Dear Self.

It’s no wonder you’ve waited every year for birthday magic to appear. When the sky lights up the night before, fireworks soaring over the horizon, it’s no surprise your heart beats with expectation, you dare to hope for a little wonder in the morning.

Year after year, the clock ticks in its own strange rhythm. Perfectly on time, but imperfectly cadenced. A syncopation that never quite lands on the beat. You turn another page, another year older.

In November every year, you give thanks and then count down til Christmas and the New Year – always wondering, hoping, praying that this year will be better than the last. In the coming year, you might be more yourself, find the peace that eludes you, the love you long for.

As if life is a jigsaw puzzle you’re stuck on, that you cannot complete without the final pieces – you’re hoping each year to find the cornerstones that will help it all make sense. Every year around November, when the change and the countdown to another chance at your 12 months begins – you consider yourself once more.

Self, you are more of you than you were 12 months ago.

When this year broke into dawn, you were still thinking of yourself as Incomplete but now you know you’re just Unfinished. There is more to come. There are many more ‘and thens’ to follow and you are unafraid. No longer trapped in fear of ‘The End’, you know there will always be an ‘And Then’.

You are embracing and becoming your True Self – learning to speak what you want and believe out loud. You could probably do with a lesson or two in not letting all those desires and emotions walk across your face. They walk like a herd of elephants, unstoppable. But your heart on your sleeve has felt like finally being able to breathe instead of forcing a poker face when you want to cry.

You read an article on the train that said it showed greater strength of character to cry than it did to merely comply with misery and the words felt like rain on parched earth. For the first time you felt no shame at having a feeling. When every tear you’ve cried in every year past has felt like the mark of failure, this year’s tears have been the current pulling you towards hope.

Earlier, you felt adrift – cast off from shore by trusted confidantes. This year, you’ve known betrayal and abandonment that echoed the fear you knew as a child but you stand, stronger because you realise the power of knowing.

Woman, unfinished but not incomplete – in knowing what is true and what is not you are able to embrace yourself and unshackle yourself from the burdens that anchored you to shore in unsafe harbours.

Adrift on the ocean is only a place for fear if you do not trust the wind and the wave.
Breathe deep. Go to the top of your mountain and watch the sun and the sea. Breathe.
Go and bathe in the river, until you emerge baptised again in Self and Spirit. 

Be one with the land of your birth, the sea and the sky and you will learn you have nothing to fear from the wind or the wave.

This time last year, you counted some as friends that you no longer rely on. The unimaginable grief you have weathered with so few words. To imagine again what is lost to you, yet you carry on to smile for those who show no sign of understanding how they have wounded you. You have learned to not hold tightly by letting go.

You have learned again, the wonder and power of your own voice. That voice that never faltered in confidence when you were young. It only shook as you grew older and realised the great weight of air you had to project your own words through. You have learned that even when voiceless you found the courage to speak and therefore now, grown and strong – I’m begging you to just open your lips; the stamina and strength of your early defeat will carry you to triumph.

Not a triumph of acclaim, but a quiet inner conquering – to know that the False Self – so frail, insecure, afraid, stoic but also undone is now buried in the dust and dirt of the Valley. Only the True Self remains.

You learned there were some secrets for keeping and you buried them in a field; where only treasure-seekers will find them.

In the morning, remember that you are free from the shackles of pre-defined identity even though you remember the weight of the chains on your hands and feet.

You grieved your unborn children and your unknown lovers. Walked through failing at the tests you ought to have sailed past and continued walking. Head held high and making eye contact, stripping shame of its power in each step. You reconciled the more you grow in wisdom; the quicker you find your loneliness. But that is a comforting thought, because the truth you have always longed for is more evident now than ever. Your compass points true North.

You chased hope, lost it and kept walking anyway. You have wandered down the dark alleys and enjoyed the danger there.

You are more remarkable than anyone knows – precisely because of how much you let them see, when there is still an ocean beneath the surface of the sea.

In the dark and the secret, you have let others rest in your comfort, you have laughed and let others feel powerful in your weakness. You have shared vulnerability – you are gloriously wretched and righteous in perfect paradox.

The fireworks are slowing down. The night is about to reach into tomorrow. Remarkable woman, you are not a year older tomorrow, you are a year closer.

A year closer to a good death, preceded by an above-average life. The sum of day; not the minutes or the billable hours but the vast expanse of your ideas; a word spoken here and there. A year closer to finished, whatever that looks like. Another year of self-discovery and generosity to come. You are not undone or incomplete: despite the creases, wrinkles and the age of you.

You are Unfinished because you know what you do not know. Some of us are Done and still Incomplete; they have ceased to grow but you know, that roots must push out until they find water. A woman must turn herself to the sun if she longs for the light. She must find water when thirsty. She must go to the mountain-top and bury what is finished in the dust of the valley.

Tomorrow, you will not wake in the arms of a lover or be wrapped in magic as the movies tell it. Bouquets of flowers will not appear but small and beautiful encounters will be treasured as they unfold. As any day begins unfinished, you will begin again. The magic will be in you, even if you are the only one who knows. You will wake baptised again.

Not another year older, but another year closer. To the woman unfinished, there is more to come.