I read your message last night, the one you sent a week or two ago.
You told me about how my faith and hope are helping you hold on to faith and hope even when you want to give up. You called my writing “honest” and “vulnerable” and told me that you cried reading it. You told me that I bring light into what feel like very dark days. You told me that my raw words flung across the internet help you feel like maybe you are not alone.
I wrote back and said, “Thank you for reading, and for your kind words. I’m grateful.”
But can I tell you how I really feel?
I read your message last night, and I felt like you were talking about somebody who is not me.
Because right now me is curled up in a ball while waves of self-doubt and shame and anxiety batter against the shores of my mind and I wonder for the millionth time when I will ever be well.
(Do you feel that too?)
I keep thinking that at some point I’ll feel as strong and beautiful as you seem to think I am.
I talk to my friend Ronne, another writer, about these things this morning and she says, “You are doing better than me then. I keep thinking that one day everyone will see me for the fraud I must be.”
Ah, there’s the paradox.
Sometimes I feel like there are two separate versions of me — the one that’s strong and beautiful and the one that’s a failure and a fraud. Both are 100% real. And every day when I wake up, I’m never sure which body I’m going to wake up into.
On those days when I wake up into [what feels like] the failure body, I desperately flail about trying to reboot into [what feels like] the strong and beautiful. My divided selves turn on one another, the “strong and beautiful” condemning and shaming that which feels weak, while the “failure and fraud” tries so very hard to be good enough to be received.
(I wish that instead I could bring the failure body to Jesus and let it be loved, let it somehow know that it is accepted and known and received just as it is, and that it is okay.)
Mostly I just want to be perfect (so I can be loved). I wake up every day wondering if I am perfect yet, somehow disappointed that I am not. This is a good thing too; if I ever succeeded in becoming perfect, I’m certain it would be very boring and would have nothing to write about.
But some mornings, it feels not quite worth it — all these torn open spaces inside of me that give birth to these words, but also drive me spinning in circles day after day after day.
I’m learning, slowly, that all this is okay. That I am okay just as I am — strong and beautiful and fraud and failure all at once.
In the meantime, thank you for writing to me to let me know I’m not alone.
published November 3, 2015
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