A Transatlantic Exchange About Beauty, Worth, and Vulnerability

Bear with me.  This may become a bumpy and convoluted dirt track through high mountains–more suited to nimble-minded things than my plodding thought process.  I have much food for thought on the subjects of love, self-love, self-esteem, and writing.  Some of what follows is taken from a pair of e-mails between myself and one of my oldest friends–no really, she’s pushing 80 and still manages to hop-scotch from Brazil to France more often than I go to the local farm stand.  I’ll set our conversation in big quotes for you.

There is a young man.  Not a lover, perhaps never that.  But I feel as if we had grown somehow close.  I think it’s a gift he has, a talent for people.  I know it frustrates him when he thinks I speak down to myself.  He shares so little of what actually goes on in his head, I can only guess.

I have a habit for loving the wrong men, for falling hopelessly in love with the unavailable or the uncomfortable.  I think this would be no different.  It is also, I think, an excellent thing that he and I will never again live in the same city.  I’ve moved away from Albuquerque.  I cannot allow my fertile, fervid imagination people my loneliness with fantasies of this man–that’s wrong.  If I want to claim that feeling, it has to be for who he really is, not who my desire would make him.  What harm could it do? I think it might just distract me from seeing the real thing if it crossed my path.  To give my heart to someone who doesn’t care for me and would never dream of leading me on like that–you can call it generosity if you like, I just call it foolish.

My dear, Impertinence is the native tongue of the very young and the exquisitely aged.  It is called Innocence in the former, rooted out by those who are divorced from their sense of wonder, who feel it their practical duty to destroy that state of being in others.  In the latter, it is called wisdom and tolerated–barely.  The only wisdom I’ve ever seen it to be is that we give ourselves permission to say what we really think without fear.  You have sold yourself short as long as I  have known you.  You are more than a match for any man or woman you choose.  Don’t let yourself be brought down to the level of those who cannot see.  You do yourself an injustice.

I think it’s important, not to meditate on my little issue with infatuation, but what the young man has brought to point in my life.  He is a messenger and a friend who has pointed up that I “badmouth” myself.  I talk negatively about myself, discount any talent, any intelligence, any loveliness.  It’s a self-defense mechanism.  He isn’t the first, but he’s so rarely objected to anything I say in general correspondence, that when he made a point to do so with this, I had to take notice.  I think–I want to be sure–that I’m ready to start casting aside my armor.  Not just removing it and holding onto it, just in case.  But really being done with it.

Yeah, it’s pretty much a guarantee that life and circumstance will cause me pain–that’s what they do.  It’s kind of their job, from the human perspective.  But I have to try.  I have to stop trying to be impervious, because I’m driving away what’s good with my speech, my attitude.  I don’t think I’ve ever done anything more difficult in my life, oddly enough.  It’s been a long time coming, this.  Big things usually are, for me.  I’ll keep you apprised.


3 thoughts on “A Transatlantic Exchange About Beauty, Worth, and Vulnerability

  1. There are many kinds of courage, but by far the one that demands the most of us it looking in the mirror honestly and taking on the responsibility for healing a damaged part of ourselves. It requires forgiveness, an unwillingness to take the easy path, and patience almost unlike any other in life. Opening oneself, putting away the armor is enormously difficult. It’s done in private, and we can keep our secrets from ourselves, if we choose. I admire you, and mostly because I’ve tried and failed often enough to know what it takes. Quitting smoking is a piece of cake by comparison. 🙂

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