Letter about choosing how I spend my attention

31st of January 2020

Dear no one.

I am beginning to feel silly writing to you. But I am committed to the writing a little every week, even if it feels stupid and meaningless. It’s not about the letters. It’s about writing and creating a habit and dedicating time and attention to that regularly. It’s not about who is on the other side of this screen. It’s about keeping a promise to myself.

Another thing I have decided to be more dedicated to is how I spend my attention. I have uninstalled games and apps from my phone. I am reading. Maybe I’ll add more walks. But the hours disappearing into scrolling through social media or playing a game I don’t actually like on my phone, just for the dopamine hits have to stop. The last couple of days have been difficult. Mostly because I just uninstalled an app that took way too much of my attention. But I have decided to give it a month without this app on my phone and see what happens. I can still do all the social media scrolling on my computer, but since I don’t want to and since it requires me to open the computer and connect to the internet and open the page, I just don’t do it without a real reason. I do feel restless, I do pick up my phone over and over without thinking about it and my fingers move to find the games and apps I used to have. And there is an emptiness when I am forced to sit without the distraction. But maybe I can figure out exactly I am distraction myself from if I don’t just jump into the distraction.

I reach out to friends who have a hard time less. Not because I don’t want to be there for them. But because it makes me feel more lonely. Unanswered calls, messages with no answer, no real connection but a promise of someday, sometime, when things are better leave me feeling like no one cares, like I am not a priority. And that is a lie. A lie I do not need to feed. I need to throw my attention, my time and energy after people who have room for me in their lives. Not people who are struggling and drowning in their own troubles. My loneliness is not their responsibility, and I have spend too much time feeling sad and rejected and alone, because I chose to look for reciprocation in place that didn’t have that to offer. I am not cutting anyone out of my life. I am just taking a step back and trying to give more time and attention to friends I might not feels as strongly about or as connected to, but who wants to spend their time and energy on me.

I still miss the people who right now doesn’t have room for me in their lives. But this way I don’t allow my feelings to lie to me. I am not being rejected, these people do care deeply for me. But their survival, life quality and mental health right now depend on being able to have time, energy and attention to take care of themselves and not my wounded ego. And I still feel so lonely and sad and like no one cares. But I feel like I am taken responsibility for that in a new and better way. Not that I didn’t do that before. I didn’t and don’t resent these people for not having time and energy for me. But I also felt a sadness connected to these people. Because I like them and miss them and have room for them in my life. And I want to keep that room open. But if all I do is stare at that empty space I am going to keep feeling a lot emptier than I might actually be. And giving more attention to other things might help me discover what other things and other people I have been blind to. And it is also a way to be more respectful and allow these people time to themselves to figure out how they feel about me and whether they miss me and want to make more room for me or if they are happy without. And I feel like that is the least I can give them.

I have also discovered that things like reading and my work is something I need to force myself to do some days even if I feel like my mental health won’t allow me to do them. I might have gotten a little too good at listening to the parts of me that says “I can’t do that today”. I used to never listen to it, so this isn’t a disaster. It’s just showing me I need to find the balance. And that sometimes it’s okay to pressure myself a little more. I need to keep being dedicated and fight to do the things that are important to me even on the days when it is difficult. I just have to make sure to not overhear the signals that says stop. It seems I just forgot how much my depression was trying to keep me depressed, and that I have more power to fight it. So just like I sometimes (most of the time) write this blog because I have decided I have to, I also have to read,  not out of joy but because I have decided I need to and have a deadline. The deadline really helps.

I am reading “The Amber Spyglass” by Philip Pullman this week. It is so good. I keep thinking I’ll write something about dæmons and dust and how these concepts are important to me. But I can’t. And maybe my thoughts on this need to stay private. Maybe I’ll write about them in the future. Maybe nothing has to be decided today.

Dear reader, dear no one. Thank you for giving me your attention. Thank you for making me a little less alone.


Letter about a sadness I am not ready to express

26th of January 2020

Hi there reader. If you’re out there.

I wanted to write something to day. But the words won’t flow. Maybe I am too sad. Maybe I just know the words I need to write are not words that show my best side. Maybe I need time to sit with these feelings on my own for a while.

What I do want to write is that things around me put my life and my (lack of) accomplishments in a new focus and I am sad. Not because of what my life is or isn’t. But because I feel like what it is, is something that no one but me will celebrate and appreciate and care about. And I think I am allowed to grief for not being able to share my joys, my milestones, my life event, my accomplishements. I have these things, and I can celebrate them. But I guess I just realised that no one else will share in that joy and celebration, for the one reason that these things look so different to me than they do to most other people. And therefore other people will not think them great or worth of celebration. And that is ok. I do not need them to. But I will allow myself to feel sad about it for a little while.

I am ahead of my reading. I finished both “Northern Lights” and the sequel “The Subtle Knife” before this post was due. And that allows me to start “The Amber Spyglass” now. I love being back in this world. I love reading about Lyra’s journey and look so much forward to all the heart breaking things to come in the next book.

I wanted to write about dæmons and how much that idea mean to me. I wanted to write. I really tried to write Friday as that is my deadline. But there was too many other things. And today the words won’t do what I want. And I think I have to accept that that’s it for today. Hopefully I can do better next week. It’s too early to give up writing these letters.

It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay that I am what I am, even if no one understands. It’s okay to feel lonely and wish for someone to care about the important things in my life. I’ll get to the place where I can be alone in this and not feel lonely. I just have to give it time, and time I’ve got. And patience. I am sad but hopeful. And there are worse places to leave this letter.

If anyone is out there, reading, thank you for your time. Thank you for staying with me in my sadness. I hope you too allow yourself room for hard feelings that might not seem fair or right, but are human and real and honest none the less. Allowing room for them often gives room for them to drift away and not take up space in us any more.


A letter about sacrifices (that I don’t believe in), choices (that I stand by) and repaying a debt (that I might only imagine I owe)

19th of January 2020

Hi there, whoever is reading. I almost hope no one is reading this one. I kinda hope someone is reading this one.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my family and our history. My dad got ill when I was 6 years old and he has struggles with many different health problems since then. Especially his mental health. He also got cancer when I was 16 and getting cancer-free was a year in hell. And my mom has been the rock, the solid ground, the one who took care of everything and made out family function and run smoothly, the one who took care of doctors appointments and knew what had to be done and got it done. My brother is dyslexic and he needed a lot of help with school work.
And then there was me. I was always as problem. And I feel like everyone thought I was difficult on purpose. But it wasn’t on purpose. The world just hurt so much. And I was 30 before I had my autism diagnosis, that would have explained everything to everyone (including me). I didn’t have the language to explain myself. And no one had the energy or clarity or time to understand or help me find the words.
People tell me I am so eloquent. I am so good with words they say. But all forms of communication feel so difficult and hard and unnatural. There are days I think being non verbal would be relaxing. But I know how to speak and use my words so I don’t have an excuse to not communicate the way others ask me to. And even when other people compliment me on my communication skills I so often feel like I am an ocean that have only communicated a pond or a puddle, and everyone talks like they can see me clearly. Sometimes it feels like communicating hurts and I do no understand why. There are times when I am too overwhelmed when I cannot speak. Or if I am able to force words out they are the same few sentences like “Its fine. It’s good. Yes, that’s fine.” Often with smiles that feel so fake that I cannot understand that no one sees the pain and panic in my eyes. But they never do.

I was about 8 or I years old, when the school reacted to my isolation from the other kids. My mom had asked for help for me repeatedly before then. So when the school suggested a psychologist she of cause said yes. And that started this long process of several different psychologists, being taken out of some classes to sit with a special teacher and learn on my own, my mom taking time off from work to take me to see the psychologists (and we needed the money so her being away from work was bad and the bus tickets to go to the psychologists cost money too). And my parents were scared and angry, sometimes at the school, sometimes at me. The message I got in the midst of this confusing time was that everyone (maybe not my parents, but maybe also my parents), was unsatisfied with me. Everyone knew (as I knew) that I was not like the other children, and now that was a problem. I was a problem. I needed to be fixed. And the easy fix was to tell me to change, and have me change, and then the problem would be over.
Except I refused to change. I was me, and I didn’t want to not be me.
A better person would have sacrificed themself. I am not a better person. I am stubborn and arrogant and… I must be a lot of bad things. Because my family needed me to sacrifice. They needed me to give up something for them and they would have been fine if I had. They wouldn’t have had to o through whatever it was they went through. And I don’t remember much from this time (it’s like it’s hidden in an impenetrable fog or like my memories are missing, all I have are feelings and a few clear memories). What I have later learned is that what happened during that time is what caused my dad to start a long series of suicide attempts. And my mom still to this dayis so scared of being a bad mom. None of them can talk about that time. Whenever the subject comes up their voices turn hard and cold and angry and just behind that anger is pain and trauma. And though I do not understand it, it’s somehow clear that it’s my fault. That is also one of the few things they will say to me about it. They tell me I chose to be weird and not like the other children, that I made a choice to not conform and hidden just under that statement is the notion that I did it all on purpose. That I hurt them and I could have chosen not to.

And a part of me believes that they a right. I had a choice. It feels like it was a choice. Maybe just because that is the story I have been told for the last 20 years. Maybe because it was. No. It was. In part it was. I remember looking at the other kids at school and thinking that I wasn’t like them. I didn’t think I was better or worse. Just that I was different. And to be like them would be to not be me. And that would be a betrayal, an act of violence, something horrible and unnatural that I would have to do to myself, and I chose not to conform and try to be or act like everyone else. Something else that confirms that this was a choice I made is how many people I have met later in life whom have all had the same feeling of being different and needing to conform to be accepted. And I have never talked to anyone who made the same choice I made. They all talk about it as a choice, just like I do. And not a single one of them don’t regret conforming. I know in my heart that I made the right choice. I would make the same choice again and again and again. Even now, knowing what it cost my family, knowing how it hurt them, I wouldn’t change my choice. Even if I could go back I wouldn’t change what I chose.

Who am I to do that? Who do I think I am that I believe that that choice was worth the pain I caused my family? How can I not want to go back and take back their pain? Who am I to think I shouldn’t sacrifice for my family? They would sacrifice for me in a heartbeat. They would not hesitate do to anything within their power for me. They love me. They would do anything for me. Why couldn’t I sacrifice for them?
I don’t believe in that kind of sacrifice. And I would never ask that kind of sacrifice of anyone. I am always a bit suicidal, so saying I would die for someone is a bit meaningless. But it’s not that I wouldn’t die for the people I care about. It’s that I would not sacrifice a person’s humanity for anything or anyone. And I would hate to know someone did that, even if they claimed it was for me. I would die, I would fight, I would live, I would suffer if I knew it could save the humanity, the soul, the feeling of value and respect and… I don’t know. All the things that makes life life. If I could save those things in another person I would sacrifice. But I will not sacrifice myself, my core, my value, my independent thoughts and feelings, my soul, my light, my being, just to not cause discomfort or pain in people who cannot tolerate difference. And that is what I was told was happening. I was different and that difference had to be killed or destroyed, and if I died with it no one cared. No one would miss me. No one would think it was a loss. Instead a new person was to be installed in my head, a new person who wasn’t me, who wasn’t different, who comformed, would be given my life. And I would either be dead or a silent passenger watching someone else walk away with my life and be loved for all the things I could never be. And I rebelled against the idea and I fought back with what little I had to fight with.

And so the thought that has stuck with me in the last month and a half while thinking about this is that I get why my family doesn’t like me. I get why they would dislike me, hate me, wish for me to not be the person I am but instead be the person they needed. And a better person would have given them that. I am not a better person. Sometimes I think this is the very reason I always end up in Slytherin when I take a Hogwarts House test. I don’t believe in that kind of sacrifice. I was arrogant enough to believe I deserved better. I refused to kill parts of myself to be accepted and loved. And I stand by that choice. With all my heart. Even when my hearts breaks. Even when I know I am not loved for who I am. Even when I feel unlovable and unloved. I was asked to sacrifice. And when I refused my dad started trying to kill himself, believing his family (my mom, my brother, me) would be better off without him. My mom is still haunted by the things that came as a result of my decision. In a way I sacrificed them. I didn’t understand it at the time. But I do now. That is why I am not a good person, why I am not someone they can like, why I feel unlovable. Because I am an adult now, I know better now, I understand the consequences of my choice and I still choose me over them. I still choose not to conform, not to sacrifice, not to break myself. And I wonder what kind of person I am. I wonder where I got that arrogance. How did I ever come to the belief that that was an acceptable choice to make?

I am not always a good person. I try to be. I work hard to be. I feel like I have spend every moment of my life, trying to compensate and make up for that choice to not conform. I know I have caused more pain that I can ever hope to make up for. I own that choice. I am what I am. I did what I did. But every choice since then has been an attempt at making the lives of my family, a little better, a little easier, a little less painful. And I almost managed to erase myself in doing that. I didn’t learn boundaries and didn’t stand up for myself in any other way. I feel like used up all my being difficult points in one go, on one choice, and had to be a nice agreeable person for the rest of my life. Breaking free of that thinking is so hard. But I must admit that if anyone has the arrogance to believe that that debt can ever be repaid I am probably that person. I don’t feel guilty about what I did, but I do feel like I owe my parents something. Something I am not sure what is. Except that it means I should not be difficult or cause them problems. And that every time my mental health causes me to need help and support, I am somehow adding to the debt.

These are just thought and feelings. I see their cause and effect. I see the path from my 8 year old self to now, and how that has shaped me. But I am not sure I am allowed to undo this. I am not sure I am entitled to erase the debt and tell them I no longer owe anything in payment for that choice.

I needed to write this. I needed the words out, even if no one reads them.

There’ll be a real letter on Friday. This one was just an extra.

As always a thank you for your time. I wish you the best and hope, whoever you are dear reader, that you have lighter, better and kinder thoughts to keep you company.

Letter about the latest book I read and wondering if there is room for disagreeing with people

17th of January 2020

Dear no one, someone, or whoever is reading this.

So this week’s book was “The Book of Dust II: The Secret Commonwealth” by Philip Pullman. And I love being back in this world. As I wrote last week I first visited this world when I was 14. And to go back and discover more things, more questions and maybe if I’m lucky more answers after so many years is amazing. Sometimes I forget how amazing reading a new book is. Not knowing what is on the next page, but longing to find out. And Pullmans writing is amazing. I love re-reading because I love to slip back to a familiar world with familiar characters and knowing where I am going just means I know the journey is worth taking again. This book offered something else. It allowed me to go back to a world and characters I know so well, and then join them on a whole new journey. I guess this might be why so many love fan-fiction these days. I was entertained from start to finish and every character was worth reading about, so I was never disappointed when the point of view shifted.

It’s somehow a rare feeling for me to not know what happens next in a story. I rarely see a movie or TV-show without having figured every twist and turn out in advance. It often bores me. On few lucky occasions I feel clever, when the plot twist took a little effort to work out. I like stories, and all forms of storytelling fascinates me. I am fascinated by the way different mediums tell different stories and uses different tools to tell them. And that is part of why I so often know where stories are going. I don’t watch or read a crime story trying to play detective and figure the clues out. I play the author and try to see where and how the answer is hidden. I am disappointed when the answer wasn’t hidden at all or wasn’t foreshadowed, and bad writing sticks out to me. I marvel not at the answer, but at the cleverness used to hide it in plain sight. If I think there’ll be a plot twist my mind jumps at the chance to solve the puzzle.

Pullman writes stories that doesn’t feel like they are full of plot twists. They are just great journeys and the reader isn’t just reading about it, we are along for the ride and thought we might have a direction (in this one the direction was East) we don’t know much else. And I think I felt all the feelings reading this one. It’s not that I never feel anything reading or following a story. Sometimes I just think I either feel so much in my own life that I don’t know how to have any feelings left for fictional stuff, or my mind gets so caught up in solving the puzzle that I forget to let the feelings dive in to the story and feel what the story feels like.

My favourite Philip Pullman quote is

“There are some themes, some subjects, too large for adult fiction; they can only be dealt with adequately in a children’s book.”

That feels so true to me. That is what he does. These books, in this universe, about Lyra are so dark and painful. Sometimes it is hard to even consider them children’s books at all. I think I have always been drawn to that darkness and the truth that is to be found there. These stories aren’t dark for the sake of being dark. They are dark because they are telling children and adults about the darkness of the world we live in.

And I think that is why I found it hard to look up what other fans of these books write about “The Book of Dust”. Because both books contain scenes of sexual assault and I found those scenes very important. But other readers was very displeased with it. I respect that opinion a lot. I understand why a lot of people are tired of rape and assault scenes. I am to an extent very tired of them myself. But mostly I am tired of a certain kind of scenes. The ones that are sexualised and shown from the perspective of the perpetrator, the ones written, filmed, acted, directed and edited by people who have no idea of what consent is and who doesn’t treat the scenes and especially the victims with the respect they deserve. The kind of scenes that exists to make some male hero character take action and rise to the occasion and that neglects everything the victim feels and goes through. The kinds of scenes that are only included to disturb the audience, to be sensational and dramatic. I find that kind of use of sexual assault to be very problematic, overused and disrespectful. But I don’t want to get to a point where these things cannot be shown or written about. I understand why some people don’t want to see it, hear about it or read about it. I understand why some victims feel the need to stay away from these subjects. But as a victim myself I find great comfort in people who are willing and able to talk about it, to not shy away from these ugly things, who want to shine a light on this and help make the world aware of the fact that these things happen, every day to real people. But is has to be done by people who are capable of doing it with respect and who are standing firmly on the side of the of victims, telling the world that these things are never ever okay. And it has to have a place in the story. And the way I personally see the scenes on these book they have a place, they are not sexualised, they have no sympathy for any of the perpetrators and they show us something real about the world we live in. I read them feeling thankful, that my experiences weren’t too taboo, too dark, too ugly to look at. And that helps me feel like my experiences might not have turned me into something too dark and too ugly to look at.

I think a lot of people will disagree with this. But I felt a need to write it. Because as much as I understand the reasons some people do not want to read another rape scene, I still need them. And I don’t want to force those scenes on anyone. It’s okay to disagree. I just needed to tell someone, that I needed those scenes. And I might not be the only one. I don’t feel like I was eloquent enough to write this, I don’t necessarily have the right arguments at this moment in time. And I know that the internet is unkind to that kind of thing. But maybe someone else need what I need and maybe they need to see that they are not alone in finding comfort in knowing that conversations about assault can be had and that our experiences can be respectfully represented in the media. I don’t think Pullman succeeded 100% in making these scenes unproblematic. But I would respectfully ask to be allowed to disagree with some of the hard criticism of these scenes.

Somehow that was hard to write. I don’t want to hurt anyone. But I had a lot of feelings about the criticism I read. Writing something like this is new and not something I hope to do again in the future.

I wanted to write more. I wanted to write about trying to overcome loneliness by investing in people who actually have something to give back, even if what they have to give back isn’t the things I feel like I need. By trying to spend time with people I like, but do not feel connected to. And by forcing myself out the door to participate in new things. But I am not sure what to say about it. And honestly writing what I just wrote and deciding that it has to go on the internet is surprisingly scary. Even when I post this anonymously on a blog that has no comment section. So I think that’ll be all for this week. I’ll try to write something sensible and less scary next week. I might actually get the hang of this blog thing and of writing every week.

To anyone reading, thank you for being there. Thank you for your time. I hope there is space enough for us to disagree and I believe that there is room enough for all the voices and that many other voices than mine deserve to be heard. Thank you for listening to mine and giving it space. I needed it, and now, knowing I have spoken my mind, I find myself with much more room to listen again.
Whoever you are out there, on the other side of my screen, I wish you all the best and please take good care of yourself whatever that means for you.

Letter about the joy re-reading books

10th of January 2020

Dear no one, or someone, or whoever is reading this.

I am not sure how I am going to keep writing with no one to write to. But then I think how is that different from before. And I know I have to keep writing.

A and I went to see the musical Hamilton in London last year, and there is a line in the song “Non Stop” that says: “Why do you write like you need it to survive?” And that is the line that made me realise that I have to start writing again. I need writing. I need whatever it is I feel when in am typing out words. And that’s why I asked A to start this blog with me.
I have been very hooked on Hamilton since I first started listening to the album. I relate to Hamilton’s drive and his need to accomplish things and make his mark on the world. Songs like “Non Stop” or “My Shot” have proven very useful in my battle against depression, suicide thoughts and apathy. I listen to all the songs a lot. I have never really listened that much to music. So I am surprised at the effect this has had on me. I am so thankful this exists, that I have found it, that I am able to find strength in the words and the way they are delivered. And I am thankful to have a friend like A who was willing to buy us tickets to a musical she had never heard of and that I had a very hard time explaining to her in an coherent way. And I am thankful she enjoyed the musical as much as I did, since she had paid for the tickets and I was terribly afraid she wouldn’t like it.
I have been thinking about writing something about my thoughts on Hamilton and what it means to me. But I haven really found the words. Maybe I will someday. Maybe I don’t need to and just playing the album on repeat is enough.

So as I wrote last week I need to read too. Books. The love of my life. The only things I refused to compromise on when I moved to a smaller apartment. All my furniture could go, all my things. But not my books. I needed my books. I told my family that my new home needed room for my books and my bed and everything else could be talked about. And if there was any problems after that we would have to figure out what to do with the bed, because the books were not up for negotiation. And now I have them all here. And I haven’t had the mind to read. Not a lot at least. So I am starting this new year desperately trying to do something I have wanted to do for several years now. And that is read a book a week. I only work one day a week, I don’t have that many other obligations except taking care of myself and my mental health. I have plenty of time to read. It’s just that I don’t always have the concentration.
But since I am lonely and desperately miss interesting conversations and new ideas, book seems like a good solution. And I need to invest time and energy in it. Not just wait around for the mood to strike. I have to make it a priority. Just like writing has to be a priority. And maybe I could try to keep myself going by promising to write a few words about last week’s book. Since I have to write my letter for the blog on Fridays and I deadline for finishing a book is Sundays I will likely write about the book I finished last week and maybe mention what book I am reading now or maybe which book I plan to read next week. That way I’ll have a way to express my thought on the book and be a little obligated to actually keep both the writing and the reading going. I do not believe that tactic will be a success. But it is a thing I could try, and if it fails I won’t be disappointed in myself, because it didn’t really seem that realistic in the first place. And if I succeed just a few times this week I’ll be really impressed with myself. And that sound to me like a fine idea, that can’t go to wrong, and that will at least give me something to write about if I can’t think of anything. So maybe 2020 Letters to Here will be a blog about books I read and if reading a lot makes me a little less lonely. It’s an experiment worth trying and documenting.

And of cause I’ll write sad letters about my depression. It isn’t going anywhere and I need an outlet for the thoughts and feeling that would otherwise suffocate me. And I’ll write about my frustrations with my parents and how difficult it is to get help with all my diagnonsens. And maybe, just maybe, there’ll be a lot of hopeful stuff too about good days and progress and stuff like that, if those things happen to show up. You never know, a lot can happen in a year.

So. Last week I read “Book of Dust I: La Belle Sauvage” by Philip Pullman. I first read “His Dark Materials” when I was 14. The book series was a Christmas present from my parents who didn’t know anything about them, I had just wished for them because I liked books and the covers of this specific book series in this edition was so beautiful. And I have never read anything like it. These book made me question. I’ve always questioned almost everything, but these books opened my mind to so many more new questions. And when I later heard that a new book called Book of Dust was being written I was so excited. And then I had to wait. For almost 15 years. I got it as soon as I came out, but then my concentration failed me and I had to wait a few months to actually be able to read it. But when I finally did it was so amazing! And it was wonderful being back in Lyra’s world and think about Dust and dæmons and all that. And I loved re-reading it last week. I have always loved re-reading books. I know that many people wish they could forget a book so they could read it again for the first time an not know what it is about and be surprised by the plot. But I love re-reading. I love going back and meeting the characters again, I love going on this journey that I know and discover it again and discover how much I missed the first time, or how much I have grown as a person. I never think I wish I could forget and experience it again for the first time. I love returning. Like meeting an old friend again or like finding my way home.

I visited Oxford for the first time in May of 2018, during my interrail trip. It was amazing to see the place I have only ever read about. I visited the Bodleian Library and the Botanic Garden. I had a picture taken on The Bench. I walked the streets and imagined this as Lyra’s Oxford. And I went to the Trout in Godstow where the first part of “La Belle Sauvage” takes place. I saw the ruins on the other side of the river. And I remembered that trip re-reading this book. I remembered the streets, I remembered the Trout and the ruin. And the book and the story came alive in a whole new way. And I missed Oxford and want to go back soon. I have never experienced anything like the feeling I had in Oxford. I got of the train, walked through the train station and five steps outside the station building, I felt like this was the best place I have ever visited. I felt at home and at peace. I love London and have done so since my first trip there when I was 16. It was a school trip and I was nervous going because I had no friends going on this trip. But the trip was great. The city amazing. And I have return to London so many times I am losing count. At this point I feel at home when I arrive in London, I know my way around, know where to go and how to get there, I barely even think about the route when I glace at a tube map. Last time I was there I even gave some one directions and felt confident doing that. I love London. And yet Oxford took me by surprise. I won’t say I love it better. I just fell instantly in love in a way I cannot compare to London. And I hope my future brings me many reasons to return to Oxford and lots of time there.

I think I’ll stop writing for now. But for the first time in a long time I fell ok writing a new letter next week. Next week I’ll write about reading “Book of Dust II: The Secret Commonwealth” by Philip Pullman for the first time. Maybe I can contrast reading a new book with re-reading an old one. Maybe I’ll write about dæmons. One thing for sure, I’ll have the book finished on time.

Whoever is reading this, if anyone is. Take good care of yourself, whatever that means to you. I am sending you good thoughts and thank you for being there, for your time and your attention.

The last Letter to A

3rd of January 2020

Hi A

This will be the last letter for you. I had thought that I had a few more months to give you. But I have come to the conclusion that waiting for you isn’t helping any of us.

I called you right after midnight on New Years Eve, my first phone call of the new decade. And you couldn’t pick up. And that’s ok, I understand, you don’t need to explain or apologise or anything. It’s ok. You couldn’t pick up. You did what was right for you and I will always ask you to do that. But it hurt and I felt so lonely. You wrote to me the next morning, telling me you had felt touched that I had called and that it had meaning for you. And that didn’t erase my hurt. All I could feel was hurt. And you being moved by my reaching out doesn’t make a dent in that pain. So I have to stop hurting myself. I have to stop thinking that if I pour enough love and care and kindness into the world that my own pain and loneliness will lift. I have to stop pouring so much of my attention, worry and care into people who doesn’t have anything to give back. It doesn’t leave me feeling better, it leaves me feeling empty.

A, I really care about you. And that doesn’t stop. I am still here. I won’t not pick up the phone if you call. But I need to be more careful about my attention and where I spend my energy. And if I have to get back to writing I have to stop writing to someone who won’t read it. Because when we talked about this it was with the idea that you’d write back some day. And right now I cannot wait for some day. I need to find something worth writing for that isn’t depended on you. Because it’s not your responsibility to give me something to write for. You have other and far more important things you are working on. Because your life is full of other things. You are fighting battles that need your full attention.

I think there is a good probability you’ll never read this. And that is ok. I just need to write it anyway. I spend so much time not asking for what I need, because none of the people in my life have that to give. And in the spirit of the new year and the new decade I think it’s time I stop being sad about the things the people in my life cannot give me. Instead I am going to try to find new people who might need what I have to give and who might have some of what I need to give. I won’t replace anyone. I’ll just take some of all the empty space in my life and try to find good and meaningful ways to fill it up again. I have to fight my way out of this depression. And no doctor, no medication and no amount of waiting for something outside myself is going to make that fight any easier. I am mostly on my own in this. The doctors and professionals have given up. That is a luxury I do not have.

I have so much to give. So much I want to share. It isn’t just that I feel empty because I don’t get anything back. And a part of my current pain is that I try to give and give and give. But you are not in a place to receive or accept. There isn’t room in your life for all the good I want to give. And that’s ok. That’s life, that’s bad timing. And I have no resentment or bad feelings towards you. I just have a big sadness and loneliness that I am going to take responsibility for.

I don’t know how to do that. The depression is still not better. I am not really the best version of myself yet. And building new friendships takes work. Work I am willing to do, but not sure I am able to.

Most of all I am not sure how to write anything for next week. I am not sure what this blog will be if it isn’t letters. And I am not sure how to write if I am not writing to someone. Someone not me. But I have a week to figure it out.

I have so much work to do. Figuring out how to fix my depression, finding and making friends, finding new ways to write letters, boundaries are also a big thing I absolutely need to work on and I have to read more. A lot more. The new year starts out busy.

I hope this year starts out good for you. I hope this year is a year full of growth and that it gets so much better. I hope it’s a year of not just listening to ourselves but action on what we hear when we do.

A, I have so much love and care for you. I am your friend and consider you my friend. I am here for you. Like I have always been. I am still full of hope for you and know that you have great things ahead of you. I know you deserve good things and a good life. You deserve kindness and care, and I hope to be a source of that in your life. But till you are ready I am going to take a step back and take a little better care of myself, and try not to get so hurt by things that isn’t hurtful. And till I have mastered that I’ll have patience with myself and allow myself to be vulnerable and sensitive and know that there are far worse things to be. I am stronger than this. Or at least strong enough to be vulnerable and sensitive, kind and caring. I just have to be a little more careful how I spend it and where my expectations lie.

Take good care of yourself A