Open letter to HB/Be Still and Know


Dear Hannah Brencher,

I’m opening this two days later and you’ve got my writing brain firing and I have to say: shave off ten years give or take, get a bit of sun, and convert to Islam and we’re basically the same person. And, apologies in advance for the soppy story. I’m gambling on the hope that we never meet in person so we don’t have to make small talk when you already know all this, and on the hope that you’re not actually an evil person who will post all this on instagram and tag me.

When faced with the decision whether or not to take a gap year between my first and second years of Agnes Scott (the answer was yes), it suddenly occurred to me, this feeling that deep down there was a quiet voice that knew exactly what to do. It’s hard to describe. At some point, I realized, oh, all these questions I fret over constantly, every day?–Who am I? What do I want to do? Am I really a total failure? What do I really believe in? Will I ever get a job? Will I ever not be depressed and suicidal? What do I do?– they all have definite answers. Respectively: a writer. Write. No. Love. Yes. Yes. Be still. I know and have always known deep down that there are definite, if not unchanging, answers. The only things keeping me from lunging deep into the freedom of knowing is the fear and the thinking, thinking, thinking.

I told my mom about the voice that knew exactly what to do, but my words failed me and it came out more like, “you don’t understand! Like, er, ah, a voice, I mean, it’s hard to explain, I know it sounds crazy, but I know exactly what to do…aeiaubdhljzdcxkjabegiu…”

In typical mom fashion, she simply said, “Of COURSE there’s a voice that knows exactly what to do. But you’ve got it all wrong. That’s not you. That’s God.”

Be still and know that I am God, right?

And oh hb, you are so right that forgiveness and love and hope are like sunscreen! I was writing something similar in my journal this afternoon about how epiphanies never last as long as we wish they would. At 17, I’m still learning about the world and it seems like Allah’s working to drill the same epiphanies into my stubborn head every day. “Oh Maya, life would be so much easier if…” It’s so much easier not to listen.

I have an old house too, not built from anger, though that is certainly part of it. I haven’t quite gathered up the courage to pack up my belongings and leave yet, and I still spend more time there than outside, free. I’m not quite sure how I got here. The door to the outside is unlocked – all it would take is a light push. When I am still, the resources set out by God and my therapist (who make an awesome team!) are right there guiding me to the light.

Only, I’ve got some sort of Stockholm’s, obviously. I mean, imagine living your life knowing that no matter what happens, there’s always death. It takes away all the uncertainty, you know?

So sometimes I conveniently forget that I even had a choice to walk out of the house in the first place. I blame chemicals, childhood trauma, anything. Or else I shame myself for choosing to stay in the house, burying myself deeper.

There’s certain things that jolt me into seeing that unlocked door clearly, if only until the sunscreen dries. Recently, it was the realization that I turn 18 in 12 days and then only I will be responsible for me. And then it was your email. So, thank you. I’m so glad I subscribed. You are a kindred soul, HB.

Tied closer than most,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *