day at getting better. Recovery from mental illness is not a straight line. You will have down days.

Everything will be okay.

Take each day at a time. Use your metaphorical tool box. Admit when you need help. Ask for help. Ask for hugs. Ask for chocolate.

Everything will be okay.

Everything will be great.

I love you.

Kelly

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April Love, Day 26 – Heart

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This April, I am participating in Susannah Conway’s April Love, a month of love letters. Using her predetermined prompts, I’ll be writing a love letter to an aspect of my life every day (well, maybe) in the month of April. Thanks for tagging along!

Dear Heart,

You are amazing.

Physically, you are the center of my life force. You keep things moving and I’ve never been more grateful to you for that than I am right now. I have never been more aware of you than I am right now, in the days since suffering a panic attack so severe that it had me convinced that I was having an actual heart attack. As if that wasn’t enough, getting fitted for a heart monitor just days later to explore the cause of some palpitations I’ve been feeling (and brushing off) for several months. I am tuned in to you now. I am respecting you. I am doing my best to nourish and care for you.

From an abstract perspective, you are a force to be reckoned with. You are a warrior. You have carried the weight of loss and heartache. You have borne the burden of sorrow and pain and yet, you help me to respond with love. Always, with love. Your capacity for such great and constant love in spite of pain and grief, or indeed perhaps because of it, is simply incredible. You teach me so much.

You are searching. Maybe it’s just me, or maybe everyone feels this way after loss, but I seem to constantly be aware of an emptiness within you. A hole that you are seeking to fill. Is it Clara’s spot? I honestly don’t know. This emptiness doesn’t cause me pain, per say. It doesn’t lend itself to any sensation of discomfort. Perhaps the best way to describe its affect would be to say that it drives me. It’s as if my heart is looking for the final flower to complete a perfect arrangement. I am, truthfully, not sure what it is that you need, but I recognize your need for something.

I will stay open.

I will listen to you.

I promise.

With love, always –

Kelly

 

April Love, Day 24 – Truth

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Dear Truth,

When I was a little girl, and life hurt too much, I hid from you. My creative mind found solace and relief in fantasy. I read books, wrote songs, wrote poetry. I used words, both mine and those of other people, to escape. Even to this day, my favorite books are the ones that are as far from my daily “truth” as possible. I love fantasy and sci-fi. I love period drama and historical fiction. Much like the little girl who was desperately trying to escape the pain of her own truth, I still love placing myself in someone else’s truth.

The difference is that, even though I still like to escape it from time to time, I now appreciate my own truth. I honor it. When something happens in my life which makes me uncomfortable or causes me pain, I don’t step back from it. I don’t throw my hands up in the air, assume an expression of disgust, and say “Oh, what is THAT?! Who does THAT  belong to?!” I’ve learned that some of my most incredible moments of personal growth, and some of the most powerful connections that I’ve made with other people, have come from owning the messy parts of my life. They have come from boldly owning the messiest parts of my truth.

A funny thing happens too, when you decide to stop pushing away the mess and instead you invite it in for a cuppa. It doesn’t seem so bad. Love is funny like that. When you start to live lovingly, most especially towards yourself, the sharp edges of things seem to soften. Choosing to own your whole truth, even the icky parts, is like choosing to love or at least appreciate it and truly, if you love something, it will change the way it impacts you.

Today, which happens to be my 31st birthday, seems a fitting day to reflect on all the love I have for my truth. I am sitting here at my dining room table, the only one awake in my household, with a cup of coffee and my laptop. The morning sun is warm on my skin, as it pours in through the dining room window. It promises a beautiful day full of truths that will be easy to love. Truths about family, truths about aging, truths about health and happiness and bikes and flowers.

So, my truth, you are one hell of a story to tell. I’m so glad that I get to be the one that tells you. In regards to the low points… well, they’ve hurt. Some of them continue to hurt, even after years have passed. Like ripples on the surface of a still pond, I think they will hurt for a while. These days, however, I’m not hiding from them. Every ripple brings a lesson, and I’m counting them as they pass. Counting them,  learning from them, and wrapping my arms tightly around this beautiful, messy truth of mine.

Love,

Kelly

April Love, Day 14 – Courage

This April, I am participating in Susannah Conway’s April Love, a month of love letters. Using her predetermined prompts, I’ll be writing a love letter to an aspect of my life every day (well, maybe) in the month of April. Thanks for tagging along!

Dear Courage,

I don’t allow myself enough credit for knowing you. In fact, someone told me just a few weeks ago, that she thought I was the most courageous person she had ever met, but it felt like she was talking to someone else. I felt thin. It felt as though someone stronger and more deserving must surely be standing behind me, and I was just the veil through which her compliment was passing.

I think it’s normal for people to not give themselves enough credit for feats of courage and strength. After all, when you are living through terrible things, nothing you do feels particularly impressive. You are just doing what needs to be done.

However, when I spend some time thinking about it, I realize that I know you quite well. Don’t I? I’ve called upon you many times. You were at my side, decades ago, when I shut a toxic family member out of my life, choosing instead to live with a smaller family circle, but one that was consistently loving and supportive. You were by my side when I finally, after years of silence, opened up about having been raped. You were with me when I battled a health scare. When I stepped into my role as Stepmom. When I delivered my first baby.

I called on you as I battled Postpartum Anxiety and OCD. It was you, courage, who kept me searching for answers when I knew something was wrong. It was you who gave me the strength needed to dial the number of a therapist. You moved my body to her office, one step at a time. You pushed my voice out of my mouth and shaped the words which formed a confession, revealing the truth of my emotional and mental state. You paved the path to healing.

I felt you again, when we learned about Clara. I felt you squeezed between the palm of my hand and that of my husband. We called on you together then, our hands grasped tightly, clinging to each other as we clung to you. We shared you. You helped us through the days.

I feel you now. It seems silly to say, but when you are grieving and battling mental illness, even the most mundane things require an element of courage. Things like going to bed, or waking up and starting a new day. Nothing is a given, and I need you every day.

Courage, thank you. Thank you for being here when I need you. Thank you for never leaving. Thank you for making me the kind of person that someone else finds encouraging.  Thank you for making me the kind of person that someone feels compelled to call courageous. I still feel wildly undeserving of that honor… but I’m working on it.

 

Love,

Kelly

 

April Love, Day 12 – Future Me

Dear Future Me,

 

I just told Past Us that it’s all going to be worth it.

 

…don’t make me eat my words.

Love,

Kelly

April Love, Day 8 – Younger Me

This April, I am participating in Susannah Conway’s April Love, a month of love letters. Using her predetermined prompts, I’ll be writing a love letter to an aspect of my life every day (well, maybe) in the month of April. Thanks for tagging along!

Dear Younger Me,

Shit, girl. Where do I begin? I mean, I’d act like some sage guru, but the truth is I don’t fucking get any of this shit anymore than you do! Ahem, sorry. As you can see, the years have not eroded our love of vocabulary intensifiers. Seriously though, I’m still kind of just flailing through life, one day at a time. However, one thing that I think the passage of time has brought to me, is that I don’t care so much about understanding it all. Time seems to have gifted me the trust that things will unfold properly.

Life very often feels like a puzzle with a perpetually missing corner piece. It’s frustrating, but somewhere along the way you learn to see the rest of the picture for what it is, missing piece be damned.

If I had to tell you one thing, it would be that the sooner you can stop looking for that missing piece, the faster life will feel whole.

That, and dump the idiots, because the best one just ends up falling in your lap without you even looking for him, you lucky girl. So just sit back and be patient, he’s so worth it. It’s ALL worth it.

Love you,

Kelly

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April Love, Day 6 – Books

This April, I am participating in Susannah Conway’s April Love, a month of love letters. Using her predetermined prompts, I’ll be writing a love letter to an aspect of my life every day (well, maybe) in the month of April. Thanks for tagging along!

Dear Books,

GAH. I love you. You have made possible the exploration of time and the redefinition of reality. You make me smarter. You make me wiser. You entertain. On top of it all, you very often provide a metaphorical refuge, a safe place, when things in life are hard. You let my mind escape the every day.

You provided a literal safe place, after we lost Clara. In those long and empty days, after we said goodbye, my heart broke every single time I passed the room that was to be hers. One day, however, things changed. One day, I looked into that room and didn’t see an unfinished nursery. I looked into that room and I didn’t see my own empty womb. Instead, I saw a library, waiting to be filled. I noticed the perfect way that the morning sun came in through the window, and I thought how sweet a little chair would look tucked into that corner, a place to sit and feel the breeze. My eyes wandered over the wooden floors and trim, across to the solid wooden door and realized that bookshelves, wrapping around the room in a similar tone of wood, would be absolutely intoxicating to my eyes, which so prefer natural, untouched finishes. I imagined filling the room with stories, true and untrue; with history, remembered and revered. I imagined all of my favorite characters coming together in one space, wizards and ladies in waiting, Queens and adventurers. I imagined all of the life that could be poured into that sad little room, by simply filling it with books.

It did not take long before we did just that. A lifelong hoarder of books, I filled the shelves easily after the furniture was purchased. However, the library is not just for me, and so we all brought in our books. Residents of the library are not just the likes of Elizabeth Bennett, Aragorn and Harry Potter, but the Cat in the Hat and Greg Heffley. We’ve got construction truck counting primers, hungry caterpillars and anthropomorphic warrior cats. We have comic books and compendiums, covering everything from The Beatles to Batman.

It is a lively room, indeed.

So, thank you, books. Thank you for being my teacher. Thank you for being my friend. Thank you for giving my mind a place to go, while challenging it to be more, do more, see more, and say more. Thank you for bringing life back into a room where I once only saw death.

I will be forever grateful,

Kelly