I'm writing this from a business trip in Maryland. The view from my room across the Eastern Bay is gray and muted, but in that serene way where the ocean speaks to you without words, letting you know that even though life never stops happening, it's okay. It's all okay.
Can you imagine me as a businessperson? I know it's not what any of us expected. Even in high school, I was more of a math and science student (who fell in love with writing at the last second). I have a presentation to give tomorrow morning, so I've been pretty busy, but I wanted to make sure I took the time to write to you. You're one of my favorite things in my life right now, you know that, right?
It's been an interesting month since I wrote to you about my breakthrough. As I predicted, that was just the beginning. I'm afraid I haven't made much progress. The days are still gray and blending together, but I'm making small steps towards sanity, peace, and acceptance. I don't yell at God anymore, but there are a lot of days I forget to talk to him, and it feels like I'm not doing enough. I know grace means I don't have to do anything to earn God's love, but I feel like I should be trying harder.
(The water in the bay is gurgling, calling out names, but seems unworried about getting a response. It just calls and calls, even in the cold. If I listen closely, I can hear my name--and yours too.)
Do you ever feel like you've lost the ability to connect with people? Like you can tell all these stories about your life and the bad things that have happened, and the other person can do the same, but you still can’t feel anything? I've been wondering about this over the last month. I feel a gate of poisonous fog between myself and everyone else. And sometimes I don't care that it's there. I'm having trouble reaching out to people and answering texts. I don't think it's healthy, but I don't really know how to dispel it. I don't want you to worry, though. I think it's temporary. I just wanted you to know how I've been--how I've REALLY been. We spend so much time telling people we're doing well or doing fine because we're afraid of how they'll see us if we're honest or because it would just take too much time to explain. But I feel safe here in these letters, as I hope you do.
I know I have the strength to make it through the haze. And if you're in the haze right now, I know you have the strength too. Even if it's a full-on storm, you can make it through. There are people around you who love you and want to support you, and even if you don't know who they are, I'm here as always. As long as you keep pushing and keep trying to connect with people, you'll find a kind heart, a smile, a hot meal somewhere along the way. You'll find a way through. In fact, I made an effort on this business trip to make a new friend. I told my stories, tried to be open and create a bridge between two people. I think I went a little too far because I woke up with an emotional hangover (that feeling when you reveal too much to a stranger), but to me, it's important to keep that impulse alive. It's silly that I felt that way, isn't it? I tell you everything every month without feeling like I've shared too much.
Oh, I do have some good news. This month, I put the finishing touches on my next book (a full-length collection of poetry this time, and I can't wait to share it with you)! As I was reading through it to make sure it was ready to send out, I started wondering. I'm so proud of this book, but I only have it because of the awful things I went through with an awful, terrible person who made me fear for my safety (I wrote about that a little in my first letter). Was it worth going through all that to have this beautiful thing come into the world? I don't know.
Maybe that's the wrong question. Maybe it's not a matter of whether it was worth it or not. I didn't have control over what happened. I didn't make a bad choice that produced consequences. It's useless to say that I'd give up this book to erase my pain (even though I'm not sure that I would). They're not really connected when it comes down to it. Things just happen. Things will always happen, and we just have to do our best. Creating this beautiful thing is the best I could do with the hand I was dealt.
What I've learned is we get a simple choice after bad things happen to us. It's difficult, but simple.
We can let the anger smolder and turn us to ash (which I almost did this year)...
Or we can use our pain to make beautiful things and build bridges to each other.
Promise me you'll try to make the right choice. Promise we'll help each other make the right choice.