The thing about you is that You're a runner Your legs are long and spindly And your body built for moving fast You have no patience, no time For slowing down and staying a while Which is why when you turned on your pillow Looked me in the eyes and said "I really really really like you" I knew you had fallen fast But that you may never fall deep The thing about us is that We were only ever in passing Our story was a treat You wanted to keep tasting Because it was so sweet But it would never keep us full The thing about me is that I don't know if I'll ever be full I have a deepness inside That may be infinite I'm not sure because I have yet to find the bottom So the thing is This was never meant to be But it still means something to me.
It’s 9:40am on a Sunday morning at the train station.
Beside me there’s a woman seated in the waiting area huddled around a pizza box. Her face is not within view, it is inside the box, ravenously consuming the slices; her head is bowed in shame. It seems as though she is committing a most intimate act and is trying not to draw attention towards herself.
Across from me, there’s a mother caring for her autistic son, while her daughter slaps her with resentment. The mother kindly turns to look him in the eye and says “Mathew would you like some food” he makes a groaning noise back, which she knows how to interpret much better than I. “Are you sure, you don’t want an egg sandwich?” “Groan.” The mother makes a scathing remark about her husband and how useless he is. The daughter responds with “If you don’t care, then why the heck did you bring him” pointing to her brother, “you paid for everything hotel, show, everything, why, what’s the point?”
Next to me, there are two men in their mid-twenties moaning in agony over headaches that will not abate and musings over last nights affairs. One of them pulls up a half-naked photo of a woman on his phone and points it to the other and they chuckle together, sharing a pat on the back, and proudly celebrating their conquests.
I am sitting here watching, and listening to the performance.
There is another man a few seats over. He is in his late twenties with circular glasses framing his green almond eyes, red pants to match his red shoes, an old-fashioned button-up wool vest and a bowler hat. He is feverishly typing away on his computer. Perhaps he is writing about the sad uninteresting-looking girl who is a few seats down and seems transfixed to her phone. I depressingly wonder about the words that are going into writing my story.
I suppose “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players.”
The skyline is lit up like the stars it hides. So instead of looking up we are looking forward. Instead of staring with our heads tilted wondering about humans’ place in the world and the vastness of the universe, we marvel at our own work and the vastness of ourselves.
We are disillusioned. We are so small. If you need proof, think of all the lights you cannot see, the ones that find their home beyond our world. Not the ones stitched together with bricks and mortar and illuminated by electricity. Think of the stars.
When I see the buildings twinkle, I know they are only the charm of an imposter. They’re winking at us. Pleased and proud, like the fraudulent jeweller, they have us fooled.
(and lots of it)!
I remember when I first heard about Hannah Brencher, and I was first tied to her crazy idea. It was in one of my most difficult years of college. A year, that was a huge turning point for me. I was sitting at home alone and watched her ted talk. After, I was in a flurry. I needed to write, there were so many words itching, aching, dying to get out of me. So I picked up a pen in one of the most feverish, cathartic freewriting sessions I have ever experienced.
That’s what Hannah does to people; she helps them find, feel, and feed the fire in their belly.
She is what I like to call a lightworker. She brings light into people’s lives to help them better see, themselves, and their purpose. She has found a way to spread the gift of light and the work of lightworkers, through love letters. Through her organization, More Love Letters, she helps people spread love and light where it is most needed, and the holidays are no exception.
In the lead up to the holidays, 12 precious days are dedicated to 12 beautiful people who are a need of a pat on the back, a message of love, some beautifully penned words. I am honoured to be wrapping up these 12 Days of Love Letters with a note to Petra, here’s the request:
In August Petra’s husband told her that he no longer loved her and would be moving out after 30 years of marriage. No one in their family saw this decision coming and the transition has been tough. Petra’s daughter wrote to us “My mum thinks she has lost her place in the world. And I want her to know that she always will have a place. I want her to smile again. I love my mum. And if everybody knew about her kindness and devotion to our family – you would probably love her, too.”
Myself, and many others are beside you.
Many of us have also experienced lost love, the type that is ripped out of your hands before you ever expected and leaves behind a gapping hole, a missing space, a stark feeling of emptiness. But my dear, you have never been empty. You are allowed to feel it, but it isn’t true. It’s your fear and his ghost, lying to you. You will always remain whole and full because you are deeply loved.
It is love that you must rely on. Love will continue to glue you together and keep you in one piece.
Love is what will hold you together and keep you full. It will come in many forms, in a gift from a neighbour, a hug from your daughter, or a smile from a stranger. Look for it, watch for the loving experiences of others, and find joy in them. Don’t let jealously or regret infect you. Look forward, and look for love.
Most importantly intentionally work to develop love for yourself. Treat yourself: take your daughters on a trip, do something you’ve always wanted to do, but haven’t had the opportunity to. Work to show the same kindness and devotion you show to your family, to yourself. Rediscover what makes you feel full and whole and beautiful. And hold on to it, keep it close.
You are a force of love, of kindness and goodness, your place in the world is so much bigger than him. Turn this experience into a beautiful part of your story, don’t forget you are the only protagonist of that narrative.
A Note for your Daughter:
“When her pain is fresh and new, let her have it, don’t try to take it away, forgive yourself for not having that power. Greif and pain are like joy and peace; they are not things we should try and snatch from each other. They’re sacred. Theyare part of each persons journey. All we can do is offer relief from this fear: I am all alone. That’s the fear you can alleviate” Glennon Doyle Melton
Please join me in taking some time today to send Petra a message, she needs a reminder of how loved she is. Letters are welcome in German & English and can be mailed to the address below.
*use address as is – do not add “Petra’s bundle”
I woke up in a fog, a mugginess caused by the collision of reality and fantasy. Outside, the warm and cool airs met to suspend tiny water droplets in the sky. Inside what were suspended were my memories, floating around me, taunting me, fooling me. It had felt so real, having his hands around me again, giggling at his sarcastic remark, feeling full, and feeling loved. As my eyes focused beyond the clouds I saw the day I had spread before me, and saw his absence in it. I stood myself up and walked downstairs, because it was expected, necessary, because there seemed to be no other option than to learn to live with this blank space.
I came home for the weekend, it was my first year of University and I was stressed, anyone could see it. It was difficult to conceal my pores had reacted to my clogged up brain by clogging up themselves. My facial expression was constantly concerned, resembling that of a maniac. My movements were erratic and always rushed, and my eyes were sunken into a face that had lost all of its roundness and no longer portrayed the innocence of plush cheeks and wide bright eyes that I had once been praised for. Now I was skeletal. Everything extraneous, the pieces that made up the essence of my former self had been sacrificed. My mother saw me and my look of concern was reflected in her eyes, it was her overwhelming anxiety and narrative of the “worry list” that had developed my perpetual unease. She knew that this was the person she would be greeting when I phoned her last night with a wavering and frustrated voice.
She began describing all the medicine that she had been preparing since I had hung up the phone the night before. “Here, I have butternut squash soup, which I know is your favourite, and I made quinoa and roasted vegetables. And I know you haven’t been eating meat but I made some beef stew because you need to make sure you are getting enough protein, but I also made some lentil burgers in case you don’t want the meat. There’s brownies and ice cream for desert and I bought your favourite type of popcorn. The soup is actually a new recipe, I found it online….” And so it went on, while I silently screamed for help, she continued on in the only way she knew how, presenting me with what I hated the most, the substances that shackled me. Food was my oppressor and her way of showing love.
She never said anything about my size, weight or appearance. She only spoke in the measurements of recipes. She never knew that I was stricken, starving, causing myself such damage. She never asked. Instead, she gave me pies.
She understood pies, in order to create them successfully you just needed to follow the directions, obey the amounts and the stirring tactics and sure enough you would create the expected and satisfying product. With her daughter she had also followed the recipe: help her with her homework, push her to get straight A’s, keep her from risky situations, and be sure she never defies you or authority. She had done everything right, worked to mould the perfect little girl, but the soufflé fell.
So she turned away and kept to the recipes she understood.
I want to capture that feeling when the words slide off your pen effortlessly, as if they had always existed in that unique combination. They only use your hand to bring themselves closer to permanence. Like painting watercolour over a message scribbled in white crayon, the script was always there it just needed to be noticed, to be uncovered. And so I’ve blissfully resigned myself to a life of poetic archaeology.
The moment when you realize you’re so full of ambition, yet stifled by it. Like when a puddle spreads in all directions and becomes so flattened that it cannot flow any further. It becomes stuck. I want to be all of the things, which has meant that I have become none of them.
In first grade I met Alanna. She spoke to me on my first day at my new school as tears flowed down my face and the national anthem rang over the P.A. I giggled at her quick remark as I wondered to myself: didn’t she know talking wasn’t allowed? Allowed is a buzzword from my childhood, one that I used with a frequentness that is both startling and saddening. To this day, I find myself repressing the limiting word, confused and overwhelmed by the freedoms and privileges that my life affords me. I was always seeking reassurance that permission had been granted, that a stamp of approval had been impressed on the activity by a person of power, a mom, a teacher, a neighbour, someone who could affirm that we were on the right path, that we were obeying, that I was acting as I should, that I was a good little girl. I have spent years trying to unshackle myself from this word.
Alanna paid no mind when I asked her the allowed question, in her world she created her own should’s and allowed’s. And it was a world I wanted to be a part of.
Alanna wore track pants to school and loose fitting boys tees, she met Graham and Oliver and Andrew and all the other athletic boys in our class on the field at recess and I watched as she showed them how to play soccer properly. I was there when, in the middle of the game an older girl wearing cleats stepped on her arm. She got up and kept playing only to find out later that her bones were broken to pieces. She was strong and athletic, wore boy clothes and gave me stories like the one’s my father would end with “boys will be boys.” She was a force, on the field, and in life, she played by her own rules.
My parents hated her.
But she was kind and compassionate and sensitive. I watched her cry when someone at school laughed at her second hand clothes and helped her when she came to me worried about a school project and feeling incompetent. She was strong, she was bold, she was compassionate, she was herself.
My parents hated her.
It bothered them that I would come back from her house with tears in my pants. It bothered them that at her house my allowed questions were rarely answered with a no, over there I could walk to the convenience store, watch titanic and listen to the spice girls. In hindsight I think it bothered them that I would come back from her house happier, that I had gotten a taste of the world outside their control, and that I liked it.
Alanna and I were inseparable for ten years. For that decade I put up with passive aggressive comments from my family about her and her choices, until the dramatic day that our friendship ended with our mothers on the phone to each other yelling and destroying a relationship more dynamic, reciprocal and loving than they could know.
I ran into Alanna recently, her hair is died, her skin artificially tanned, her purse holding a pooch, and her clothes leopard. I’m not sure when she started asking the allowed question, since her and I are no longer close, but it’s because of her that I have vowed never to live my life according to anyone else’s version of allowed.
I love staring up at the stars; it is humbling. Somehow staring at the rest of the universe is the only way to bring myself back to earth. As I gaze up, whether it is grass, sand or pavement at my back, I am reminded of my smallness. I remember that the earth is just a small step in a much larger choreography. Smallness is good for humans, with billboards, television, and social media it is far too easy for us to be fooled into thinking we are much bigger than we are. The context that I get from looking up both disorients me and soothes me.
When I stare up at the sky what I don’t see is constellations. To me, the glowing dots resemble a bag of dropped marbles; there is no conceivable order or pattern to their placement. Thinking about them connecting together to form images is beautiful, but also inconceivable. I have never seen the big dipper, and I don’t know if I ever will, and that saddens me.
I crave human connections. I am energized by the type of love that keeps people up at night, the interactions that make strangers feel at ease, or share an emotion with you. These connections are what string people together to create something beautiful and strong. I crave this, I want to be a part of this larger image, but I don’t know how to connect the dots.
I am an observer, and so I watch. I watch at the airport as families and lovers are reunited; I watch at the coffee shop around the corner as customers come in for coffee and leave a part of a community; I watch at the grocery store as a grandmother advises a man on which type of crackers to buy; I watch a mother at the store help her daughter pick out her first bra. It is these small moments that bind us together, that make us entangled, that show us love and make us feel beloved. These moments are the building blocks of all things good and beautiful in this world. These moments also remind me of what is missing. When I enter into a coffee shop I open my laptop to work; when I grocery shop I put in my headphones, when I shop I cringe at the thought of having someone look at my body when I try on clothes.
Maybe it’s me, maybe I am blind to these connections, or maybe light pollution has made them impossible to see. Regardless, I don’t think we give enough attention to the constellations. We need smallness, but we also need each other. Until I can connect the dots I will continue to look up.