Hello there, 2019. I’m classically late in posting my New Year’s letter, but if I were on time I think it would be less authentic to me. In writing I often wait for a certain feeling to settle in my bones–one that makes me want to move and shake and scream and bite. One that makes me feel that if I don’t express myself I might disintegrate. It’s a feeling that makes my teeth feel sharper and my body feel lit from within by some chaotic force. This physicality is so tied to how and what I write because I want to write the feeling of knowing that this is the body that carries me. I want to grind the words in the blood and muscle and bone that is my life and movement. But I need to find a way to tap into this feeling at will, this inspiration or whatever it is. But that is work that remains to be done. For now, here it is, as I intended.
There you are. You’ve made it through again, intact in all the ways that matter, stronger in all the places that were broken.
You started the year holding tightly to the person you love most in the world, tightly because she slipped out of this life for a moment that stopped your heart, only to slip back in and take up her place for at least a little while longer. You were in love and had your heart truly, irrationally broken for the very first time. You fought against frustration and despair and anxiety and sadness and broke through into unlooked for joy, strength, and sometimes even screaming, wild happiness. The people who love you held you in your times of need, listening to your fears. Never forget who those people are. Never forget the debt you owe them. Life is precious and unpredictable and largely out of our control. Embrace it in all its unruliness, just as you’re learning to embrace all the edges of you that cut against the expectations of others.
You were thrown out of love, thrown out unceremoniously, bones cracking with the impact. You were speechless with the pain, but you know what? For perhaps the first time in your life, you allowed yourself to feel that pain fully and even more importantly, you allowed others to see it as well. This shows that you’ve learned from the past, that you know now that jealously guarding pain only gives it space to metastasize and calcify so thoroughly that you’re still chipping it off your bones decades later. By allowing yourself to feel, you also allowed yourself to move through and away from those feelings and eventually look back and remember the good as well as the bad. There is strength in those hard places that have carried you so far, but their is also a brittleness to them, so you must nurture the soft spaces that keep that hardness from breaking against itself. In any case, you knew that love wasn’t forever, you knew that you were always already looking outwards and beyond the horizon of his creation. For you, love is like a steaming bath with your fierce heart at the center. It’s wonderful, for a while, and yet the cold, icy draft of the open window, that draft that smells of open spaces and small things living hardily, reminds you always of what awaits outside the comfortable security of such warmth. Although you know you love the closeness of the steaming bath water, you also love the knowledge that you will eventually stand up and step out of it, and feel the bite of the world again. This doesn’t make you wrong or hard or cruel. It means you have to forge your own paths. But it also means you have to be honest in all things, so that you can avoid as much as possible hurting those who extend their love to you.
You are two-thirds of the way through your Master’s Degree and haven’t collapsed under the pressure of full-time school and full-time work. That is an accomplishment in and of itself. You refuse to let your responsibilities overwhelm you. You keep swimming out into the unknown without letting the weight of unseen currents pull you under. Through your thesis research on pornography, you are learning from women who came before you the power of controlling your own image, but you are also feeling the fear of backlash that comes with such power. Let no one make your body obscene or deserving of censorship. Let no one make you feel ashamed. No one gets to tell you what to do with your body. Those who love you will love you still. Those who don’t never mattered in the first place, so refuse to bow to their standards. Let the strength you’ve found–in roller derby, in your studies, in pornography, in books–light you from within.
At the end of 2018, you went back to a site of much pain and fear, but also a site of joy and companionship and unrestrained, uncompromising freedom. Unexpectedly, on going back you found that the sources of that pain and fear, although still very much alive, had lost their power over you and only smoldered ineffectually in the background. The part of you that received the greatest hurt also turned out to be the part of you with the greatest capacity for joy. And now you’re considering going back there to live again. If that is what you truly want, don’t be afraid. Progress is not linear. You can’t go backwards. Each experience adds to your life and makes you who you are. The only linearity in life is the starting point of birth and the end point of death. What happens in the middle is entirely up to you. As Pablo Neruda said, “Something calls us, all the doors open by themselves…” Choose a door and then another. Listen to the calls only your unique individual heart can pick up on. The only mistake will be in being afraid to go on.
I am so fucking proud of you, even when you’re scared and unsure and lonely. Perhaps even more so in those moments of vulnerability.
I love you.