Those so-called wasted years cleared you a path to magic.
Beautiful response. Thank you for helping me feel my humanity again. Everyone is judging based on outward appearances. We do not know the internal reality of others. Heather, I hope you continue your journey of loving yourself. I am 73 years old and am still learning more about me. More humiliation when I thought I was finished. It is all good.
You just blew me away, Heather!
I leave you with your own words, woman:
"JOY, MOTHERFUCKER. The joy of truly being here on this doomed planet, all cells wide awake, for once in your life. The thrill and the raw charge of refusing to hide. The enormous, deep deep deep happiness – an ocean of satisfaction! – that comes from understanding who you are JUST ENOUGH to replace your Fuck Off Face with an I’m Still Here and I Feel Pretty Goddamn Good Face."
Wow! I almost had to check to see if I'd written this letter in a fugue state, LW. Exact situation with my mother, except that I wasn't successful at getting her out of my life, and I married a man who turned out to be exactly like her. Twenty-five years later, when I finally woke up and left, I was pretty broken. And I was not amused to find that all my problems didn't disappear with him. Once I started to do the work (yeah, therapy is work, and it can be brutal), I was pissed off to learn that I wouldn't just find the answers and be "done". But it is so worth it. Because as Polly summed up so beautifully, JOY, MOTHERFUCKER. This is something that I now feel on the regular. I actually SMILE at myself in the mirror. And I no longer feel any of my time was wasted as all of the pain and upheaval wouldn't have led me to the life I have today. I'm 65 and overflowing with gratitude for my fabulous self and my freedom to enjoy the life I've rebuilt.
Everything about this is so beautiful and true. I'm in the UK, as it happens, and not so long ago I was taking a train to a coastal city and sat next to a woman in her 70s who had just been to her first music festival since having a leg removed. She happily recounted her ridiculous love life (we had some types in common!) She pointed out local landmarks I would have missed. We had a great time. People just don't go through life in a neat orderly line like they're "supposed" to. The truth is always far, far more interesting.
And you know, as a Brit, that shameless older women with a story to tell are a national goddamn treasure. I hope you can work through the shame to find the real story you can be proud of, I hope I find myself next to you on a train to the beach when that happens.
I read the headline and the one-sentence answer, about “a path to magic.” Reading just those words gave me a push to search for a writing workshop. I am 69 and I have never felt able to tell my story. It’s time to try. Thank you both letter-writer and HH.
This one made me cry and cry and cry. Several times, but no part more so than the ending. I am so grateful for these letters being up on this platform where I can see the comments from you other lovely readers and read your responses and remember that, just like she says, we're not alone, we're not alone, we're not alone xxxx
Stunning letter, wonderful response, beautiful comments.
Didn't Jung say you could only buy a ticket for the 'being who you really are boat' from mid-life onwards? I'm in my late 40s and it's only now that the weight of parental expectations, ingrained people pleasing, internalised need to be pretty are lifting enough to really start to understand what it means to be me. You could be right on schedule, LW!
Gorgeous, gorgeous essay. I started on this path in earnest 2+ years ago and turn 50 this year. It's all true. Hardest work I've ever done and the lightest and truest I've ever felt - even when it's dark - and the best is yet to come. BE BRAVE "I'm 60"! We're with you.
I’m turning 59 in three weeks, and I can think back to years that were a Wasteland; my 40s in particular were pretty grim. I so strongly Agree that humiliation and shame are feelings that must be endured and truly felt to get To that tender vulnerable place, and that while feeling humiliation is one thing, blaming yourself, Holding yourself responsible is utterly profoundly pointless. I feel so strongly for what you’ve been going through, And believe that you are going to reach the other side of this. Polly’s advice is absolutely spot on. You just have to keep working at it, and there’s no question that it is very hard work, but so worth it in the end.
At 65, after 40-odd years of frustration and limitation, I feel I'm heading into the best time of my life.
This lady says she has a fuck off face, but she doesn't have a fuck off soul. Her soul is like my soul, and I wish I could put my arm around her.
This may be an urban myth, but apparently when Benjamin Franklin was asked at 80 why he played violin so well, he said it was because he started learning at 60 and now has 20 years' experience. As my mother said - yes, well, Benjamin Franklin was weird. So the secret to your life being full and happy at any age is to be weird. Here endeth the lesson - from me and my weird mother.
"The work of becoming yourself never ends, no matter how happy or sad you are." Genius.
I am half the age of the LW, but it spoke to me as well! I am crying right now... simply, breathtakingly beautiful!
As I become more wise (and sometimes jaded), I've been drawn more and more to the notion of magic. I have a magnet on my bulletin board that says it and I recently got a keychain that says - I've Got The Magic In Me. However, I couldn't really explain why or where it came from. Then I read this in the piece you shared today and it all fell into place:
"Why?!!! Why peach, from a broken soldier? Why lavender, from a broken man?
MAGIC, MOTHERFUCKER. That’s what the broken own. We own magic. It’s our job to work hard enough at everything so we can get to that magic. It’s our job to feel our sharp pangs of hunger for everything, every day, so we can feel that magic. It’s our job to feel as much as we can, even when it fucking hurts and humiliates us, so we can create magic in our connections to other people. It’s our job to dig for passion, to dig for more love, to dig for new discoveries. We were designed to keep digging. We were designed to say NO to tepid bitches who don’t have enough love to offer us. We were designed to set our sights on beauty, and light, and passion."
I felt this deep and adored your response to LW, tears and so much gratitude for the way you weave feelings & words and make magic Heather.