I haven’t said this out loud, for fear that it might sound like judgement—when in fact it comes purely from a place of gratitude—but I can’t believe it took so long for you to see yourself.
For you to see what I saw years ago when we were young and scared, but not scared enough, and overly confident in the way that made us seem both aloof and interesting to strangers.
For you to see how “you” you are—an individual to the core, someone who knows what works for her.
Someone who apologizes not out of self-doubt, but because she never wants to cause harm or pain to others.
Someone who is brutally honest in a way that can seem shocking at first because we don’t expect “how are you?” to be followed with any other answer but “fine.”
Someone who has fought battles that my heart cannot wrap its mind around and who still finds a way to get up in the morning and love.
Someone who wants to be useful and productive, who wants to feel accomplished each day.
Someone whose brain is insistent on always learning and growing and stuffing itself with more, always more.
Someone who fights with quiet dignity for those she loves, but isn’t too put together to fight loudly and boldly when the situation calls for it.
Someone who kindly, and with the utmost care, knocked down the walls I had built around me and made friendship a priority, an inevitability, a gift I would have drowned without.
I know that at some point in your life you saw glimpses of these things in yourself; you noticed your strength and kindness and capacity for love. But I was never sure if you fully believed them. There seemed to be too much happening around you, inside you, for you to ever find the stillness that was you. And while I never judged you for this (believe me, I’m still learning to see myself completely) I always hoped I’d be here the moment it all clicked for you—the moment you realized your worth.
But I never imagined such a necessary, life-affirming moment could be filled with so much pain. Then I remembered how you saved me not so long ago when I began to wake up to my own worth.
How you listened patiently and let me cry without promising that anything would be okay.
How you reminded me of all my good when I felt like I was suffocating in layers of sad and hopelessness.
How time and location and responsibility didn’t matter when I was “having a moment” or needed to curse God or replay conspiracy theories looking for clues to how it all went wrong.
You held my hand through big, sad moves home and months of unemployment and scary grief-induced weight loss and the painful dance of going back and moving forward and standing still.
In the end I began to see myself.
And I was everything you had always said I was, everything you had made me feel in those small moments of connection that only friends understand.
So here you are, in your own moment. In that sad, scary, uncomfortably real place where you can choose to see yourself for who you are—who you’ve always been—or choose to hide yourself away because it all seems too big, too hard, too full of unknowns and endings and tears and questions.
And I hear it in your voice. I hear it in a way that doesn’t sound like you, but sounds more like the “you” that’s been aching to be seen.
I hear that you are ready—ready to be scared but not scared enough, to be overly confident, to open your heart, to learn more and more, and to fight bravely for yourself after so many years.
You are ready to let go. You are ready to choose your soul.
So I will listen patiently. I will let you cry. I will never promise that it will be okay. But I will always hold your hand. I will show you your good. I will stand strong while you go back and move forward and stand still.
Because I see you on the days that you see yourself, but most especially on the days that you don’t.
Author: Nicole Cameron
Image: Annie Spratt/Unsplash