The Unwelcome Visitor

I’ve been visited by an unwelcome visitor. This visitor comes bearing a gift that I do not usually care for, but it’s a gift nonetheless.

Today she arrives as a piercing jealousy, a self-doubt, a pang of unworthiness. I feel the familiar sensation of her arrival on my doorstep: the queasy stomach, the clenched jaw, the heavy eyelids, the tone of impatience. 

What to do when she arrives? I could get really quiet, hide in a back room, and pretend like I’m not home. I could build a wall of defense and refuse her entry. Or, I could open my heart to her fully, knowing her stay is temporary. 

What will she do if I do let her in? She might be a wrecking ball come to thrash through the beautiful sacred space I’ve worked so hard to cultivate. She may take up residence as an unwelcome squatter, refusing to leave my personal sanctuary. She may offer to help me clean house, taking away all the old items I’ve been holding onto knowing I should just part with. Or, she might offer me some brilliant words of wisdom and then be on her way. 

How will I ever know if I shut her out? 

So I surrender. I let her in. I open myself fully to whatever might conspire, knowing with my whole heart that I may have a colossal price to pay by doing so. 

Usually turned away at the door, she is surprised by my warm welcome. I can hear the harsh undertones in her voice. But instead of malice, I sense a wavering insecurity and a yearning for love. My heart breaks, remembering all the times I’d cast her out. 

I lean in, seeing her bruised arms and breathing in her stale perfume. I do not pull away. 

I relax against her harshness. Taken aback, she softens. 

Her eyes fall to the floor as she begins to tell me a story of her childhood. It is a story of mean girls and unmet expectations, of disapproving eyes and an awkward ambition for acceptance.

This story is strangely familiar to my untold ears. 

I take another look at this aging, withered body before me. I see her wringing, weathered hands, her foot, anxiously tapping the floor. Her nose is misshapen and her teeth yellowed and crooked. Our eyes finally meet. 

All at once, I notice a woman completely unsure of her place in the world. I see a young lady, searching everyone outside of herself for love. I find a girl, desperately seeking acknowledgment. 

Suddenly, I see me. 

I realize she is a broken chip off my own soul that I’d once rejected as undesirable. Until now, she has been an inconvenient truth too unpleasant to take in. She has arrived here to reintroduce me to a part of myself I’d denied. She has come bearing a gift of wholeness. 

Had I once again latched the door shut, effectively denying her permission to enter, I would have turned away yet again from the gaping hole in the corner of my own heart. 

All she’d ever wanted was to be seen and be held in a space of compassion. Hearing her speak, I feel my wound, once clumsily wrapped in a cheaply made band-aid, miraculously mending itself from the inside out.

She gets quiet. I wrap my arms around her tired frame. I tell her she’s welcome here whenever she chooses to visit. Her eyes get wide and she bows her head in humble gratitude. 

No one has ever invited her back. 

A single tear falls down her cheek. Thank you, she whispers. A lightness suddenly fills the hollow shadows in her cheeks. The wrinkles I once deemed ugly now shine wisdom and a life well-lived.

A smile crosses my parted lips. I exhale. Just as quickly as she first arrived, she is gone. 

She has appeared on my doorstep many times before, and no doubt she will return again. But for the first time, I feel like I understand her magic. For once, I am unafraid of her return. 

Understanding her is my life’s work. Feeling her is my life’s challenge. Bearing witness to her is my life's greatest teacher. 

I must tell you—This unwelcome visitor, she is no stranger to your doorstep either. 

Will you continue to cast her out, or will you finally open yourself to her magic?

The choice is yours.