My First Letter to Me

In Personal by Allison Byxbe

Dear Allison,

A year ago your biggest celebration was a working toilet being installed downstairs in the condo. You even posted about it on Facebook (because, y’know, that makes everything legitimate). A year ago you were so deeply buried in the darkest time in your life, a usable toilet was your biggest thrill.

Now, in the midst of a months-on-end massive renovation, a working toilet is a major deal, especially because at the time, you had three children under the age of seven, with at least one who was working on bathroom skills and etiquette.

What you don’t know is that you’ll look back on that memory a year from now and grieve. Grieve that season of deep loneliness, anger, and being fearful. Lonely because no one you knew had ever talked openly about how deeply dark your own spirit could feel. Angry because you felt trapped. And fearful that you would never see the light of day again. Grieve because you were naive about how much lower your soul could sink. Grieve because now you know what you wouldn’t have even been able to hear a year ago: there is a new day, a new season coming. The darkness will not persist forever. There is a way out. There is hope. You will laugh again and experience a true thrill. Not just the superficial joy of a long-overdue convenience.

People will try and reason with you, or in my case, my own inner monologue: everything happens for a reason; the darkness makes us so much more grateful for the light; or my favorite — you really don’t have that much to be upset about since lots of people have it far worse than you.

And while I know that there’s grace to reclaim from that deeply aching part of my journey (one that I’m still unlayering and unpacking), it’s still a painful reminder of how broken our world is. How broken each of us is. Lurking somewhere in the back of our minds, we all know how fractured we really are. But most of us are trying desperately to deny, avoid, and bury that truth. That’s why our consumerism works against us so easily. You mean if I buy this, then I’ll feel whole, complete, in control, on top of the world, less anxious, less fearful? Well yeah, maybe, for another five minutes anyhow.

But the let down from that crash is just as hard as a sugar crash. My heart has sunk about five feet deeper into the mire after that little stint. How easy it is to lie to ourselves and lose sight of TRUTH and BEAUTY and LOVE.

I grieve the months my kids and my husband saw the half truth of me each day, breathing but only half living. They loved me so well through it. But I know they paid a price for it as well. We all did. And that’s what spikes up the fever of grief often as I’m falling asleep.

But one-year-ago Allison, you should also know that your story matters because your transparency will help others. You’ll see it the texts and FB messages and outright calls you get. You’ll realize that the greatest irony perhaps of it all is that this whole time you were actually surrounded by lovely souls who know full well the soul struggle you write about. Please, never think you are alone.

Signing off from 2019,

Your future self.