I wrote this to myself last year when I was in the throes of physical and mental illness. That’s a story for another time–one that’s currently in the works. But in the midst of it, I became painfully–and thankfully–aware of my brokenness. I was forced to face the reality that I had lived so much of my life out of fear–and it wasn’t pretty to see.
In fact, I wrote this because I was in a relationship at the time, and I was so afraid that what was going on would scare him away–that I would scare him away. The letter originally included more that spoke to that specifically. But I realized that it was a necessary and beautiful thing to see that I was fueled by fear, because only then was there hope for change. And I had to believe that somebody could choose to stay if they wanted to. I simply had to let them. But above all that, even if he left, HE, the One who made me and chose me, would always stay.
That boy eventually did leave. He simply stated that his feelings had changed. And I respect him for being honest with me about that, when it would have been easy to feel sorry or obligated to stay because of how sick I was. And you know what? I learned that I was okay. The worst thing in the world was not being found out for who I was, and then left. That didn’t have to keep me from being me, messy parts and all.
It’s a work in progress. I’m still tempted at times to hide who I am. To say what I think people will want to hear, instead of what’s really on my mind. To sound funny, or smart, or cool, or just not weird. To not let my crazy show too much or talk about anxiety and depression, because what will they think?? I’m learning, though. I’m learning people are just people, and they all have their own struggles, too. Most of them aren’t as scared by talking about mental illness as one might think. They may have faced or are facing it themselves, or know someone close to them who is. And oftentimes, there’s a comfort in knowing they aren’t in the struggle alone, a sense of solidarity and camaraderie. I’m finally realizing that I’ve been given a unique voice to speak about God’s grace and light in the midst of the darkness of mental and physical illness. And I’m excited to use it and share how God walked with me through that hard time–and how He still does.
You have feared so much. You have held so much fear in your bones, in your petite frame, over all your years. Maybe it started when you were born and almost died, and were too young to understand what that meant, because you hadn’t known life outside the womb yet. You have feared, and you have felt much. So much. So much, that you’ve feared the feelings will break you. You’ve feared they already have. You’ve feared never being put back together. And you’ve seen yourself as a bag of bones, a covering of flesh merely masking as put-together, when really you feel the insides are just shards and fragments of matter contained in skin. You have tried, tried so hard. To be a real girl. To be beautiful and worthy and wanted. That’s all you’ve really wanted, is to be wanted. So you’ve marched around believing that you have to carry around this sack of broken insides that looks whole on the outside in order to be loved, to be wanted. But really, what you really want is for someone to see what you really are–and love you still. But the funny thing about the fear you’ve carried around and felt for so long, it makes letting someone in to see you for who you are, and let them love you for just that–broken pieces and all–scary. You’ve tried so hard to look like a real girl that you fear that once someone gets close enough, they’ll find you out. They’ll know the truth. They’ll see through the facade and get close enough to see how quickly that bag of bones crumbles.
But what you don’t know is this: you are a real girl. Your heart beats just like everyone else’s, and everyone is a little bit broken, too. But you are not as broken as you think you are. You are healing. You are more than a sack of bones. You are not a fake. You have been forced to face your demons and skeletons in your closet and your fears and sins and doubts. You didn’t choose this. But Tamara, it is good.
You have feared so long to be seen, and to be really seen, and then left. But He who formed your frame will never forsake you. You’ve been afraid for a long time. And you’ve survived. Can you not make it through this, too? Just keep pushing through. Don’t let it rule your life. Don’t let it let you hide. Shine. Trust. Be.
Don’t be afraid, dear girl. Don’t be afraid.