Earlier this week, I was 18 again. Someone posted a photo of me circa 1986. At first, I laughed about the photos, but quickly my laughter turned dark.
I saw myself as I’d never seen myself before. I try not to look at photos of myself from those years. When I do, I see someone who is furious and alone. I see someone who is sometimes mean to people because she hates herself so very much. I see someone who feels a lot of shame. I see someone who is frightened. I see someone who is lost.
For a variety of reasons, I was lost and I was alone. I was lost and I was alone and I was sixty pounds heavier than I am now and I wore a lot of makeup and I had terrible hair and I drank a lot and I used drugs and ate food that was bad for me and I hated myself and I did not in any way believe that any of the dreams I had for myself were ever, ever achievable.
When I saw those pictures, I was right back in the moment of feeling trapped within my body and my skin and my mind. I was right back to feeling hopeless. I was right back to not understanding why life is worth living.
In the 26 years since those photos were taken, I’ve found a voice within myself that will not let me be broken in the same way that I was then. The voice was always there inside me, waiting to come out and rescue me from myself. And so to be reminded of what I was and what wasn’t at 18 can only momentarily break me and those dreams I didn’t believe would ever come true in 1986, are all happening now, mostly because I opened myself and let people guide me and accepted help when it was offered to me, and mostly let myself believe I was worthy of being loved. I am.
As for help and gratitude, I offer my thanks to Patricia Henley, a writing warrior who is beautiful in every way. This week, I was blown away and deeply moved to read Patricia thoughts on Echolocation. Here is just a smidge:
The language and lyricism of Myfanwy Collins’ prose never takes over; it reveals her tenderness toward the characters and the land. She is skilled at the puzzle of plot; she is skilled at poetry. This novel is a fine debut, portending more to come.
To have a writer I admire so much say such loving things about my work is an enormous gift. Thank you, Patricia! And thank you also to Ron Slate for his wonderful blog: On the Seawall.
My thanks also to Sharon Shaloo, executive director of the Massachusetts Center for the Book. I was fortunate to meet Sharon at AWP in Chicago, early in March. Today, she hosted me as a guest on her First Fridays webinar with the MLS. It was my first-ever webinar and a whole lot of fun. Sharon runs things beautifully and is a passionate advocate for the book and I truly appreciate her support. Thank you, Sharon! Thank you also to Scott Kehoe who is the technical wizard at the MLS.
On Tuesday, I’m dragging my husband to see The Avett Brothers with me. I have big time love for them and can’t believe I get to see them live. I know it’s going to be a great show.
The week after next is going to be a crazy flurry of activity, kicking off with old-home week, when I travel up to read at my undergrad alma mater, SUNY Plattsburgh. More on this later!
As always, thank you for reading.