The Long Lost Art of Letter Writing

Goals, Relationships

I have begun a one-person campaign to bring back the art of letter writing. I have found that the more I immerse myself in social media, the less I actually feel connected to people, so I’m trying something new. This week I have written letters to my grandma, my sister-in-law, and one of the ladies with whom I went to Israel. I’m going to try to come up with more people and addresses in the coming weeks, and I’m hoping eventually people will start writing back. My goal is to write a letter to someone new every week (or maybe a rotation of people when I start to run out of recipients) plus respond to any letters I receive.

It makes me feel so important to receive a hand-written letter. It takes that added bit of effort to write something by hand, as opposed to tapping out an email. And even putting it in an envelope and finding a stamp adds a layer of intentionality. Few people write a real letter on a whim…so when I go to my mailbox and discover a letter, I feel happy because someone felt that I am important enough to warrant their attention long enough to draft and send a note. I’m hoping that when my friends and family get my letters, they’ll realize that I think they’re important, too.

Plus, maybe I’ll feel more connected to people.

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Love and Loss, or Longing for Long Ago

Relationships

I miss my family. Yes, I miss my family members who are in their own corners of the world, but what I really mean by that statement is that I miss how things used to be when we were a whole family unit. Dad, mom, brother, sister, me: a family.

My brother married the love of his life in 1994. She is a very private person and they retreated into their own lives. I think I’m possibly my brother’s biggest fan, but I have very little contact with him, and I miss having a big brother to watch over me.

Then my dad left us in 1995 for his lover. They started a new family, and he’s a really great dad to his new kids…very involved in their lives. It hurts to see how there he is for them when he wasn’t for me, but they’re fantastic kids and I’m glad they have a present and loving father.

My mom has dementia and is a completely different person than she once was. I still try to see her as often as possible, but it is hard to afford the airfare. …and it hurts so much to see her. So much.

My sister is now my best friend, but she lives far, far away, and I miss her terribly. When I visit, I miss her within minutes of leaving. I call her “my person.” The one person who will always be there. My one person in the world. If I were to do something terrible, she’d be the one to visit me in jail. Even if J and I don’t work out, she’d still be there for me….albeit in another state. Miss her so much….

I miss my family. I miss being in a family. I miss what we used to have. We weren’t perfect, but it was good… Now J and I are our own little family. We love each other, and things are getting better, but it is still very lonely. It’s not the same.

I am so glad I have him, though. So thankful for that.

The Rabbit Hole

Brokenness

I just finished watching the movie Lars and the Real Girl.

Cinema speaks to me in a way no other medium does. Movies draw me in to their stories and out of my own head, like a small, much needed vacation. A break from my own reality. A sabbatical. And often times movies, like books, change me. They expand my horizons, grant me forays into another perspective, and sometimes–on very rare occasions–they teach me something about myself.

I feel like i can relate to the character Lars. Like me, he’s lonely. He’s broken. But as much as I feel compassion for him, I also envy him in a small way, because he can afford to lose himself in his delusion. He has the luxury of going a little crazy. And when he does fall into that rabbit hole, he is so very well supported and loved by his community.

I don’t think I have that luxury. I feel like I have to always be strong, in control, and competent. I don’t feel like I have the option to be weak. I’m not allowed to be needy. But I am. Oh how needy I am! I need companionship. I need love. I need to feel like I have worth, like I’m important, like I matter.

I wonder what would happen if I just let go of it all. …if I let myself fall into my own rabbit hole of mental/emotional illness… Would people surround me in kindness as they did with Lars? Would I ever find my way out?

My Illogical Feelings and My Excessive Use of Ellipses

Brokenness, Musings, Work

So much has happened in the past few months. So many times I have thought that I should write about this or that. Visiting my mom… Spending time with my sister and brother… Interviewing at the nonprofit and the disappointment of not being awarded the job… Interviewing at the real estate firm and the joy of being offered (and accepting) the position… The strange dream that seemed so profound, but oh so confusing at the same time… My birthday and the perplexing cocktail of disappointment and happiness that surround all my recent birthdays…

So many things I could have written about, but the moments all seemed to slip by. My life is slipping by.

And now here I am, finally writing, and I don’t know where to start. All I know is that I feel sad. Lonely. …and I don’t know why. I have been shown so much love recently, so my feelings are not justified. And yet, it IS how I feel. I want to analyze my feelings away, but I can’t because there’s no logic behind it all. It just is this way… I just feel this way… I just am this way… Without explanation. And why am I finally writing now when I should have written all those other times when I actually had something to say?

(Aside: I like to analyze my feelings when I’m low because, I think, I’m more comfortable in my cerebral mode than in my feelings. I may have already blogged about this. It’s been so long, and I just don’t remember.)

So there you go. I’m sad. For no apparent reason. (Yes, I know. “Feelings are not right or wrong; they just are.”)

MWF Seeks Friendship and Confidence

Relationships

Do you ever wonder where you learned a belief that you hold?  I do.  I once read something that really resounded in my psyche.  I can’t remember where I read it or what the exact words were, but it said something like this:

Children are experts in everything; they can sing, they can dance, they can slay the dragon or they can be the beautiful princess…  …until some adult tells them they can’t.

Heart-breaking, no?

I bring this up because I used to think I was a truly fantastic person.  I was awesome.  I was cute.  I was funny and had a magnetic personality.  Most people genuinely liked me and wanted to be my friend.  And then, at some point in the last decade, for some reason I began to suspect this belief to be untrue, and now I find myself believing the opposite.  I’m not attractive.  I don’t have charisma.  People are too busy for me.  No one really wants to be my friend.

I wonder where I heard this message…  And, more importantly, is it true?

This last week I got a text from K asking me what I was doing.  She wanted to hang out with me.  To say I was thrilled would be an understatement.  J had the car, so I told her that I was free and would love to hang out, but that I understood if she didn’t want to come pick me up.  (As I analyze myself now, I’m ashamed by my almost apologetic response.  I completely understand if you don’t want to hang out with me.  …especially since I’m this horrible inconvenience.  Why would I think this?  After all, it was her idea!  She was texting me asking to hang out.  Sheesh, Soph.  Give yourself a little credit, will you?  But I digress.)  When she agreed to come pick me up and take me to a bar I was ecstatic.  Manic, even.  During our evening, I started worrying that I was coming across as too much: laughing too hard, talking too much, being too “me.”  I worried that she’d see how desperate I am to have a friend.  I kept reminding myself to play it cool.  …but I was unsuccessful in that attempt.  To my chagrin, I found myself apologizing for my over-the-top enthusiasm.  She assured me that I was acting just fine, but I still worried.

Clearly I need to get the heck out of my head and just have a little fun.  And yet, I can’t seem to.

I see my own insecurity even in my email interactions with people I don’t know.  I posted a Craigslist ad asking if anyone had any hobbies they’d like to share with me.  (Back-story: My friend, A, was talking about all the random, social things she does ALL THE TIME.  I asked her how she found out about these interesting opportunities, and she said Craigslist.  At her recommendation, I checked out the Community section of my local Craigslist page.  I didn’t see anything that immediately grabbed my attention, so I took a risk and posted an ad.  It felt weird…like I was posting a personal ad, but I’m really glad I did it, because I’ve gotten some really interesting responses…and so far, no crazies as far as I can tell.  Okay, now back to the point.) As I have interacted via email with people who have responded, I find myself believing that they probably don’t actually want to meet me, even though that’s clearly not the case, since they responded to my ad.  I keep saying things like “Let me know if you want to meet up,” rather than things like “Where do you want to meet?”

What on earth is my problem?  Why can’t I accept that I just might be a fun person to be with?  When I spent time with K, why was I so worried that I was laughing too much or acting overly enthused?  Who doesn’t want people to laugh at their jokes and who doesn‘t want to be liked?  When people responded to my ad, why did I still worry that they’d rather hang out with someone else?   I mean, really, if they didn’t want to meet a new friend, they wouldn’t respond to the bloody ad!

Where did I hear the message that I am not worth other people’s time?  Why do I believe I am unlovable?

…and how can I unlearn the lesson?

My Yearning for Meaningful Relationship

Relationships

I’m lonely, and I don’t know how not to be. In theory, I know that to have good friends, one must be a good friend. In real life, though, I’m not sure what I can do differently. I think that I’m a pretty great friend, or, more accurately, I have the potential to be a great friend if only people would make time for me. I’m a great listener. I’m generous. I’m kind. I genuinely care about people and how they’re doing. Why, then, do I not have a best friend who will return my emails, much less call?

I think that part of it is the Seattle Freeze.

But I worry that there may be more to it. When I was in high school there was this girl in my choir class. She was a sweet girl, but she was exhausting to be around because she was so clingy and needy…always seeking affirmation, rather than offering her own wonderful perspective and personality during daily interactions. She was, in a word, desperate. I worry that this is how I’ve become. I worry that people can see my insecurity and my desperation, and that I repulse them. People like confident people. But I am not confident any more. I used to be, but, alas, that part of me – the likable part – is broken.

How does one grow confidence back? How does a person stop being needy and desperate for love? If I don’t think of myself as likable, how can anyone else? But I can’t seem to fix myself no matter how hard I try.

And yet, I can’t be as messed up as I think I am. C and A like playing games with J and me, and M from church told me just today that she wants to hang out with me soon, and H tells me all the time that she adores me and loves working with me, and M from work frequently tells me that I deserve every good thing…

What, then, is my problem? Why don’t I have a “bosom” friend, as Anne of Green Gables would say? I want someone to share life with… Yes, I have J, but a husband isn’t the same as a best friend.

Am I expecting too much?

Starting Anew

Brokenness

It’s been a long time and I can feel the lack.  I lost myself sometime during the last decade and I think, in part, it’s because I stopped checking in with you.  I became so preoccupied with, I don’t know, trying to be happy in my marriage that I forgot to try to be happy just as me.  …I forgot to try to make sense of my own heartbeat and rhythms.  And now, I sit before you feeling like a child.  Vulnerable and lost and lonely.

I feel like I have such big thoughts, and big emotions, but when I tried to sit down and write about them, I was overwhelmed with not having the right words.  I was crippled by insecurity, too.  Whatever I wrote wouldn’t be good, so why bother?  Well.  I think it’s time to get back to my own soul.

I’m not very good at follow through, I have discovered.  I want to make a grand statement that I’ll check in every day for the next year, but I can’t promise that.  I can’t promise that I’ll even show up once in the near future…  …but I’ll try.  At this point, that’s the best I can do.

Right.  So, with that out of the way, where to start?  The beginning’s been done before, but…maybe I haven’t fully dealt with all of that yet.  So, maybe I should start back then again.  A fresh start from the beginning for another new year (almost).

My mom.  She loved me so much.  Still does, but it’s different now.  I feel like that song “Fix You” by Coldplay does a good job of explaining how I feel about my mom.  When tears are streaming down my face and I have lost something I cannot replace…  Well, my mom’s broken.  She has dementia and is lost to me.  It’s so heartbreaking to watch her demise.  She was so vivacious when I was a kid, but when I’m really honest, I don’t really feel like that’s how I remember her.  I remember her as a fragile, broken thing, even back then.  I don’t really remember much from my childhood prior to my dad’s departure.  J says I became alive when he left.  Like, I became an emotionally sentient being at that moment in my life.  I think he’s right…  Or maybe I am so messed up and compartmentalized that I just don’t remember who I was back then.  I think maybe, actually, that’s the truth.  I don’t know.  Maybe it doesn’t matter.

When I think of my mom BDD (before dad’s departure), I only have a few memories, and those, not very vivid.  Like, I remember looking at her old gnarly shoes and asking her why she didn’t have newer, nicer shoes.  She told me that she had spent her money on us, her kids.  I remember then, thinking of the sacrifices she had made for me.  But looking back, I also have a kind of resentment too.  She didn’t take care of herself, and she blamed it on us.  Her underwear was perpetually holey, and it’s my personal belief that no woman should have holes in her undergarments.  She didn’t value herself enough to spend a tiny chunk of that change on getting herself the things she needed.

I feel like I’m not allowed to harbor resentment against my mom.  Even as I type that, I’m trying to tell myself to forgive her, but …  How?  She lost herself in her own marriage and in her own role of mother, and I am mad at her for losing all those years.  For losing herself until DD.  Why couldn’t she be a whole person so I could have a good role model of what it means to be whole?

I resent myself too.  Why did I repeat her mistakes?  I look at myself and I’m disgusted.  I am fat.  I have frumpy clothing.  I don’t like me, and I don’t blame me for that because I don’t think I’m very likeable.  I don’t feel worthy of love.  Intellectually I know that’s not true.  If someone I cared about said that, I’d hold her and tell her how special she is and how much she deserves to be loved.  I’d tell her that I love her.  Why can’t I give that same grace to myself?  Why do I have to be so hard on myself?

I really miss my mom.  When I think of her, I can’t help but cry.  Why does she have to have dementia?  If she has to be sick, why won’t God take her home?

I don’t have that answer.  I don’t think I have any answers.  That’s why I’m here.