My friends. My true, honest, humble, grounded, steadfast, joyous, lovely, beautiful, and dear friends you are forever in my heart.
I don’t think I can ever stop giving gratitude for you, who you are, and your profound presence in my life. In fact, I think it is my duty to express my gratitude for you in whatever way I can until my last breath on this Earth. Perhaps that’s excessive, but not to me.
Here’s why I feel indebted to you for your friendship…
From a young age I squandered my days by trying to destroy myself so much that I never felt good in my own skin. I knew deep down that I had a bright soul. I wanted it to glow like the sun. I knew that my soul, my essence, could be as electrifying as a laser beam. I felt like a bright spark. I felt like a pop, a splash of color on a black canvas. I felt alive like fireworks on the 4th of July when I was by myself and listening to music. All I ever wanted was to share that with others. I wanted to share the beauty I saw and felt with others.
But soon those moments when I would listen to music behind closed doors were no longer thrilling, at least not in the same way. I stopped wanting to share with others. I thought no one would care how I saw the world and I felt very ugly. I began to not feel alive anymore. I no longer felt like fireworks. I became very afraid. I was afraid of everything. I struggled to see the beauty in things, especially in myself. Somewhere in my growing up I got scared to be me. I was afraid I would be too bright, or too much like the sun, or too colorful. I didn’t want to be too much and therefore unworthy of love. I unconsciously felt that there was not enough space in the world for many bright and colorful people. I thought that it was better for me to be not enough so that I wasn’t too much.
Despite that my soul felt loud, colorful, and bright, I very quickly got quiet, dark, and dim. I subdued myself as much as possible and from then on no one could see what I felt on the inside.
“No one would ever see it. No one will ever see my too much-ness. I should not be taking up too much space.” I thought, mostly unconsciously, “I don’t want to overpower anyone. Everyone already feels overpowering to me. It is better that I make myself scarce. Actually, I don’t think I should be taking up any space at all. I feel like nobody and everyone else seems to be so much more substantial than I am.” These were just some of my reoccurring thoughts.
Eventually I didn’t want to be in the world. Being in public was difficult and took a lot of energy. Everywhere I went I felt like a walking mistake. The light of day was hard to face each morning, especially as I began to keep myself awake.
When my family would go to sleep I would retreat into the darkness of the night and the house. I would simultaneously remove myself from life, make every effort to not have to face daybreak for as long as I could, and tried to get back in touch with my soul. So in the dimly lit or dark room I would slip my headphones on and fade away. For a while those moments when I would listen to music alone felt like a refuge. I felt safe behind closed doors, in the dark, and in the music to be as too much, too colorful, and completely myself as I wanted to be.
However by the time I reached college those nightly music binges became the kiss of death. I exhausted myself. I stopped sleeping. I stopped sleeping so much that morning hurt. My body ached and love felt too impossible to feel. Then I lost my appetite. I got so anxious and I was so exhausted that I didn’t want to eat. I didn’t want to do what I loved and I forgot what I loved. I was running in circles on empty and emotional adrenaline was all that really fueled me. Until eventually I didn’t want to live at all.
I thought people would be better off without me. I thought no one needed me or missed me. I thought I only cause discomfort, fear, anger, and exhaustion that an early death would be a sweet relief to those that knew me. Besides I was empty. I was nothing. I was useless, and insubstantial so why would anyone care if I was gone?
I wrestled with the boulders I created everyday for over a decade. I woke up everyday begging to be someone different or to just not be here at all. Somehow no matter how much I wrestled, fought with myself and hammered away at the boulders I was unable to completely sink. I wanted to sink and made an effort to drown by staying up late or all night. I stopped eating regular meals or anything at all sometimes. I tried to engulf myself in the dark, but I could never totally fall into my self-inflicted rabbit hole because like a gentle ray of light there was always a hand that would thrust into the dark and pull me out for a while. You, dear friends. You sat with me, talked with me, and I was glad to have the company. Unfortunately being in the light or even talking about light for too long made me nervous. So I always found a way to climb back into my hole and lock the door.
You amaze me, dear friends! Each moment there was always someone to sweetly hang out with me and gently hold up a mirror in the hole I created. You stayed in that dark hole with me but because you cared more about me then the dark you were not overcome by what I was convinced of. You stayed present. You continued to hold up a mirror and remind me that I have a bright soul. No matter how much I got angry, scared, or depressed by my reflection you were unfazed by my negative reactions.
You were stubborn and steadfast in showing me the light. You led by example by just going about your day, enjoying life, and being grateful each day you can take another breath. I admired your shining eyes that looked at me full of hope. I was humbled by your loving messages, but I struggled still when you would hold up that mirror.
I hated that mirror. I hated it so much I wanted to break it. I wanted to grab that damn mirror and throw it across the room. Sometimes I would get so angry at your efforts to keep the mirror steady that I tried to push you, dear friends. I tried to yell at you and what I saw in the mirror. Sometimes I would get angry and yell when you would leave and I knew no one was around.
Thank you for gluing your feet to the floor. Thank you for holding that mirror tightly and never giving in to my bouts of emotion. Thank you for knowing who you are, where love comes from, and loving my existence no matter how much I tried to hate it or extinguish it. This is why I feel indebted to you. This is why I want to give you the world. This is why I love you so much and will be forever grateful to call you a friend.
Many friends have left and stopped staying in touch. Perhaps I was too much for them or not enough. At this point I’ll never know. What I do know is that they had their own work to do and couldn’t wait for me to do mine. They may not have been able to see that among all my struggle that I was working. I broke my own back but no ego was going to keep me hidden for too long. You had this same conviction. That’s why you continued to hold up that clean, simple mirror. Each moment you held up that mirror it was as if you’d smile at me, your eyes would shine, your heart would glow, life would fill your lungs and you’d say, “I see you. I love you. Do you see what I see? Can you see past your ego? Don’t be afraid, my friend. I am here. Your light doesn’t scare me and when you’re ready you will see it too. I am here for you always.”
Though there were days we didn’t talk I never felt abandoned by you. And what’s more is you trusted the work I was doing, and you moved it along by staying present and continuing to love wholeheartedly, and unconditionally.
I did the work. I did my own work to belong to myself. I did my own work to understand love, but you stayed with me as I did the hard digging work to belong to myself. You never let go of that mirror, you stayed grounded in your own convictions of how you saw me, and never wavered in who you are. So while I did my work I strongly believe that I would not have made it this far without you, dear friends. Without you I would not have learned what I did and when I did from you. Without you I might still be trying to sink, instead I’m practicing how to float on my own. Without you I might still be internally begging for love and to be someone different, instead I’m grateful for the rich love I do have and glad to be who I am.
I did the work and I continue to do the work but you, my dear friends, made it possible. You helped me float while I was learning to float on my own. Now I not only practice how to float but also how to ground myself. For the first time I’m going to bed before midnight. I’m treating my skin with care. I’m drinking more water. I’m delighting in my body and exercising. I’m learning to eat good meals with lots of nutrients. For the first time in my life I’m digesting love, peace, joy and happiness. For the first time I know what it feels like to be truly full. Full without effort. Full, nourished, and satisfied. Full, taking up space, and unafraid.
While this new treatment and outlook to belong to myself feels wonderful this is all very new. So it takes work. Since I conditioned myself to not be and to try to disappear for so long it will take some time for me to make this new treatment a habit, and then a lifestyle, but I will get there.
It is not an easy thing to build someone up, but what you did for me feels special. You built me up not only when I was having a bad day, but on many bad days when I was purposely trying to sink. When I was trying to not be and figure out how to be at the same time there you were with your mirror and lungs full of life. That took energy and work. It took stamina to just be there even if you didn’t have the energy. Thank you.
So, dear friends, I love you and I’m grateful. I loved you then, but I love you even more now, and will love you forever. I look forward to creating new memories together. Ones where we can both be and be together. I look forward to being my own version of the sun and showing up with all my colors. From a laser beam to fireworks I will be myself, and unafraid because I know you can take it.
And as I belong to myself more each day I look forward to getting to be your friend. I am currently training and getting in shape to be a better friend. A solid, reliable, unwavering friend. I’ll be ready with a mirror, grounded and ready to show up for you one hundred percent.
I can’t wait! But for now, “He hath made every thing beautiful in his time” (Eccl. 3:11).