Dear Jo,

You wrote me in November 2021, back when I thought my post office box had been closed (turns out the lock was just sticky).  So I just got your letter today.  Nice to make your acquaintance, and… oops.  I hope you got through the holidays okay.

You opened it it thus:

“Can you stand another ‘I loved your book and it’s helping me feel better and less lonely’ note?  I hope so, because here it is.”

Oh, gosh, I guess I can, if I must.  It’s a tough row to hoe, being so eloquently appreciated, but I’ll do my best.

No, seriously, thank you.  Authors don’t get as many of these types of letters as people assume we do.  Especially not handwritten ones.  Every one I get, I treasure, even though I didn’t manage to respond to most of them over the past two or three years.  I’m going to try to be better about that in the future.

In your case, tragically, the post office stamped the outgoing envelope in such a way that I can’t read your return address.  I really wanted to write back to you, and I even have stationery ordered and on the way due to a resurgence of my interest in paper correspondence!

So I’ll reach out to you here, and really hope you see it.  I’m so glad you never gave up on making something out of your life; so many people do, and they miss out on so much.  I hope that all the work you’re doing right now, all your persistence, pays off more than you could ever have hoped.  What kind of degree are you shooting for?  I’m genuinely impressed.  I hope Millie lives to be your age, and I hope she does as well for herself as you seem to be doing.  Seriously, do you know how amazing you are?  I’ll bet you don’t hear it as often as you should.

What I like best in your letter, I think, is that you said Borderline helped you take yourself less seriously.  That sounds trivial, but it really, really isn’t.  I think you understand exactly what I mean.  It can be so easy for those with mental health struggles to let their pain define them, to wrap their identity up in a diagnosis.  To focus on the difficulty rather than the rewards.  It’s so important, and helps so much, to be able to laugh at the absurdity of your brain when it does stupid stuff to you.

You said that my book touched you, and I hope that it touched you half as much as your letter did me.  Feel free to pass along your address to me at my Mailbook in a more readable form.  If you do that, I’ll write you a real letter as soon as I get my new shipment of stationery.

But the next time you take a moment to appreciate someone who’s done something to help you through life – would you do me a favor and check the mirror?  Look at the life you’ve built for yourself.  How long you’ve kept at it, kept learning and using coping strategies, kept making things incrementally better, kept striving, even though you got dealt life on Hard Mode.  Don’t ever let anyone minimize what you’ve achieved.

Can you stand hearing that?  I hope so, because there it is.

Love,

Mishell

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