I have a habit — I suspect I am far from the only person with this habit — of writing letters or emails or texts to friends and then never sending them. Sometimes I delete them, but often I save them in my Drafts folder, or somewhere on my laptop, for some unknown reason – just in case I get brave or stupid and decide to send them? Or maybe just to torture myself.
Letters or emails or texts that are full of the desperation, or fear, or anger that is tormenting me at that moment. Confessions of guilt (such as the Letter to E I posted on this blog a couple weeks ago). Rants and ravings that make little sense (often written at 2 or 3 in the morning when I haven’t slept in several days and everything is hateful and hopeless). Maudlin, angsty, whiny things that fill me with embarrassment, but also grief.
The letter “Dear E–” that I posted a couple weeks ago was a very long text message I wrote and then nearly deleted, pasting it into my Notes app instead, but never sending it. It was not edited or changed in anyway. The letter below is the content of an email I wrote to my best friend a couple years ago, and then saved in my Drafts folder without ever sending it. I deleted only a couple sentences with identifying information. Everything else is exactly as I originally wrote it (gratuitous use of ALL CAPS included).
Dear J —
Do you ever feel like you’re drifting along with a million half-formed ideas ricocheting in your brain like a million crazy atoms ready to go nuclear-fission on you? Like you KNOW somewhere in there is some brilliant idea – some fantastic poem or short story or theory or insight, some great epiphany that is just waiting to coalesce in your head and if you could just get everything to STAY STILL long enough you could pick it out with tweezers and show the world, show God, show YOURSELF that for once you actually KNOW something, you actually KNOW what the HELL you’re talking about and everything that’s happened – all the craziness and uncertainty and sleepless nights and silent-internal-screaming – would all be WORTH it?
I read something or I just sit and look at the water or the sky and feel something just on the edge of consciousness waiting, taunting me. Something I cannot begin to articulate or even understand. Something telling me I should be doing something. Something other than THIS. Or maybe THIS, but better than I’ve been managing to do it. Like I’m missing some vital piece of information, or some vital piece of life, or more likely some vital piece of MYSELF that I simply cannot see or find. There just out of reach. I guess really I just feeling like I’m missing SOMETHING – like there’s a puzzle piece (or two or three) that got lost somewhere and I have these odd, jigsaw shaped holes in my chest waiting to be filled by something that’s never going to show up, or I’m never going to be able to go out and find.
Why is it that everyone around me can be so brilliant and so sure of themselves and so content in what they’re doing and who they are? And I can barely keep myself going from day to day, and all I do is second and third guess myself and I feel like I’m not who I’m supposed to be? And why is it the more I question my faith, more I lose my sense of God, or at least a merciful God, the more I find myself examining the expressions of faith and doubt in others – in every poet and author and critic I read – as if I’m expecting to find the answer there, as if I’m expecting someone to tell me this is natural or unnatural and this is what I need to do to fix it. Is it just inevitable the more intellectual you are, the more you study and examine and question, the more natural it is to lose any sense of God as a reality? All I can see are people – people who do stupid cruel things, people who twist every admirable thought into something they can use against others, people who live weighed down in chains they don’t even know they have.