Discover more from Love Letter Day X
An open letter
I am the worst at keeping up habits. I start out great but lose steam or motivation or whatever, usually about three months in. I think this is pretty common. In my case, I’ll push the habit so hard out the gate that I won’t even consider the failure of having quit. In other words, if I jumprope every day for 90 days, I will only reflect on the failure of my having made it a “habit” one year later when I attempt to jump the rope and find it is no longer productive or pleasing.
I mention habits because I am tempted to announce a change in tone to my substack due to a crisis in conscience. From here on out I am only going to share recipes, or whatever. But whatever shift I may announce, I know will not be permanent, and my orbit will return to personal essay once again. So out of respect for my future self, I want to instead talk about the crisis of conscience that led me to consider a change in tone.
A friend recently asked me to consider the effects of my presence on the internet and by their own admission, embarrassingly, told me I should consider…dialing it down. Reader, you will understand how this landed. Very very poorly. But here was my quandary: were I to lash out and complain openly about this, I’d prove a point they were making about the nature of indiscretion and exposure. On the other hand, if I observed the gag order, I would also prove their point that perhaps there was some disorder in my writing.
Now let me acknowledge that by indirectly addressing the complaint—they feared this might happen—I am provoking them. So in fairness to the friend, I will say upfront that this is an open letter to them.
Being asked to dial down my blog felt like I was told that I am not pulling off wearing a crop top. In my petulance, I was tempted to bite back. “It’s called Love Letter Day X you dipshit. Of course I’m gonna talk about my feelings.” I am SO someone who wears crop tops! Let me live, bitch.
Because my reaction was so defensive I thought “maybe you’re right. Maybe I’m loud. I should instead be the noble Buckingham guard.” (Is that what they’re called?) Maybe it is a problem to show off my fat stomach in a crop top at my ripe age. But I have to consider who are you suggesting I am actually offending. Who benefits from paying negative attention to me? Who and how?
So instead of feeling attacked, I now feel empathy. I come from such empathy when I say this:
I understand the general queries of reading a blog like this being “gosh, I wonder what is making her so riled up? Who is she referring to when she says she’s heartbroken?” Those are questions I am happy to answer privately, and everybody I know understands this. Broadly speaking the answer is this:
I break my heart. I am writing these letters to my self. My therapist asked me a couple years ago to start writing letters to myself. I always acknowledge that everything I write is addressing the only person whose behavior I can control. So, practically speaking, I give everyone permission to talk about me. I give it openly. If gossip is what causes the anxiety, I am happy to report: I think gossip can be really healthy! Whispers of strange behavior are how we create instincts toward a self preservation. Now, the thing is also that anything beyond a whisper is a public sound. You do want to answer a public boom. I am also very willing to do that.
Personal feelings do not imply physical betrayals. Only intellectual ones. Put another more basic way: it should be obvious that frustration, anger, sadness, heartbreak, despair, as well as excitement, love, limerence, lust, are all mental atmospheres, and it is because nothing has exploded that nothing has exploded. I deal in personal expectations. When they’re met, I celebrate very quietly. When they are not, I put on crop tops. If I needed to describe contact, battle or orgy, I would use completely different devices. Probably some thirsty instagram stories in an attempt at virality, if I’m being real. But what we are describing is shame, not behavior. And the benefit of shame is to give shelter to fear.
I push my son regularly out of his comfort zone, so I know the onus of fear is not entirely on the learner. He is terrified of sleeping alone, but I make him do it despite agony and tears. And I tell him every morning I love him and say with some misplaced hope: see, it wasn’t that bad, right? But I also tell him I am sorry. If I take it too far, he will one day be ashamed when he crawls into my bed, and I know never to take it that far.
To the world: maybe I took this too far. I am sorry. I am so sorry that my mental atmospheres can have caused paralyzing rumination or make it embarrassing for you to ask for affection of your mother. I am sorry that Love Letters sparked more fear than inspiration on Day X or Y or Z. And I am so sorry I am going to keep writing love letters because it isn’t so much that I can’t keep up a new habit than that I am god awful at quitting old ones. (Ask my husband how many times he’s found cigarettes on me…).
Now, I challenge you. I challenge you to write a love letter to YOUR self. Try on the crop top. I bet you’ll look amazing in it, and if anyone tells you otherwise I will beat the fucking shit out of them.