dear 16-year old jess,
that’s what you like being called. jessica gets caught on the tongue. too many syllables. jess is familiar. people who know you call you Jess.
i’m not sure how much time passes to mark the transition. but people shift from saying “Jessica” to “Jess.” that marks your people.
you’re in the midst of discovering who you are. rushing through life. anticipating what’s next.
slow down, oh my sweet soul.
it happens fast. prom. graduation. getting your first and second… and third speeding ticket.
[by the way, you think those mark the end of the world. trust me, dad won’t actually kill you. the time you almost go to jail is worse.] keep reading…
In the midst of my divorce, and for the many months following, I had a slew of people who didn’t know what to say or do. for many, I was the first person they knew, up-close-and-personal, to walk this wobbly path. There is no rule book, no manual for what to do when your friend experiences this strange and devastating loss.
The following are REAL things people said to me. Most are well-intentioned. Many, I’m guilty of speaking over people. and hear me when i say that there is so much grace if you’ve said them, too.
we so badly want make sure we say something even if it isn’t exactly right for the situation. We long make others’ pain more palatable. the silence scares us. but The words we offer often make US feel better, and leave a wake of pain and devastation.
Here are 8 things NOT to say to someone going through a divorce or break-up:
hi. my name is jess.
i’m a word lover.
my heart revolves around linking consonants and vowels. sewing sounds and ideas. sketching a graceful flourish or a unique letterform. hunting for the perfect metaphor or a peculiar adjective. playing with texture and hues and technique.
for as long as i can remember i’ve loved to create—draw and paint. design t-shirts and posters. dabble with photoshop and indesign. craft stories and poems. act and dance.
yet somewhere along the way, i let the enemy of creativity whisper lies of inadequacy, inability, and fear deep into my soul. convincing me i’m not good enough, talented enough, worthy enough, interesting enough, original enough for anyone to pay attention.
so i put down my pen, pencil, and keyboard and stopped creating.
then, in 2015, my whole life was turned on its head. a year of loss. confusion. fear. anxiety. loneliness. uncertainty.
and in the midst, i learned the trick to surviving a difficult season: keep reading…