Note: This is my postcard reply to Helena. To read Helena’s postcard to me, please go here.
My dear Helena,
It is so good to hear from you.
I am going to start by saying – Don’t listen to your fears. They lie.
Fears tell us we can’t when we really can. They are really skilled at derailing us.
Helena, you have written cookbooks, and volumes of poetry. Not to mention – you’ve published Memoirs of a Dilettante Volume One, and are currently preparing Volume Two for publication. How amazingly accomplished is that?!
You have always dabbled in whatever you can get your hands into just to say that you have. Whether you realise it or not, this requires a great deal of courage. What’s more – you have always been honest. Because not everything that you have dabbled in gave you joy or satisfaction. Some even burnt you. But you always value the lessons learnt. Nothing ever goes to waste with you – not experiences in life, and especially, not people. Because you have always held a high regard of real friendships. One thing for sure – you did not give up on me. Even when I was such a hopeless case. This says a great deal about you than about me. It reveals your beautiful gracious heart.
I believe, this is what your man sees in you – among other things, of course. He is not naïve. He knows that a great woman is not perfect, but recognises the one who is perfect for him. And it is you. Believe it or not, he is happy when he is with you.
As you rightly wrote, fear is a dirty four letter word. It screws us up from the inside out.
I know this only too well. Fear had ruled over my life for the longest time, because I allowed it.
In the past, I was afraid of people finding out how utterly boring and hollow the real me was. Especially you. Hence, I played games, pretended to be mysterious and kept everyone at a distance. As far as I was concerned, I was the most un-accomplished person in the world. I had nothing valuable to offer to anyone. So, I did not want to be found out.
For the record, you were never disposable. Not in the least.
In truth, I did not throw you away. I only threw myself away.
I did not realize that when I chose to stay afraid, I drove away everyone who genuinely cared about me. Including you. As a result, fear became my one and only companion. It was a terribly lonely way to live. I can say that now. Yet in all that time, I thought I was protecting myself – my fragile little heart. I was frightened of getting hurt if I had opened up my heart to anyone. But in the end, I was the one who lost everything.
It took me a long time to dig my way out of the abyss. It was not easy. I had to come undone and be totally honest with myself – no matter how ugly it got. Facing my fears demanded that I own up to my insecurities and flaws. It was hard not to judge when I looked at myself in all that starkness. It was hard not to feel angry and bitter at the person I was. What made it slightly bearable was remedying all the mistakes I had made. Thus, I reached out to those I have hurt and apologised to them. Over and over again, until their pain was healed.
Seeking forgiveness from others was not easy, but forgiving myself was the hardest.
To this day, I do not think that I would be able to fully reconcile my past with my present. But I do know that my future would be very different, because I am making very different choices now. These days when I look into the mirror, I see less of my monstrous self. I am learning how to appreciate the good things I can do and give to those around me. I am no longer terrified about people finding out the truth about me – be it that I am riddled with flaws, or that my past looks like a dummies’ guidebook to sin and debauchery.
That said, there will always be a few people who are still stuck with the idea of the “old Maya”. That is perfectly understandable. Some people need more time than others to believe that I have changed. However, there are many others who are giving this “new Maya” a chance. Like your generous self. So, I am very grateful for this and more. It teaches me to be more merciful towards myself in return.
It is human to feel afraid. However, staying afraid is a choice.
So, don’t allow your fears to cast doubts in your new-found love when there is none to be had. Most of all, don’t give fear any power to stop you from experiencing the happiness that is yours.
If I have to spell it out for you, and I will – you are happy when you are with him. This is why you are this anxious, and have written me a mini “novel”.
I have only seen you like this when you really care for someone. So, please – just be happy that your bad luck with love has ended, and enjoy your happiness.
We all deserve to enjoy our happiness.
Photo Credit: The famed Kuala Lumpur Twin Towers by Jason Tan