Weeping in the Willows

To the angel weeping in the willows,

I've got a message just for you. Take it to heart, if you like, because I've carefully formed each and every line as a gift for your sweet soul. If it doesn't tickle your fancy, that's okay too. Just leave this letter knowing that you are loved. You are important in this world. Know that these words were written with kind intentions, wishing you well and promising you deserve it. 

It is arrogant, and maybe even gross, to tell someone what they are or aren't, but sometimes it's worth the risk. Sometimes, when done with the right intentions and a heart bursting with love, it can be a treasure to the told. So I'm taking a chance; I hope you don't misunderstand. You may know yourself better than I, but when I was where you are, I didn't have someone to tell me this. So forgive me if I'm wrong, and don't feel you owe me any thanks if I am right. Truthfully, I'm addressing my own past in this letter as much as yours, and what is true for me might be only partly true for you. Take whatever you like from this and know that you are loved. 


Dearest Darling,

You are sorely mistaken about yourself. You are not the cicatrix. You are the grounded tree. You are not pain and struggles of the past, you are the soul who has journeyed through them- who has grown deeper roots and stretched arms out to the sky. You are not withered away, a remnant of an injury. You are thriving, my love. You look in the mirror and see what you expect to see, but if you want out of the past you've got to learn to remove those filtered glasses and see the world for what it truly is today, rather than what it might have been yesterday.

Does that make sense? 

You are the cherry blossom, bright and full, fluttering in the wind, full of life and love. The bees and birds and butterflies love you. The philosophers and artists love you. You are loved so truly, so deeply, and you don't even know it. 

The very thing you long for most is all around you, there's just one little secret you haven't opened up yet. 

The secret is that you are not longing for the birds, bees, philosophers, and artists to love you. My sweet dear, you are longing for your own love. You are longing to know that you can do it. That you are healing, that you have healed even, that you are worthy of love, joy, and keeping company. You are longing for your own attention. You are longing for your own kindness, your own knowing gaze to turn inward instead of lusting after couples in love and tragically beautiful friendships. You are longing to be seen for who you are, not by others, but by yourself. 

You said yourself you miss the old you. Darling, how do you think that statement makes the new you feel? You've put her off, pushed her away. You tell her she's broken, unworthy, needy even. Unknowingly, you've hurt her so deeply with your nostalgia. 

What would happen if you were kind to the person you are today? Would the old you disappear forever, lost to the abyss of time? Would she be forgotten, and all of her triumphs and knowledge gone as well? Would the new you turn red and grow horns at the slightest hint of adoration? Are you so insignificant that the wind might toss you around the earth like a tiny flake of ash? Your memory won't disappear, love. Who you were was certainly important. She was strong, too. But who you are today is even stronger, even more important, because she is here right now. She exists. And honestly, she is even kinder than you think.

The old you, she is in the past, and nothing from the past ever comes back the same. That doesn't mean they disappear. Just like lost loved ones will live on in your memory as long as you live, and the stories of them will live on in your children's memories and in your own writings, the same is true for your past self. It's okay to move on, to be who you are today. If you truly need to access your past self, she is right there in your memory and in the poetry you've devoted to her.

But who you are today, she's a little fighter. She's strong, she's powerful, she wants a chance to prove herself. Give her that chance. Let her show you all that she is, all that she can do. It's strange to find your own self has changed without your knowledge. To go from a night owl to a morning person, suddenly in bed by 9 each night... you still try to describe yourself as a night owl, and the strange new lie feels slippery in your mind. It is the same with your new self. She has new interests, new talents, new passions and habits you don't even know about yet. Ask her about them! Let her show you. If she is shy, give her time. You've hurt her, you know? Putting her down, acting as though an older version of yourself would make you happier. You've got to truly be your own best friend. Not because nobody else could want to, but because your deepest self wouldn't accept a best friend other than you. You are part of each other, you need each other. Others could come and go, but you and yourself can never be separated as long as you are alive. So take her hand, tell her you love her. Apologize for any accidental unkindness. Give her something nice. A poem, a smile in the mirror, a silly one-person hug. Give her something sweet, show her that you're there for her, even if it feels awkward at first. Aren't new friendships usually a little awkward in the beginning? It's okay. Just be her friend.

[Please don't misunderstand what I am saying. I don't believe you cannot be loved until you first love yourself; that is crap. I have loved my sweet sister when all she had for herself was seething rage and hatred. My love was no less real because she hated herself. Be your own friend simply because you deserve it, because she wants a friendship with you so dearly she would give up anything to have it.]

Flower, you are worthy of all of the love and joy in the world. I'm simply asking you to give some of it to yourself. You think you have so little to give, maybe you even think it is selfish to give love to yourself (or to dare to accept it, either). This isn't true. Love isn't something limited, the more love you give, the more abundant it grows. Pour what you have into yourself today. Give it to her. Go make her a cup of your favorite tea (yours because you haven't asked her what her favorite is yet, she might surprise you with that one). Pour her a bubble bath. Take her for a walk. Whatever you do with her, do your best to simply listen and notice her. Do certain sounds, sights, or smells delight her that you never noticed before? Explore the world with your new friend, beginning with what's inside of you.

Put the past on a shelf for a moment, longer if you can.

If it helps, imagine the longing for the past as just one part of you, like a baby duck following you around. Tell your past duckling that you will listen to her, that you will take care of her and she will not be forgotten, but that you've got to go for a little while. If she is scared and resists, tell her she can tag along. Just let her know that there will be no talk of the past during this visit with yourself. If she starts chattering about it, gently remind her that you see her. You love her, she will have her turn soon, but for now you are spending time with a different duckling: your self as you are today. She will learn. The more you make this promise to her and follow through and listen if she needs to cry at the end of the day, the more she will learn to trust you. There won't be so much resistance. 

It's important to be kind to each part of yourself. Longing, fear, anger, nostalgia, frustration, joy, love. Everything you feel you can make into a duckling. Ignoring parts of yourself will eat at you, but if you simply acknowledge that little duckling and promise to listen soon, promise you care and let them know you see them, they can feel safe and rest. In a journal, a meditation space, or even a poem, remember to let them out again. Ask them what they have to say. Over time, they may not have so much to say, but at first they will probably be quite talkative. Mine were. It's okay. Whatever they do or don't do, say or don't say, it's all okay. 

I want you to know that there is a great love for you in this world. There is a great friendship for you too. I'm not being cryptic. I mean there are truly incredible relationships with other human beings in store for you. But those sorts of relationships are never forced, they come when they come and nothing can rush them. Don't be so focused on longing for the love of your life that you forget to love your own life today. Look at who you are today. Look at her with fresh eyes. You never know what she could have been up to while you've had your head turned all this time. 

Be brave. Take a look. Love her. You are worthy of love. All of this could take less than a minute, or you could draw it out as long as you like, but the friendship that sparks from it will last a lifetime. You have the time. Just find the courage.

The tree, the cicatrix, and the duckling... every part of you is so precious, so important, and so loved. I promise. 

All my love, 
Jessica