The Undelivered Letter

A few months ago I did a thing I had vowed never to do. I sent a letter to someone I had promised myself I wouldn’t contact again. I had known for a long time that I was depriving myself of resolution by not attempting contact, but I had been prioritising avoiding the discomfort I perceived I may cause them by reaching out. My world would not let it go, and so I relented, changed my priorities, and wrote the damn letter.

If you’d like an interesting exercise, write someone you love a letter telling them all the beautiful things you’d like to tell them, and then read it back to yourself as if you had received it. If you want to make the whole thing a lot more uncomfortable for yourself, write them a letter that you actually send, keep yourself a copy, and read that back as if you had received it. Compare and contrast. Because those two letters, I’m fairly confident, are going to be different letters.

Though I hadn’t kept a copy, my letter in this instance was returned to sender, and so I had the very literal experience of receiving it. I hid it for a couple of months, unwilling to look at it. But my world would not let it go, so eventually I relented and opened the fucker up.

I had actually done the first part of the above exercise at some point fairly recently because a guy on YouTube told me to. I’d written them an unreserved, matter-of-fact love letter, which was a fine but hardly revelatory experience to read back, given the facts I had already written them countless unsent letters over the years, and I’d also very deliberately worked on using my experienced love for them to inform my newly constructed love for me.

The Undelivered Letter, though, that hit different. It was different. It was well constructed, it was warm, it was light, it was funny. It was self-aware. But it was also dripping with deference and apology. And, as I now have self-esteem to speak of, I found that particularly off-putting. As a person who loves me, I didn’t understand why I was so sorry to confess my love. Why was I apologising for taking up space, when I was there simply to wish me only good things? Sure, I was teasing myself about it, but why was I throwing myself at my feet? Why did I think I was so unworthy of my time and attention? The whole vibe fatigued me.

And that’s when I understood why this has been haunting me for so long. I lost a part of myself when I fell in love with this person, because I was so ashamed to fall in love with them. More accurately, I was ashamed of the part of me that couldn’t be without them once I had. The part of me that was desperate for them to reciprocate my love, and thus acted in desperation when they turned their back on me. I disowned that part of myself for many years, and I didn’t recognise it again until I read that fucking letter.

That was the resolution I needed. I needed to accept that part of me back, even though it was offputting. That part of me still craved my love.

This was a saga I had accepted would never be over for me, despite never being anything else either. So I was reluctant to believe that an Undelivered Letter could hold within it The Answer. But that point of focus that I couldn’t disengage myself from has dissolved. I simply don’t look there anymore. I can look there, but there’s nothing in particular to see anymore. My world has let it go. I have let it go.

We hold onto things for a reason. Often not the reason we think. Trying to let go through force of will may be ill-advised, but that doesn’t mean our fate is to keep holding on. Maybe we need to write a letter, or look in the mirror, or do the thing we’re afraid of doing, I don’t know. But I think our world tells us what needs to be done. I’m just particularly bad at yielding to its direction.

The problem with drafts

I have a lot of drafts lying around here. Drafts I had intended to be published. The problem is, once a few days have passed, I’ve had too much time to decide they’re not worth posting. This blog is not really a blog, after all; it’s more akin to some kind of working document that different versions of myself keep contributing to. It’s not quite a stream of consciousness, but, well, it’s sort of like a stream of consciousness. A slow, half-heartedly civilised stream. It’s like the water that comes out the pipe that’s sticking out the dam of the reservoir of consciousness.

I write the drafts when I am filled with an exuberance for blog posts, hoping to carry myself through scanter times. It’s only prudent, after all. But my prudence always seems to turn into digital littering. Maybe it even clogs the pipe.

I’m only happy, it seems, when I’m airing the laundry I just tripped over. If I’ve known about it a while it starts to feel like it should be cleaner before I show it to anyone. Logical indeed. But not practical for a blog that is not really a blog at all, but in fact a weird artificial construct attempting despite its inadequacy to channel a nebulous organic entity in some kind of meaningful way. Not that those two things have to be mutually exclusive, mind you. The point it, I use this thing to start cleaning the laundry – I don’t put the clean stuff back through! No matter what I might have thought at various times, both recent and not so, my writing here is highly unlikely to ever be polished, because that would simply disinterest me.

I should really make my peace with the whole thing once and for all.

Hayley

The only woman I’ve ever really viscerally wanted to be is Hayley Williams. And that’s not a thing borne out of fandom, especially, though I have come to appreciate her work in recent years. It’s because part of me resonates so keenly with her, in a way I can’t really explain. Part of me believes I could have been her – should have been – if only, if only I hadn’t failed at being, in all the necessary ways.

When I was younger I was downright jealous of her, and I masked it with disdain. But I was the one who was scared to sing. I was the one who was scared to be in community. I was the failure, and I knew I had no right to criticise her, so the disdain ate at me, and wouldn’t let me forget it.

As I grew older and wiser, I let myself admit that I even enjoyed Paramore a bit. But they remained a ‘guilty’ pleasure. I didn’t want anyone to know I listened to them, and any time I did, which wasn’t often, I felt oddly on display. Who can hear this and what must they think!? As if anyone would think anything at all.

Her solo material was what let me reconcile my complicated feelings about her. We have some important similarities. We’ve had some importantly similar experiences in our lives. We have similar faultlines. We’ve learned similar lessons. But through that and despite it, she was able to continue becoming the success that she is and deserves to be. And I…well I never even seemed to begin. I had been holding that against myself, and she, most than most, reminded me.

What were the differences between us that led to our divergent paths through life, even as we traversed similar terrain? How was she able to build and maintain a fulfilling career, while every avenue I even thought of pursuing collapsed around me in short order? Why could she sing and I couldn’t? Why could she integrate and I couldn’t? We were both in pain, so my pain wasn’t the reason. How could she do it, and do it so well, and I couldn’t do it at all?

Well, there are very good explanations, of course. But that’s another tale.

Someone

Sometimes I try to work out if I could still be someone. Do I still have time to become Neil Gaiman? Or have I already fucked it? I definitely can’t be Elon or Sufjan or Jason or Guy. But there are a few options left on the table.

Why are all the people I want to be men? We’ve grappled with this before, Yve, and now is not the time to get into it.

Half

I am sick of living in half-weeks.

I need an expanse. I need space. I need an organic, unrushed rhythm. Instead of this endless, stuttered churning.

A half-week isn’t long enough for anything. So I’ve filled it with other things. Things that aren’t anything, but aren’t quite nothing either. Noise. Clutter.

None of it is soothing, but it’s become a compulsion. An attempt to blur the edges of the half-weeks. It’s more likely to blur the edges of my sanity with chronic stress and poor quality sleep.

I don’t know how to fix it.

It’s not such a big thing, surely. It’s only one thing, among many other things, and all the other things I like. It’s just this one thing. But it somehow taints all the rest. A low-grade, background malaise, radiating, seeping into every surface.

But changing it is out of bounds. The immovable object. The unstoppable force. I am neither immovable nor unstoppable. I am frail. And I am waning.

It’s time to find a way around. A redirect. The noise isn’t helping, but I can’t cut it out until I have some sort of clear channel forward.

How to flow? How to sweep past the half-halt and focus on where I’m going?