Wednesday, February 27, 2013

An Open Letter To My Younger Self

First,
don't think that it's hopeless.
Don't kill yourself,
because I--
We--
are worth saving.

Second,
almost everything that our mother has ever told you
is wrong;
just filled to the brim with fucked-up and crazy.
You can't see how small she is,
because she has made herself an eclipse,
blacking everything that might turn to light in your hands.

Baby, baby,
if I could do one thing for you,
I would rock you and tell you 
what a sweet beautiful darlin' girl you are--
and, yes,
you heard that right.

Say goodbye to doctors. You were never really sick.
Does that amaze you? Here is something that will amaze you more:
You were not born to be so shy.
You were not born to look down and say yes to whatever somebody said.
You will find your voice,
and you will just never shut up again.
Oh and did I mention,
you will wear red.

Trust the things that silently call you, in your deepest places.
Music.
The outdoors.
Books.
Dogs.
They are not for nothing. In fact, they will save you, again and again.

You think you are set up to fail,
poxed by some intractable god.
Girl, that's the wrong god.

You think you are a coward,
but you are braver than you know.

You think you are not loved.
You're not,
but you will be.

You think you are ugly,
but you will create words so beautiful that your devils will weep.
You will create words so gorgeous that it will make your devils give up evil
and become nuns.
Hang on.
Have faith.
There is room in the world for a queer Catholic girl like you.

All these things I have seen and swear to, so help me Goddess.
Amen.
_____

for the "Open Letter" challenge at Real Toads.

 


33 comments:

TexWisGirl said...

i loved this, shay. i loved it.

Margaret said...

See. With age comes wisdom. And TRUE beauty! I just love this! I felt my heart swell reading this! Truly.

HermanTurnip said...

Who knows, perhaps in some sort of time-displacement-quantum-phenomena-event horizon event, on a higher astral plane or alternate dimension your younger self could very well be reading these words, drastically improving her life for the better.

...at least we can hope :-)

Great piece!

gabrielle said...

Funny. I came upon an early picture of myself--about toddler age in pedal pushers and a snug tee. I had buried the photo deep in a box of things I would hide from myself but could not let go of because it was too painful. She looked chubby and cowered. I was looking at her through someone else's eyes. Today she is framed on my dresser and I smile at her every morning--her aliveness, her curiosity, her tenderness. Thank you for writing this. I will read it to her tonight.

hedgewitch said...

I love the words turning devils to nuns, and I'm sure yours could. This is full of the insight that comes from pain and growth, two things that seem ineradicably tied together. You remind me that the price we pay for youth is higher than the price we pay for age, even though in the end we pay all we have.

Helen said...

... 'you will create words so beautiful ~ you will create words so gorgeous' ... and so it came to pass. Amen.

must go find a tissue now ..

Cloudia said...

"almost everything that our mother has ever told you
is wrong;
just filled to the brim with fucked-up and crazy.
You can't see how small she is,
because she has made herself an eclipse,
blacking everything that might turn to light in your hands."

If only I could write that to my younger self. . . . . .

Amazing job, SHAY



ALOHA from Honolulu
Comfort Spiral
~ > < } } ( ° > <3
> < } } ( ° >

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Shay, one of your finest, my girl. I would say much the same to my younger self. Your words do make devils weep (and other poets rend their garments!) Only one thing I disagree with - you wrote that girl is not loved - but she is, more than she knows, by all of us, to whom you are the very best gift!

Ella said...

Beautiful Shay!
I wanted to stand up an yell, "yes"!
Bravo!
@>-----------

rashmi menon said...

My love to the girl in red whose words are gorgeous enough to make her devils weep.

nene said...

Red is my favorite color.
I think it's because I'm a Taurus
and I'm constantly fighting the 'bull', my younger self.

great piece mi amiga

Sioux said...

I wonder how many kids don't have your strength, and never get the chance to look back on their horrible childhood/upbringing?

manicddaily said...

A very brave poem--manages to be passionate and confessional but not maudlin. Wonderful ownership of great images and growth. I feel as if I am too stuck in many of my same old dramas-- but the distance you've crossed is wonderful. K.

Kerry O'Connor said...

The beauty of hindsight... Yet I know many young girls who should read this poem and keep something of it for themselves:

You think you are set up to fail,
poxed by some intractable god.
Girl, that's the wrong god.

You were not born to be so shy.
You were not born to look down...
You will find your voice...
you will wear red.

Emma Major said...

can you send this to my younger self as well please because she needs to hear it. I long to be able to share poems like these which are written but can't yet be in the open world. one day.

Poet Laundry said...

I am so glad the younger did not kill herself. I would have missed 'meeting' the exceptionally talented mature self. I love the strength in this piece...just reading, I know it was hard-earned.

Buddah Moskowitz said...

Love love loved this. You're one of those quiet treasures that I feel blessed to have found. Everyone should have such love and compassion, especially for their younger selves. Bravo, Young Lady.

Marian said...

oh Shay, this makes me want to weep and applaud and love on my children, all at the same time. i hope you never, ever shut up. keep speaking the truth! truth to power and all that. xoxo

Daryl said...

the best advice evah!!!!

Kim Nelson said...

What a powerful piece. My favorite aspect? The writer of the letter embraced her genius, understood what was hers and left the rest of the baggage at the station when she held the hand of her younger self and convinced her she was just right. Just Right. Perfect.

AnneElena said...

Cooks--
Because of my own current intractable struggles with crazy-mommery, I could only read it as a message to/among sisters, all limping aimlessly around her self-immolation, biting our thumbnails, not sure if we should even hold hands, while we watch her spiral into her own embers, still screaming blame in the most exquisite pathopoeaia ever. So that's what *I* found in the wee box, regardless of what you put in it. But thank you, luv. Now I know it's okay to hold their hands. Plus, it will stop us biting our nails.

ae

Hannah said...

The second stanza...yes, that resonates with me and then the rest so open heart surgery-like and beautiful never-endingly so beautiful. I just ♥ the heck out of this letter, Shay. Thank you for writing and sharing.

G-Man said...

You are as young as you think and feel...NOT as old as you are!
You are beautiful inside and out.
I know these things because...Well, you know.

The Crimson Goddess...:P

Buddah Moskowitz said...

I hope you find it a tribute that I was inspired to write a similar poem to my younger self. Thanks so much, Shay de Lady - Ol' Man Moskowitz

Susan said...

I know I left a comment saying this is moving me to tears from the way it meshes with my life too and from all the loving it contains of you to yourself. It also spoke of a letter written to my younger self that is lost. I feel yours speaks to me as well, and that I sometimes still need to see it. The comment ended with love. If you find it, feel free to delete this one! Wonderful letter!

Mama Zen said...

This . . . this is gospel. I love it.

Mystic_Mom said...

Oh my younger self would have loved to get an open letter like this. I hope many read it and more share it. So moving.

Susie Clevenger said...

I love this! We swallow lies and can't digest truth. May this reach the right readers to open their eyes to truth!

Lydia said...

Shay! What a masterpiece this is. One of my favorites you've everever written. Should be circulated in viral fashion throughout the web. In fact, I will do my part by sharing the link to this with a young fb friend of mine. I know, from what he has shared of his angst, that it will resonate.
Love this. Love you. Mostly, love you loving you!

Karen said...

If only we could do that! If only we could still that little voice that always says, "Yes , you are."

FrankandMary said...

Well, hang a light on it.

Strong & clear, & powerful, but also inordinately sensitive. A good disaster recovery. But I am sorry that you had the disaster in need of recovering from. ~Mary

~s said...

I already told you what this poem did to me. And I still don't appreciate it. ;)

These are particularly inspired lines:

"she has made herself an eclipse,
blacking everything that might turn to light in your hands" (in my head, I was reading it as "blacking out everything")

"Say goodbye to doctors. You were never really sick"

"You were not born to be so shy.
You were not born to look down and say yes to whatever somebody said"

"You think you are not loved.
You're not,
but you will be"

"You think you are ugly,
but you will create words so beautiful that your devils will weep"

Your first stanza sounds like Sylvia, not just her circumstances, but her writing style.

Lolamouse said...

This made me cry, Shay. I wish so many younger "selves" could read something like this and have hope. It's so difficult when one is in the thick of misery to see a way out. This was beautiful!