There you are, my dear old friend.
I've missed you.
Lately, I have found myself overwhelmed with a magnitude of crowds, of people, of company. And I longed for some alone time with you.
We've been dancing this dance... you and I... for many years:
Since I learned how to walk. Since I learned how to talk. Since I learned how to play with no one else but you. You showed me how to put puzzles together, and how to read books every night, and how to write in my diary, and how to write poems about the boys I loved, and how to cry myself to sleep at nights when things were tough for a sensitive kid like me, and how to imagine worlds with you guiding me through it.
When I was ten you and I got to have our own bedroom. And not so long after you became my travel buddy, my comrade, my second in command.
Or were you my leader?
Guiding me with courage, despite others who mistakenly called you 'loneliness.'
You'd always laugh at that common error: '
Loneliness! How silly to think of ME as loneliness! Ha!'
I laughed right along with you, urging people to call you by your name.
I've been your defender. I've been your follower. I've been your alley in a world that doesn't always accept you as who you are. A world who is afraid of you, and mistake you for another. A world that thinks of you as a prisoning thought, rather than a freeing one.
But to me you are a source of freedom; Freedom of the self to be, and grow and explore...
so that self can go outside to the world and know WHO it is, and WHAT it is, and WHY it is.
You are full today.
Today - you are full.
I open you every day, or at least I TRY to, but not every day you show up beaming out of my chest as if you were expanded into a ten feet tall balloon. Not every day you are filled with LOVE so unconditional and tender. Not every day you are full like this and not an inch of you is broken.
Not every day.
You've been broken before, dear Heart, so days like this one are especially special.
When you were broken, you felt so fragile and small. I'd say you even felt hollow and your beat was faint, as if it was barely there.
I know you will be broken again, dear Heart.
I know it's just part of the human experience, and after all - here I am - a human, experiencing.
But today, oh boy, today you showed me that your size is infinite, that your beat is louder than any words, that your touch is warm and comforting.
Oh how I wish you'd stay full forever, my dear heart... How I wish.
But I know.
I know nothing is forever, even you.
Because ends, ends are part of the human experience, and after all... I am merely a human, experiencing.
Forever your opener,
I hear you tapping on my skylight.
It is past midnight. I start counting your drips, but they drop so quickly I can't count any longer. It is an avalanche of drops. Drip...drip...drip.
You don't come here often, to the city of angels.
But when you do - you make a splash. (pun definitely intended)
And as quickly as you show up - you leave.
You leave my skylight glossy with the after glow of your thumping against it.
You leave me satisfied knowing my car is getting a free car wash ride.
You leave me wanting more of you and your somber melancholic influence.
Oh, to walk in the rain, to slip in a puddle, to be covered with water, to drink the rain, to dance in it, to sleep in it, to wallow, to rejoice, to fill the soil with goodness, to wear rainboots, to hop from one puddle to another, to shake off my raincoat, to leave the umbrella outside, to see the flowers that blosoom when you are gone, to write about you like you were a love story, to write about you like you were a friend with history, to write about you because you are seen, Rain.
To write about you because you are seen.
Today, completely out of the blue, and with no apparent reason - you showed up.
You gently sat in my heart, felt its calm breaths no matter the outside pressure, and hypnotized me with a sense of calmness that was quite... NEW.
I don't believe I've ever felt your presence like I did today.
Actually, I don't think I ever felt your presence.
Was this our first encounter, Patience?
You surely didn't grace me with your presence in my childhood, or in my teens.
As you'd expect - growing up in a conflicted area such as Israel; experiencing wars, constant threats, and suicide bombings... is no walk in the park.
I often romanticize my childhood because there were also loads of magic in it, but the constant survival threat the country faced affected all its inhabitants. Me included.
Only years later I realized how deeply I adapted the belief that 'the world is out to get me, I may day tomorrow, so Carpe Diem or die trying!'
There was simply no room for you, dear patience, with that belief running in my mind.
You were not there in my 20s either: I was mostly busy surviving brutal winters in New York and doing my best chasing dreams around - naively not knowing they were all along inside of me - and the fast pace of the city easily made me forget about your existence.
Does anyone in New York City know you, Patience!? I wonder.
People used to remind me of you. They'd urge me to invite you over. And I would roll my eyes and utter grunts in response. 'Thanks, no thanks' type responses.
I must confess: I used to hear your name and actually be irritated.
Yes, you were a source of annoyance, of irritation, and even at times... of RAGE.
Perhaps I should have started meditating years sooner? Perhaps.
And out of the blue, TODAY you showed up like a breath of fresh air mumbling 'Hey, I think you are ready for me. I've been PATIENTLY waiting for this moment. Nice to finally meet you.'
Why TODAY? I wonder.
It could be that enough years have gone by. That I now have reached enough maturity to join in a dance with you every once in a while.
How odd: ironically, it seems that the less time one has - the more one values it and as a result... becomes patient?
Life never ceases to amaze me with its irony.
Thank you for that pleasant surprise, dear Patience.
Until we meet again,
I love you.
Let me repeat: I LOVE YOU.
I love that you are always there, waiting for my arrival.
You stand with open arms greeting me no matter the hour, no matter the place, no matter what hat I wear in this bizarre thing called life.
When I am in your arms - together we stop time. We move mountains. And we have epic levels of fun. We have been having fun since playground days, haven't we?
We had fun in the sand building castles, and putting puzzles together at home, and wearing costumes and making up stories of faraway lands. I kept chasing you around and to my absolute fortune - you stayed. Always there, waiting for me to notice you and swing back into your arms for that sweet embrace.
And all these years later - we still play this dance, you and I.
Some people will say you play it 'hard to get.' That you are a player and unattainable. Some even believe you are an illusion and that you don't exist. Some write books about you. Some plot how to find you. Some dissect every element of your being and some make shrines for you and pray for your arrival. Like a Messiah in a broken world.
And I...? I see you as LOVE. I see you as simply love.
Because like you - to me, LOVE is an ever present force that is there, and it's up to ME to show up to IT.
And how DO I show up to you?
By freeing my imagination.
By stepping into uncharted waters.
By following instincts.
By setting rules so I could break them.
By learning tricks so I could play them.
By being patient so I could breathe.
By relaxing so I could release.
By mastering my craft, and crafting my mastery,
By sensing inspiration from the roots of my ancestry,
And above all - show up in gratitude,
When you come see me in my solitude.
So all that is left for me to say is simply THANK YOU,
Know that you are dear to me, and that I LOVE YOU.
Ahhhh here you are again. I should have known you'd be here... you never miss an opportunity to perk up when a new endeavor is on the corner.
I can feel you in my chest, beating on me real fast. I can feel you when I am in love and butterflies are dancing in my stomach. I can feel you on stage when my voice trembles and my face flushes red. And sometimes you show up in less predictable times - out of the blue and announced - I feel you throughout the day, like a flying insect in my tummy, or a ticking clock, or a wood-pecker that longs to be noticed.
Truth is - you are one of a kind dear Anxiety. You show up when things are good, when things are bad, and any and all times in between. Like, right now as I am about to take a leap into a new direction.
Frankly, I am used to adding more hats to my collection - after all I am an actor, a voice-over artist, a screenwriter, a poet, a blogger, a jewelry designer, a business owner, an aunt, a partner, a cat mama, and lastly - a Clubhouse enthusiast... and YOU, dear Anxiety, have predictably shown up at every single of ones of those new endeavors of mine.
You are often there with Fear and Self-Doubt and together you three are making me feel like I'm the smallest speck in the universe - far too small to take on a new endeavor. Will Power and Optimism have had to peel me up with all their might to put you three on simmer at times. Sometimes you three fight back and even bring Terror along for the ride. In rebuttal, Will Power and Optimism bring in my secret sauce - Confidence, and all is well that ends well.
Sometimes when things are better - you bring Excitement along with you and together you make me a giggly bubbly version of myself. You are always a collaborator dear Anxiety. Rarely show up alone. You have many MANY friends inside my body, heart, mind and soul...
Today you showed up with Fear, Self-Doubt, and Shame to scare me off.
You showed up to warn me, like:
'Um, do you really want a piece of THAT!? We're not ready for that though, are we? No, we're not. Yes, we are! No! We are NOT ready for that. It's too much for this little frail body.'
It worked. You scared me. You made me anxious. I was warned enough to shut my computer down and announce: 'I am not ready for that!'
But then... a little voice popped up. A little voice of Acceptance.
So now here I go, with Acceptance, breathing you away, and breath by breath you seize to warn me. You seize to knock on my belly anxiously. But hey - I know you are my protector. I accept that. I honor that. I appreciate that! I know you mean well and only well.
But I don't need more protection now, dear Anxiety.
I've been here before and I can be here again.
Your services today - dear Anxiety - are no longer needed.
New endeavor - here I come!
With a loving send off...
I stepped into a therapist’s office. My first time there.
There was a vase of flowers on the wooden coffee table. Lillies, I think.
One chair and a sofa. I chose the sofa - naturally.
I sat down and after a very brief 'meet and greet' chat, I announced: "I am here because I am a workaholic! I’d rather die than being unsuccessful and when I don’t work - I feel enormous guilt and shame and want to bury myself under a rock."
I could tell the therapist was not shaken by my words.
Nor was she impressed with them.
I dare to say she may have had a twinkle of enjoyment in her eye... but I wouldn't know for sure. The cloud of self-indulgence may have fogged my awareness at that moment. All I could think of was: 'What is she gonna say?! How is she gonna help me?! CAN she help me? Am I doomed!? Or is this a completely idiotic thing to say to a therapist!? After all, there are far worse problems in the world than being a "workaholic". Like boo--hooo! Other people don't even HAVE work they can get addicted to! And you are complaining that you actually love what you do so much that you rather be doing it 24/7!? Um, yeah. First world problems is an understatement here.'
The therapist finally spoke to me as if she read my mind. (Because let's face it -some people absolutely know how to do that despite the complete lack of evidence)
"Seems to me like you are not very gentle with yourself, are you?"
Gentle with myself. Huh.
Wait, that’s it!? Be gentle with myself? Um, yeah, I know that. I mean. Who doesn’t? This isn't as profound of a gem as I had hoped she would drop at my lap.
Then, she proceeded: ‘How do you self care?’
I mumbled: '...Well... I love what I do...'
‘I realize that.’ She continued.
'But how do you self care? DO you self care? Let's brainstorm together some ways in which you can self-care.’
I didn’t knew what to say.
I was dumbfounded by the simplicity of the notion of 'self-care' to fix such a giant life/death problem (not really, but you get my drift...hopefully) and by my inability to answer what seemed like a fairly simple question.
The session continued with a discussion on the various self-care methods that may help me be 'gentler with myself' and before I knew it - time was up and I was out to the races to investigate what IS this mysterious thing called 'Self Care!?
Naturally - I opened my calendar - as a workaholic does - and squeezed in a weekly ‘chore’ to go to the Korean spa, and unwind in the best way I could think of: Five different types of sauna, hot mugwort bath, and a scrub or a massage if I felt like splurging on myself that week. Several months later - I was acing my spa version of self-care. My muscles were thankful and my skin was enjoying the pampering.
But... I was still a workaholic.
And more importantly - I was still talking to myself in a very UN-gentle way.
My therapist noticed. I mean - we were far from strangers now, and have had long talks about my childhood and what's not, and as a preceptive and empathetic person would - she recognized my tendency to be guilt-ridden and be hard on myself way too often.
She asked me: 'How do you talk to yourself?'
I grinned: 'What do you mean? I don't talk to myself. I mean - I talk to my cats occasionally when no one is around, but to myself? No, never been a person that does that...'
She laughed at my momentary innocence: 'I meant - in your mind... in your heart. How do you talk to yourself? What do you say to yourself? How do you self-talk? Self sooth? Self-reflect?'
I proceeded to laugh at myself and finally got on her wave length.
'Huh. I am not the most versatile in my self talk I believe.'
'Okay, well... how about you diversify the ways in which you talk to yourself?'
Once again - my therapist had me dumbfounded by the simplicity of her questioning.
And here I was - down with a challenge and determined to diversify the ways in which I would 'talk to myself!'
For as long as I remember - if I have had a hard time telling someone dear in my life something important - I’d write a letter. Even if I would never send it.
I wrote a letter to my grandmother when she passed away - as a way to deal with the loss and grief, I wrote letters to my teen boyfriend when I didn’t like how our relationship was going but found myself unable to tell him in person, I wrote letters to my parents and never sent them. And since the process of letter writing to my loved ones had always brought me some sort of understanding and even joy - I thought to myself 'Why not write... to MYSELF?'
So in a true 'yes, and' fashion - I started writing letters to myself.
And in order to diversify - I started writing to different aspects of myself:
To the guilt that came up, to the perfectionism in me that seemed to have a hold of me sometimes, to the sadness when it appeared, to the pride when it came over for a visit, to my body in the days when it needed a mental hug, to my inadequacy when it showed up, and my self-doubt, my fear, my rage, my innocence, my joy…..
Before long - I had found my way to talk to myself. To ALL parts of myself.
'Dear Self' is the collection of all those letters.
Flaunting your million dollar smile wherever you go.
Showing those shiny teeth and laughing out loud like you own the place. Own ANY place.
You don't give any flying fu**s to anyone and truly own the meaning of 'loving yourself.'
Between you and I - I dig you Pride. You made me blush and you tickle my insides when you grace me with your presence.
Sometimes though... sometimes dear Pride, you go too far.
Maybe from your own fear of Shame coming along and stealing your thunder.
Maybe you get high on yourself a bit.... know what I mean?
Maybe it's so intoxicating so you hide some of that authentic pride with a capital P PRIDE.
Or maybe you enjoy it a tad too much and invite infamous miss Ego over?
(Asking for a friend.)
But when you are gentle in your presence - you SHINE dear Pride.
You remind lil' old me not to be so darn hard on myself and let in some caring patting on my back. It feels good to rub that back. After all... the knots in it thanks to Doubt and Fear and Pressure and so many others... those knots hurt.
Your presence lightens their toll, Pride.
Grateful for you, but don't get over excited... okay?
Let Humility come along with you.
Together - you two are the golden ticket.
Boy, it's been a while, hasn't it?
Here I was thinking you were gone for good... silly me... but you were only napping in the background of my mind, awaiting your turn to wake up with a vengeance.
It's been so long that frankly I forgot what it felt like to be in your presence.
Or more like, my mind forgot about you. But the body? The body always remembers.
My body recognized when my feet tensed up, my head duck low, my shoulders tightened, my lips squeezed and my breath shortened. Those are all signs of your presence. The body knew and greeted you instantly. Not that it had any other choice...
Honestly, I didn't miss you, Self-Doubt.
No offense, but I find you pretty hard to shake off of me.
You are so convicted in your claims and so convincing and justified - that you push any inch of confidence away from me when you show up.
No, I didn't miss your volatile nature, your all encompassing hold on me, the memory of when I used to be with you 24/7 as a child in elementary school.
I bet you thought you helped me then. But newsflash: you never did.
In fact, still today you are not very helpful.
Aside from motivating me to work harder than I think I have to... you have no purpose whatsoever. You exist just to mess with my mind, huh? Just to chop at my heart a little? Or bother my body? You are quite irritating to be around and you love to make me age regress and throw tantrums, don't you?
I don't mean to offend you Self-Doubt - mainly because I don't want you to come back with vengeance - but YOU SUCK.
You, like, really really really suck.
Why don't you find another sucker to hang out with?
Just leave me be with Miss Confidence already.
Unlike you, SHE got my back.
Do you sometimes feel overlooked? Unseen? forgotten?
I bet you do.
You often wait patiently as Fear, Doubt and Insecurity take the stage.
They are louder than you, yes, and they make their splash when they show up. They instantly get noticed by me. And then... you are often small, mute, tucked in your corner... but nonetheless - there's something about you that stands out:
You, dear Courage, are constant in your presence.
You are always there, inside. Waiting for the right moment to show up.
I want to ask you to not wait so long! I want to ask you to show up even when you are not invited! I want to tell you you can overtake Fear, Doubt and Insecurity in a millisecond with your glowing presence!
But I don't ask. And I don't tell.
I know better. I know you have something to teach me with your absence.
Perhaps I learn to appreciate you more... Perhaps you are priming me, preparing me for your arrival... Perhaps you are simply a bit of a tease. But whatever lesson it is, it's a good one coming from you.
Dear Courage, the times when you come close to me, when you built yourself up to be SEEN, to be GIANT in your presence, to be the ruler of my world... those are the times when everything clicks. Those are the most precious times. You bring Flow along with you and the three of us go on magical adventures together. Explore worlds, land opportunities and climb new mountains. And with you - it feels so... easy. It is easy. It's all easy, with you.
Thank you Courage.
I love you.
Until the next time I swim in your ocean,
In April 2020, while experiencing her first ever global pandemic, Tamar Pelzig pledged to write something every day, even if it's only a word, so she welcomed to the world a daily blog to keep her creative writing wheels rolling.
Header Art: Daniel Landerman