Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Dear Jewel

Dear Jewel,

I am one of those people who has a virtual jukebox living inside her head. Your song, "Hands" often gets stuck on repeat, but specifically the part where you say, "In the end, only kindness matters." You wrote these words long before the advent of Genius, in the infancy of the internet, where I would finally find the rest of your brilliant words.

For so long, you see, I have been able to let go of so much, in the interest of kindness. Or so I thought. Unknowingly, due to not one, but two near death experiences (one because of an accident, and another during childbirth), I would see that we are all part of something larger, I would take on a philosophy that would constantly threaten to be my undoing. Seeing that the end is not something to fear, and that we all go back to where we began, I realized that your words are true - "In the end, only kindness matters."

So, I walked through life, trying to be the sweetest version of myself to other people. When they were hurtful to me, I would swallow it down. I thought I was letting go - I really did. But I wasn't.

I dedicated myself to a life of service to others. At one point, when I was still on Facebook, my place of employment simply stated "Wherever I am needed." I focused on empathic communication. Rarely did I receive the empathy I needed, though, and for so long, I have taken on the pain of others, mindless of what it was doing to me.

How I wish I had paid attention to the rest of the song.

"My hands are small, I know
But they're not yours, they are my own
But they're not yours, they are my own
And I am never broken." - Jewel

I know now that I had a disordered relationship with both kindness and letting go. I have, in trying to do the work of God/the Universe, in spreading kindness, not accepted my own humanity. I have not extended the kindness to myself. I have held myself to standards much too high for a mere mortal. Amy, you are human. You are enough. You are never broken.

In the interest of kindness, I would attempt to "let go" of some pretty hurtful things. I ended up in a lot of one way friendships which kept me from enjoying many of the better relationships in my life, and also stole energy from me that would have been put to better use on my children, who really needed me. What do I mean by "one-way friendships?" I mean those friendships where I would be there for someone in their darkest hour - bending over backward to help - when not only would that energy be lost for the time being, when I needed reciprocation, the person was nowhere to be found. In an effort to build trust, I would be vulnerable with people who never had any intention of loving me in return. Sometimes they would even use my vulnerability against me, or when I would try to advocate for myself in the relationship or clear the air, they would ignore me or even use my words against me. Yet, I would forgive them and welcome them right back when they were in a time of need.

"I won't be made useless
I won't be idle with despair
I will gather myself around my faith
For light does the darkness most fear." - Jewel

The message I internalized through all these toxic relationships was that I was not worthy of love. I felt useless. I wasn't just idle with despair, I was swallowed by it. Swallowed. Had I listened to this stanza, however, I would have seen what I needed to see. I would have been more diligent about seeking out the light. I would have worked harder to cultivate it within myself. This is my responsibility. It is the responsibility we all have. It is, in familiarizing ourselves with this light, that we can see and let go of toxicity, and limit its effects on us.

I had an experience quite a few years ago where I was helping a family member who ended up in very serious trouble because she had this same mentality, cultivated through an immature relationship with religion and authority. How many women get in trouble by thinking they can "save" individuals who have been swallowed by darkness? A lot, I think. We are not taught how to take care of ourselves, we are only taught how to take care of others. It became clear to me that if I didn't remove myself from the relationship, danger might come to my family. But another family member, not knowing the seriousness of the situation assumed that I was "One of those people who give up on people when they make just one mistake." No, not at all. Quite the opposite. I now joke that it's more like "Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me, fool me thrice, shame on me, fool me four times, shame on me, fool me five times, shame on me... fool me eight times, okay. Fine. F&#k you."

I don't have time or energy for these kinds of relationships. I don't have time for lack of reciprocity. It is my duty to take care of myself, to cultivate my inner light, so I can do what I am here to do, which is to amplify love, not waste it.

Jewel, thanks for letting me see how to do that:

"Poverty stole your golden shoes
It didn't steal your laughter
And heartache came to visit me
But I knew it wasn't ever after
We'll fight, not out of spite
For someone must stand up for what's right
Cause where there's a man who has no voice
There ours shall go singing." - Jewel

The universe has put me in a position of having a lot of time and head space. I am not going to use this gift to help people who are capable of helping themselves. I am going to use it to help people who, despite having a tough road to bear, are constantly working to better themselves, to cultivate their inner light, to cultivate their laughter. I will sing for the people who have no voice, and stop giving pieces of myself to people who simply could care less, or feel entitled to my love.

I have to love myself, be kind to myself, and let go of toxic one-way relationships, so I am not inadvertently feeding the darkness in the world.

I have to let go, appropriately, to cultivate my light.

"In the end, only kindness matters." Yes, it's true. But first and foremost, we need to be kind to ourselves, and only then can we see what needs to be let go.

Thank you, Jewel, for using your voice to help me see how to help myself and others.

With gratitude for your gift,


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