empathy

The letter I wrote to myself when I was at the lowest point in my life

Artwork by  Joanne Nam

Artwork by Joanne Nam

This is just let you know 2 things: 
1. You’re not alone.
2. It’s going to be alright. 

Do you feel like a mosaic piece in a world of perfect masterpieces? I feel like that. I’m just a glued figurine of all the pieces that people tore off, pieces of myself that I voluntarily gave to people, pieces they took without my knowledge. And at night I used to look down and see which parts of my soul were missing, have you ever done that?

Asked yourself what the hell happened to you? 
Who did this to you? 
Why did they do this to you? 
You start looking for your faults, your mistakes, because of course, where there is smoke, there is a fire too. 
You must’ve done something, anything wrong, right? ‘Cause nobody hurts others for no reason. Yes, they do. Yes, they DO. I see it now.

But you still think about it and can’t figure out what your fault was. Did you talk too loudly? Did you not talk enough? Did you not laugh enough? Did you say something mean unintentionally?
So, you cry. And cry and cry.
You cover up your shirt, wet with teardrops, by wearing a jacket. I did that. I didn’t like to bother people with my problems. They already had so many burdens of their own. But some people are truly in your life because they love you. I should’ve trusted them. I underestimated the lack of warmth that would build in me if I did that. Please tell someone in your life, anybody who genuinely cares, just tell them. Just one person. “I’m not alright.”

You cry in the shower; you can feel the teardrops warmer than the shower water, on your cheeks as you stare at the bathtub floor.
You want to move forward, but there is always something holding you back, isn’t there?
“Hope.”
I know.
You still hope things will get better or will go back to how they used to be.
Will they?
Will this suffering end?
Why are you suffering?
Will suffering get you in a better place?
No, it won’t. Really. This is eating you alive. Please save yourself.

‘Cause the one you’re waiting to do that isn’t going to even look back and see how many times you stitched yourself back together.
Stop looking at their backs, hoping they’d turn. Turn your back and walk away, run, run, run, darling. Run into yourself. Run and delve into your future.

joanne nam 2

I know how much you can blame yourself when it wasn’t your fault, but hey! You’re a beautiful person. Yes, you are.
Do you know how much strength it gives me to know how you manage to get out of bed, sing in the shower, smile at your parents, laugh at your friends’ jokes, do your work, and then what happens when you’re alone in your room? How your smile drops as soon as you close the door?

How long you just stand there looking at your room wondering when will things change? Do you know you’re not alone? I’m like that too. Yes, I am.

 

Go and walk to your mirror. Go and see. 

Look at yourself in the mirror, darling. 

Beneath this shell of a body you were born in, look into your eyes, do you see? Do you see how brave you are? I do. Do you know how brave you are for fighting for your space in this world even when you want no part of it? How much you try to fit in because it gets too silent in your comfort zone? It’s okay.

You’re not alone.

Try to love yourself. I know it’s tough, I know it seems too easy to just say it but really. Love your chipped tooth, love your curly hair, love your brown eyes, love your pointed ears, love your long nose. They’re not flaws, they’re a part of you. 

How dull would this world be if everybody looked the same? So “perfect”? You make the world interesting and vivid just by being yourself, don’t you see? Do you know how awesome that is? Don’t hate yourself. Don’t try to look like someone else. It’s a waste of a person you are.

Very few people have the strength to dust off the bad things that people did to them, they know better than to define themselves by things others did to them, define yourself by how you responded to those things. That’s who you are! Not what they did to you.

Define yourself by what you did FOR others.

By what you dream of, by what your mom thinks about you, you’re the most special person for her. Smile knowing that if she heard how mean and hurtful these people were being to you, she’d raise hell for you. Be strong just like your mom was for you.

Don’t define yourself by what some unhappy, unsatisfied, ignorant people say to you because it makes them feel good about their miserable, pathetic lives for two goddamn seconds. Feel sorry for them. Be glad you’re not that low in life that you have to make fun of others and degrade them just to feel something. It takes a lot of strength to walk away from things that you really want to rip apart for hurting you.

Recommended Reading: If you’re looking for solace and ways to be at peace with yourself, you may enjoy this story as well

It takes a lot of courage to look at your mirror reflection and see your tears traveling across your cheeks and to not wipe them away by the palm of your hand, darling, don’t wipe them away.
See how much it hurts.
See how much you can actually cry for something.
And once you are done. BE done with it.
Turn those teardrops into sparks of fire that you burn the bridge with, to that place or person that was burning you to ashes. Rise like a phoenix. Rise like the sun that shines every morning, for you. You’re not crying because you’re weak, you’ve just been strong for too long.

Now that you are damaged, start mending yourself.
Examine yourself. You’re all the help you need.
Examine what parts are missing.
Your habits, your favourite things you forgot about, your hobbies, do you remember your favourite songs from 5 years ago?
Make a list, darling. I call mine “The first-aid kit”.

Of all the things that make you so goddamn glad you’re alive, it doesn’t have to be complicated things. It can be things like:
watering plants, the sunlight that seeps on your bed at 10:00 A.M, dancing in the rain or playing in the snow, watching the sunrise or sunset, decorating your room with fairy lights, hanging out with your pets, eating pizza while watching your favourite show, searching how many people have the same name as you in the world, how wonderful is that?

Do things that mend you.

Know what those things are.

Know what things you stopped doing that once you loved.

And if you find that those things don’t interest you as much as they did before, hey, there is a whole wide world, full of beautiful and interesting things.
You’ll gravitate towards them if you let yourself free. Cut that rope that holds you down. Be your own anchor.
Take a bicycle and roam your city streets, do you know the place you’re living in?
Write romantic poetry to yourself, romanticize yourself. Write poems to yourself that you want someone to write for you.

Decorate your room wall. Make as many places you can your home. Make a diary in which you can try to write about things that you see, during the day, that make you stop and stand in amazement. I write about how beautiful the sky is during the day, in the evening. You don’t need to go in lengthy details about your day, just a line is enough. Remember your life like you experience it. Make yourself immortal.

Listen, you underestimate what this life is really about. People are always going to hurt you, betray you, let you down, leave you for something better, drag you down with them.

But there are people who do the opposite too.

They give you a place in their hearts, they stay behind and wait for you, they hold your hand when you’re walking alone, they sing you birthday songs in public knowing how embarrassing it is. Find these people.

Build trust once again, don’t build favours. Don’t be afraid.

Artwork by Joanne Nam

Artwork by Joanne Nam

Hold your knees when they shake, plug your ears when someone says something mean to you, or don’t, laugh in their face. And ask them, “Excuse me, but do you know me better than I know myself? I don’t think so. So, what you’re trying to do here is just telling me how pathetic you are. It’s okay. Continue if you must, but know this, I know what I am but it sure isn’t what you think.”

Build walls that protect you once again, don’t lock yourself in, though. Build a door in it and windows in it, decorate that wall with posters. It’s not sad or lonely to build walls, just don’t build them so you can lock everyone out, or to lock yourself in. Others will never get tired of watching you from the outside, you’ll get tired of looking out. Don’t make yourself miserable. Protect yourself, okay? 

Life is so, so short, don’t you see? This is not a practice life either. Know yourself (It’s not so difficult, don’t worry,okay?) and then just be yourself. It’s okay, some people won’t like you, but you know what? It won’t matter. ’cause you’ll know WHO you really are and what they think about what’s lacking in you won’t affect you one bit.
The right people will find you. Or you’ll find them. Don’t stop looking. Don’t think you won’t. You WILL. Trust me, okay? You will.

Be kind to yourself, to others. We’ve all been through enough. We’re too scarred.  I’m going to make the rest of my life, the best of my life.

And I’m done being crippled by all these fears and pains that I’ve carried for TOO long, all these things that made me slump my shoulders; I’m straightening my back, I’m getting off the floor. I’m going to stand. Are you?

Oshin Ahlawat is a young poet and writer based in New Delhi, India. “I believe people who write are like tornados and cyclones. We wreck a lot of lives; for better or worse. It all depends on the people who read our work. They decide where the damage is going to be; the heart or the mind and whether it’s going to be for the good or for worse. I wish to give them the choice to decide that. I’m just going to focus on doing what I want”, she says.