Updated: Jan 3, 2022
"you're the most self-abusive person i know. the next time you want to do something bad to yourself, promise me you'll call me. promise me you'll talk to yourself like you're someone you love." - elaine
my heart is breaking for you. i know how much you tried to accomplish this year, but more so, i know how much you hurt this year—for so, so many reasons only you know about in their entirety—and i'm so sorry that my first reaction to your pain is either to a) work harder or b) lash out at you, as if that will solve everything.
for someone so stubborn and proud, for someone who wrote a whole fucking book last year about embracing uncertainty and being more present and finding silver linings in mistakes and learning to live with things like anxiety and anorexia, it must be difficult to confess this just one year later:
that despite all the beautiful things you saw this year, despite all the things you wanted to do and actually did, despite finally realizing who your closest friends are and learning to hold them close, you've spent the last two months in a deep, suffocating depression so intense that, for the first time in your life, you felt a lack of will to live.
wow. that hurt to say out loud.
you know, the funny thing is, if one of your close friends had just admitted that to you, amy, you would have said something like this: i'm so sorry you feel that way. your feelings are valid. i'm here for you. tell me what you need me to do, and i'm there. and so on.
you would have known, like really, truly believed with all your heart, that they deserved all the love and compassion in the world, and that you'd do anything to give that to them.
so how come, amy, when you're the one who feels like this, you're the furthest thing from a friend to yourself? how come, instead, you find things like this in your journal?
"i'm a self-pitying image of accomplishment. hollow. i want to sleep for a long time. just kidding—i'd inevitably wake up stressed. ... i think too much." (january 1st, 2021)
"why is so much wrong with me" (may 24th, 2021)
"i want to crawl in a hole and die
shit amy get out of it
no you're not.
why are you so abusive to yourself.
... stop stop STOP
STOP WHEN DID THINGS START GOING DOWNHILL... AGAIN
again again again again...why can't i just... [ ]" (december 2nd, 2021)
i'm sorry i wrote all of that about you this year. i'm sorry i re-wrote it all here.
but i promise i'm making you re-read this for a reason. as you flip through your journal entries again, what is it that you feel? is it pity for yourself, or maybe sorrow? is it shame that you're capable of talking like this at all? is it fear?
yes, that's it, isn't it?
you're afraid of yourself. and you hate it.
not because you are capable of talking like this, but because it's you you're talking about so recklessly, so decisively—
because maybe you actually believe you don't deserve your own forgiveness or empathy—
because, if i can be honest with you, the only person you have ever been capable of hating is yourself—
which is not just a form of self-absorption but also self-destruction—
and that deep down, regardless of what anyone else you love tells you ("it's okay to take a break. you're wonderful just the way you are"), regardless of what your therapist tells you ("amy, you are quite the high-functioning, successful, empathetic person"), you are wracked with this nightmarish, feverish fear—
that no matter how much you "work on yourself," no matter how many CBT techniques you use or books you read or meditation podcasts you listen to or therapists you see or pills you take—there will always come another day where you beat yourself up like this because
you're 1000% sure you're a bonafide mess underneath all that shimmer—
oh, but wait. stop. you're letting the "little bad guy" in your head catastrophize again. he's the imposter, not you. don't let him win, amy. you didn't survive anorexia just to get led astray by your own cognitive distortions again.
stop imagining those horrible, unforgivable things about yourself. instead,
imagine saying those kinds of things to angie. or catherine. or austin. or caitlyn. or elaine.
you couldn't, right? you would never. in fact, you'd probably bitch slap anyone who ever did. or even thought about saying emotionally abusive shit like that to them.
so why is it okay to do it to yourself? it's not okay. repeat that after me.
it's not okay to emotionally abuse yourself. it's not okay to emotionally abuse yourself. it's not okay to emotionally abuse yourself.
earlier this year, saswata told you that "you have the eq of a god." if that's even fractionally true, it shouldn't be too difficult to listen and talk to yourself like you do with other people.
like you are a human being, too.
remember, amy: grace, empathy, and kindness are not finite resources.
on june 28th, 2021, you had a little moment of kindness for yourself when you listed all the things you recently did that made you proud. e.g., you launched your own life coaching business. you made a month of online teaching work at 3am with your students in taipei. you started recording your audiobook. and you did all of this while simultaneously working through some "hard emotional shit"—aka trying to accept the recent loss of a friend you loved so fucking much you wished you were the one who had died instead.
aside from the telling fact that you were proud of 15 external accomplishments and exactly 1 internal state of being (i.e., the capacity for healthy grieving), this is a good start to listening to yourself, i think.
and we both know that only by listening—really listening, with the intention of understanding rather than attacking—will you ever be able to keep your promise to elaine and talk to yourself like you're someone you love.
and we both know you're capable of doing that, because that day, you also wrote:
"i am a badass.
i am a badass.
I AM A BADASS!!"
perhaps you were a bit naïve to think you could keep sprinting ahead forever, working 4 jobs when you returned from taiwan while living off of demanding all-caps mantras, but you already knew that, too, because at the end of that day's entry, you precociously wrote:
"you deserve a break." (and oh, side note, you can take a break anytime, whether you "deserve" them or not because who gets to decide who deserves what, ever?)
"don't be afraid to take them."
that's right, amy.
don't be afraid.
don't be afraid to listen to yourself and take that break, or five, or ten for more than just 10 minutes at a time.
don't be afraid to be addicted to video games like league of legends—yes i said it, i know you're actually addicted now, and yes it started as a desperate distraction from reality but now that you can acknowledge that it's also kind of hilarious, because low key your nightmares have been slowly replaced with living out your brand and anivia and seraphine dreams and firing those e q w r combos and being kind of fucking awesome on the rift—and not feel bad about yourself.
don't be afraid to quit your three side hustles in tutoring, life coaching, and publishing because guess what? you already have a full-time job in economic development and you like it, and in fact were just promoted even while you were dealing with all this other life shit, so you don't have to tell yourself you need to be working from 6am to 10:30pm regularly to "make ends meet" and "be a productive person."
don't be afraid to tell those close to you that you made some mistakes this year, or better yet, be honest with them and tell them about one particular mistake you made this november that's been eating you alive just to prove to yourself they won't hate you forever or worse, never talk to you again. (didn't you feel so much better after telling elaine and realizing that the first thing she said to you was not "how could you do that," but "how could you think i wouldn't love you, when nothing you do could ever make me stop loving you"?)
don't be afraid to re-read your own goddamn book from time to time and remind yourself that you're lucky to be alive, and it's a wonderful thing to simply be alive.
don't be afraid to tell people your hardcover and audiobook are finally now out (!!!) and know that yes, it's self-promotion, but it's also more than that, and just like you tell the authors you coach, "if there's one thing you deserve to be proud of and brag about, it's the day you write your own fucking book and make that dream a reality."
and, of course, don't be afraid to be the kind of person that you love on the "bad days." if it's hard to be that person at first, fake it till you make it, i.e. pretend you're your younger sister, your best friend, your future child...whoever you need it to be. because on those days that are not so wonderful, and you are feeling normal people things like sadness or exhaustion or anger or guilt or fear, i want you to look at the puffy-eyed person in the mirror and, instead of tearing her apart even more, reach your hand out to her and hold her and tell her:
"i love you. i am so sorry you are feeling this way, but know that your feelings are valid and i am here for you. tell me how i can help you, and i'm there."
and then be there for her. because you're the only one who knows exactly how she feels. which means you're also the only person who knows exactly what she needs.
your best friend, amy
p.s. at the beginning of this letter, i wrote to you that this year, there were some beautiful things you saw, some wonderful things you accomplished, and some amazing people you held close.
in case you ever forgot how important those things were (and are) to you, i wanted to remind you that...
these were just some of those beautiful things you saw:
these were just some the things you did:
these were just some of the people you held:
and right here, in these pictures and so much more, is the kind of love that will never leave your side.