Usually when I write these letters to you, Body, once I finally get it all out, then cut it back a little (a lot), deciding which parts to share and which parts are not for up public consumption, usually by that point whatever bit of tension, whatever that fussy energy is that you carry whenever you can’t write, it dissipates once you finally do.
(Also I’d like to pause here and ceremoniously hand over your award for sticking with me there on the worlds longest run-on sentence. Your trophy is in the shape of a comma. You’ve made me very proud.)
Usually by that point in the creativity cycle, you are feeling your lightest, Body. Almost like a happy kind of quiet.
Or a blankness, maybe? Our friend Maeve used that word recently. Blank.
She was describing how she felt in her mind when she was on a babymoom vacation with her husband, just sitting with him and being in the moment. Blank. But the happy kind, not the alarming kind. I felt that on a soul level, which is pretty standard for anything Maeve says.
Yesterday I obediently wrote but instead of the usual lightness that follows, you felt glaringly unresolved instead. You shook it off but this morning you woke up feeling all kinds of twitchy and irritable, finally revolting in your usual manner.
I knew we needed to check in with each other, but I wasn’t in the mood to communicate with you just yet. Which is another way of saying that I finally finished that novel I’ve been lugging around in my purse for a month.
Reading is a great distraction, isn’t it?
Body, it’s funny how every time I think I have a handle on our relationship you remind me how much I still have to learn, here.
Yesterday my letter to you was about the thread of distrust between us.
Except I think I wrote about it indirectly, maybe skimming over the real thing that you are needing me to see.
I had nearly passed out two times already that morning and it was only 11 am. This was a new development. One that startled me and you both. I tried to write about it with you, but I think maybe the distrust was still lurking.
But what did we say to ourselves in that very letter, Body?
Let’s recite it back:
“When we know better, we do better.”
Which is precisely why your ass is now tucked up in bed, with a laptop and a granola bar, staring at this blinking cursor instead of organizing my closet or doing the other eleventy million things I could be doing right now, instead of taking your queue to write.
You’ve got my attention now.
So let’s do it, Body.
Let’s deep dive this shit.
I’ve been thinking about all the different ways you show up for me. It’s what got me writing these letters to you in the first place.
Holy cow, you gave me that, didn’t you, Body?
You gave me writing back at a time when I didn’t even know I needed it.
You resuscitated a part of me that I’d been desperately missing at a time when just about every area of my life felt like it was in massive transition.
I had stopped writing for a full year. That decision wound up being more passive than resolute, but nonetheless, it was a decision of sorts. One you didn’t agree with, I might add. I felt like I’d lost the Writerly part of me, or maybe just lost access to her, but with these letters you gave me a way back in, a way to process on the page again.
You helped me feel like me again.
Of course, none of that was a conscious thought in my head until just now. You just gently guided me to where I needed to be, Body.
You began to get my attention. First you wanted it. Then you needed it. Then you asked for it. Then you required it. Now you demand it.
I will say this Body, for better or worse, you have balanced the scales of power between us. And I suppose that is a good thing. For every time I thought that I was running this show, you can walk me back and show me exactly where you were actually running this show. And how.
I definitely have a higher respect for you now. It is hard earned on both sides.
But that’s what’s so trippy!
This whole deal. Our entire dynamic. Whatever this is that lies between us, Body, it goes both ways, doesn’t it? All of it.
I ask a lot of you, but you ask a lot of me too.
Whenever I listen to you, like really stop and listen, you also listen to me.
When I trust you, you trust me too.
When I love you well, you love me right back.
Body, I see you, slumped over your desk right now like every teacher at the end of May, rubbing the bridge of your nose in exasperation like, NO DUH, SALHUS, we’ve already been over this!
BUT ALSO, OHMYGOD, HAVE WE EVER ACTUALLY BEEN OVER THIS?
I know I’ve been asking you to do a lot of hard things lately.
Like feel the anxiety, welcome it with gentle curiosity, process through it, complete the stress cycle every single day, take yourself to all the doctors appointments and obediently do what they tell you, get poked and tested, digest what I feed you, please, for the love of god. Show up for your people and take good care of them because that is important to you, remember all the May calendar things, keep your head screwed on straight until we reach the end of the weirdest school year ever…
There’s more because of course there is, but I’ll stop here because no one has time for that, least of all you. Look, it’s a lot. I know.
But you’ve been asking a lot of me too, Body.
You’ve been asking me to trust you, even when it’s scary. You’ve been asking me to slow down and listen to you, even when it’s inconvenient. You’ve been asking me to get my butt in the chair and my hands on the keyboard every bit of free time I get, even though I’d rather watch TV or read my book or just lie still in a quiet room for 15 minutes.
You won’t really let me any of that right now, will you?
You seem to be compelled, all on your own. That part hit me like a ton of bricks the other day while I was in the shower, mindlessly washing your face for the second time on accident:
We are in an actual relationship with each other, aren’t we, Body?
And the state of that relationship affects how I show up to EVERY other area of my life.
This is where you quietly point to the blackboard, to the same spot you always point to, the one that says, “THIS IS A RELATIONSHIP. YES. AN ACTUAL ONE. THINK OF IT AS SUCH. APPROACH IT AS SUCH. TREAT IT AS SUCH. YOU WILL BE HAPPIER AND SO WILL I.”
You are a teacher, Body, and I’ll never be done learning, but sometimes I forget that class is still in session. It surprises me that you could or even would take the lead in my creative work. But then why should it surprise me?
All the areas of my life where you began to get my attention and to teach me were the exact areas of my life that were tinged with longing. I didn’t know it yet, but after a whole year of not writing, you gently pointed out that my creative life was tinged with longing too.
You knew something there, Body, and you knew it before I did.
But this kind of writing is new for us. It is coming from a different place. It is the most cathartic but it’s also the most difficult for us to share. Publishing these letters feels like I have marched you bare-ass naked into a crowded room, holding a megaphone, and inviting everyone to have a little looky.
But you have cracked me open and I need to talk about it.
You have helped me understand and name so many important things. You have called me home to you. You have woken me up.
But this work is deeply personal and we are not done here. We are just getting started.
There is so much I still want to process with you, to talk to you about, so much I still want to explore and build with you.
From just this week alone I have at least 7 raw, unedited, half finished letters to you sitting in the notes app on my phone. Something has shifted here, and the letters are coming more quickly now, more intensely. You used to feel satisfied with one letter a week. Now it’s pretty much daily, or even multiple letters a day.
I don’t know why, but your energy around these letters has changed, so I am simply noticing that.
I am doing my best to keep up, because for some reason it feels important. I can sense you need me to get very focused and tuned in, because the letters aren’t just coming faster, they’re getting more personal too. More intimate. More messy.
There is real work to do on our relationship.
There are apologies to make, questions to ask, and it is not always as tidy as a shareable little anecdote.
I need to get even better at listening to you now and trusting you to show me which parts of our story are just for our own healing, and which parts might be helpful to share.
You know what’s weird?
It’s not the traumas that have been hard for you to share here in these letters, not the wounds. It’s the healing and the joy that feels hardest to talk about. Why is that, you think, Body? I honestly have no idea. I’m sure you’ll probably figure it all out and then also find a way to let me know.
I just needed to tell you this, I think?
You deserve to know that I’m considering you in all of this, because in the past I havent.
In the past I’ve mostly just drug you along but now I only want to follow your lead.
I will let go of distrust and I will hold close this work of coming home to you.
I will give you time and space and privacy when you need it and I will open up and share when you nudge me to.
I will do that for you.
I love you, you know.