letters | after thoughts #atozchallenge

letters | a to z | what sandra thinks

Dear Everyone,

Now that the A to Z challenge is over, I can plainly see that my heart just wasn’t in it. My heart wasn’t in it last year either, but I think this year was worse. I haven’t been happy with my A to Z posts since 2018’s Dear Diary story. Since then, I’ve been forcing myself, and that’s evident in my writing. I’m not proud of it… any of it.

My hope was that pushing myself to do this challenge would get me writing again, but I think it has only made me realize how much it pains me that I can’t. Or can’t do it well. I don’t want to quit. I don’t want to give it up. I don’t think I could give it up. I just hate the products of my efforts, and I have for months. So. Fucking. Many. Months.

It started at the end of 2018. My posts became less and less frequent. Soon, I started disappearing for a few days at a time… then a few weeks… then a month. This has been going on for over a year, but it feels longer.

I remember the reasons I started blogging 4 1/2+ years ago, but those very same reasons seem meaningless now. I don’t have a mission, a goal, an endgame anymore (if I ever really did in the first place). Maybe I am writing just to write? Still, though, I feel good when I come up with words and terrible when I don’t. It makes me push myself, often too much. You can’t force it, you know? I mean, you can, but then it sucks.

I go back, sometimes, and read some of my old posts. And a few things jump out at me.

Let’s start with the bad: Evidence demonstrates that in my 4 1/2+ years of blogging, I have not improved, and have maybe regressed, with the state of my anxiety and depression. I’m also struck by how nothing I have written in the last six to twelve months is as good as what I wrote prior.

And the good: I wrote some damn good poetry, particularly, but also good fiction. Even my personal shit seemed well written. But the poetry… I literally say to myself, aloud, ‘Damn! I wrote that?!?’ I’m not one to pat myself on the back, but I was good. Was.

But the good, for me, as usual, is overshadowed by the bad. I imagine I will never recapture the quality (and quantity) of my past writing. Reading my old poetry, for example, makes me more sad than proud. Where did my inspiration go? Where is my muse? Gone.

And then there are the relationships. I used to feel so close to some of you, but now I feel like I’m on the outside looking in. Or on the inside looking out. Yeah, that’s more like it. Everyone is out playing at the playground, but I can only watch from my window. I struggle to go outside. And if I do break the chains and go outside, I feel like I don’t belong there.

Maybe I wish someone would come and be inside with me.

All of that aside, I do hope you enjoyed my a-to-z letters. This was my fifth completed A to Z challenge. I hope to continue doing them well into the future. It’d be pretty cool to say I’ve done ten of them someday. But that’s far off. You know, five years from now. Jesus, my son will be 20. Okay, I don’t want to think about this anymore!


p.s. — This was supposed to be my ‘reflections’ post after the A to Z challenge, but it turned into whatever the hell this is. I guess I reflected…? But I got seriously off topic. That seems about right, though. 


©2020 what sandra thinks

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letters | z/z #atozchallenge

letters | a to z | what sandra thinks

Dear Z,

You’re a stupid letter and I’m not going to write to a fucking zebra.


p.s. — To my readers: Yeah, I totally gave up. But I guess this post still counts as me ‘completing’ the A to Z challenge. Up next… my thoughts after this month of letters… which will, no doubt, be riveting. 


©2020 what sandra thinks

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letters | y/you #atozchallenge

letters | a to z | what sandra thinks

Hey You,

I always feel like I’m repeating myself when I write to you. I tell you how much I appreciate you, need you, wish you were here. I tell you that I wonder why the hell you want to be my friend when I’m so… challenging, shall we say. I mean, come on… most of the time, I’m not a lot of fun. Or any fun. But knowing you, you’ll say that I am. And I’ll know that you’re not ‘just being nice‘ because you don’t do that. Which I love.

I believe that you believe the things you tell me when you explain to me why I’m not the waste of space I think I am. I have never doubted your sincerity. But I feel your frustration at me not being able to believe those things within myself. I wish I could believe them for you. Yeah, for me, too. But for you.

Here is where you tell me that I’m crazy for wanting to do that for you when it’s about me feeling better… when I should want to do it for me. But I want to be a good friend. I want you to know that even though I fail, your belief in me helps me. You make more of an effort to understand me than anyone else in my life.

I don’t know what else to say… since I’ve said it all before. But I’ll repeat this again, too: Thank you.


p.s. — You know I’d be nervous as hell to get together if we were ever in the same damn state. I’d be having anxiety from hell. But I would do everything in my power to get myself there. Don’t you feel special?  


©2020 what sandra thinks

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letters | x/xanax #atozchallenge

letters | a to z | what sandra thinks

Dear Xanax,

I guess it’s probably inappropriate to write to you. Or at least weird. But there are a few factors at play here.

First, you are the only thing I could think of that starts with the letter X that has any significance to me. Sorry for using you this way.

Second, I’m a bit frustrated with you. I know I need you sometimes, but I can’t always have you because you make me so tired. How can I take you in and then have to explain myself when I fall asleep for three hours in the middle of the day? Don’t you see what happens? Don’t you know how it is? I have to hide my emotions. I have to cover up my feelings. I can’t use you often because there’s always the chance that when I do, all of my weaknesses will be revealed. I can’t have that.

Do you have any idea how difficult it is to feel the way I feel and not be able to do what I need to do because I have to hide my feelings… my emotions… my ‘condition‘? Of course you don’t know. You’re a pill. I’m a human. A fucked up one, but a human nonetheless. Of course, when I need you most, I do not feel human.

And third, you are one of the, if not the, only things that calms me when I’m having a panic-ridden outburst of fear and loss and despair. I need you more than I care to admit. Not in an addiction sort of way. I don’t take you enough for that to be an issue. It’s just that while I have a list of no less than thirty techniques to relax, to distract, to refocus, none of them matter when I’m panicking too much to even find that list, let alone try any of those techniques.

So, thank you, I guess. But I wish you could help me off the cliff without burying me in sleep. It seems there should be a balance somewhere in the middle, but I haven’t found it.

See you soon.


p.s. — Oh, who am I kidding? I already said it all.


©2020 what sandra thinks

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letters | w/work friends #atozchallenge

letters | a to z | what sandra thinks

Dear Work Friends,

I’m sure you think I’m a total bitch. I don’t blame you… not really. After all, I’m still on the group text where you arrange that gathering every summer, but I never say a word. Maybe you don’t even realize I’m still in the group.

It’s not that I don’t have fond memories of you. Well, some of you. [Some of you were, and I’m sure still are, annoying as fuck.] It’s that I am not working and haven’t been since we all got laid off. You have all moved on and have jobs. Good jobs where you seem happy. I’m jobless and unhappy. And I know I can’t handle being around you.

If I saw you… any of you, all of you… there would be questions. How are you? Where are you working now? How’s the family? I can lie and say that I’m fine. I can lie and say that I’m not working because I decided not to and I’m happy as can be… that it’s completely by choice. I can lie and say that my kids are angels…. my family couldn’t be better. I can pretend I’m not a complete failure. But I know these are lies, and I’m not that good an actress. You will know I’m totally full of shit. You will see right through me.

After all these years pretending I’m okay, I should be better at it, but sometimes I can’t keep it together. Being around that many happy [or seemingly happy] people is too much for me. Tears could (would) come and then you’d all know how miserable I am. It would give you something to talk about after I’m gone. Maybe you wouldn’t talk about it, though, because after all this time, you probably don’t even care. I don’t blame you… I’m a terrible friend.

In reality, I was never part of the group anyway. I was always on the outside because I’m just not a social being. We may have had some fun in the office, but I went out with you guys a total of once during the entire time we worked together.

Now that I think more about it, I’m betting most of you thought I was a bitch the whole time… because I know it’s hard for socially capable people like yourselves to understand why it’s so difficult for me to socialize… so difficult that I avoid it.

I feel bad about you especially, J, because I think we were real friends… not just work friends. But I’ve lost all connection to you, too. The embarrassment and shame I feel about my life is all-consuming. I don’t want anyone to know.

So if I didn’t already say it… goodbye.

p.s. — Hey, J? I want you to know that I fondly remember those fake ‘meetings’ we had in your office when we were really just hanging out for an hour drinking coffee. I really did value our friendship. I’m sorry I killed it, but it’s too late now. I’m far too ashamed to ever get back in touch.


©2020 what sandra thinks

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letters | v/vanilla cheesecake bars #atozchallenge

letters | a to z | what sandra thinks

Dear Vanilla Cheesecake Bars,

I could eat a whole pan of you. But why is your recipe for an 8×8 pan? That’s too small. I’ve used a 9×9 pan a couple of times, but I didn’t change the recipe. It’s not more cheesecake. It’s just a psychological game I play with myself. I thought of doubling your recipe, but I wasn’t sure you’d bake properly. Maybe this is your way of controlling my enormous capacity for cheesecake. Um… thank you??

Part of my brain thinks I’ll find joy under the crust when I eat you up, but the rest of my brain knows I won’t. So I’ll have to settle for the joy of you on my tongue. Apologies… that came out a lot dirtier than it sounded in my head.


p.s. — You’re welcome, in advance:

Vanilla Cheesecake Bars


©2020 what sandra thinks

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letters | u/universe #atozchallenge

letters | a to z | what sandra thinks

Dear Universe,

Why are you punishing me?

I’m tired of feeling like I need to hide from my life. I have no peace. I can’t get a break. I’m afraid I’m going to snap.

Do you want to know what brought this on? Well, I’m going to tell you anyway. I almost hate to because I don’t want you to think I don’t absolutely love my daughter. I adore her. But I feel that you’re trying to give me some kind of test. And I think I’m getting a big fat F.

Is it normal for a daughter to get annoyed with her mother for simply being the parent? It is? Yes? Then why do I feel like shit when she gets mad at me for it? Am I doing something wrong? Maybe it’s just my fragile mental state. But it has always been this way for me. [The ‘feeling like shit’ and the ‘fragile mental state’.]

So… I can be the parent and I feel guilty. Or I can give in and know that it’s wrong. (It is wrong, right?) I’m so confused. One way makes me feel guilty, the other makes me feel like a failure. Neither is a winning choice. I tend toward the failure/give in option because then I’m the only one who’s upset. With the other option, both she and I are upset.

To add insult to injury, the husband came home in a bitchy mood from work last night.

[Aside: For the record, his ‘essential’ job is in an office. He is not in healthcare or any job where he’s in close proximity to others. It just happens that his company supplies equipment to industries like water, gas, oil, and other essentials.]

He walked in at an inopportune moment—just as I was [calmly, I might add] telling my daughter that her attitude was not acceptable nor appreciated. Then my husband snapped at me the moment I spoke to him. As though I did something wrong. When I called him out on it, first, he denied snapping at me. Clearly a lie because then he gave an explanation for snapping at me—he doesn’t like when the first thing he hears when he walks in is conflict. Boo fucking hoo. Does he want to trade places? Stay home all day with the kids instead of go to work? No, he doesn’t. I’ve asked him.

Then I felt even worse than I did before. Like I did something [else] wrong. Like I should have just kept my mouth shut. In fact, I only spoke if necessary for the rest of the evening. And this, combined with the crap with my daughter, had me in tears. I literally went into the bathroom to cry so no one would see or hear me.

I just don’t get it. I know I shouldn’t let anyone walk all over me so why do I feel so guilty and terrible when I don’t let them?

Why are you doing this to me?


p.s. — I’m really struggling. I know I got myself here so it really is my own fault, but is there any way you can help me? Do you want me to beg?

p.p.s. — Maybe this is all magnified because of fucking quarantine, but truthfully, I don’t think it is. It’s not really new. Please help me. This is me begging.


©2020 what sandra thinks

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letters | t/teenagers #atozchallenge

letters | a to z | what sandra thinks

Dear [my] Teenagers,

You’ve made it this far in life. [Okay, my girl, you are only 12, but you sure as hell act like a teenager, so go with it.] It’s not by accident that you made it here. You did have help along the way. And yeah, Dad helped, too. Seriously, though. I try my best. Am I the best mom? Hell no. Sometimes I don’t even think I’m a good mom. But I adore you both and would do anything for you. That doesn’t mean I’ll do it right. But I will do it.

Especially during these trying times (and they are really fucking trying times), there are some important things for you to remember. Some you may know, some you may not. Some you may know are meant for the other kid. Well, suck it up… you have to read them all anyway!

Please commit these to memory. There will be a test.

  1. Me not doing something for you isn’t a reason to get upset.
  2. Me doing something for you isn’t a reason to get upset either.
  3. And me doing something for you doesn’t mean I’ll do it for you for the rest of your life.
  4. Waking at 2:00pm is not ‘waking up early’.
  5. Waking up at 8:00am is not ‘sleeping in’.
  6. Me telling you what to do is not disrespectful. You not doing it is disrespectful.
  7. You are not the boss of me. I am the boss of you. I am the parent; you are the child. Please be sure to make the proper distinction.
  8. Fortnite is not a sport. Thusly, an Xbox is not a piece of exercise equipment.
  9. No, I don’t know what fucking day it is. Check your damn phone.
  10. Complaining about the same thing over and over again isn’t going to change shit. [Trust me, I know.]
  11. Yes, cooking for yourself is an important life skill. You really do need to learn how to do it. I know the gas stove has scary blue fire, but you’re going to have to get over it. I will also teach you about fire extinguishers.
  12. Likewise, laundry is an important life skill that you must master.
  13. Remember that we only have one bathroom. Plan accordingly.
  14. You need to work out your differences with each other. I am your mom, not your referee.
  15. Do as I say, not as I fucking do. Yes, this includes foul language. [And it includes cheesecake— I know I had two pieces but you only get one. I’m the mom. That’s the rule. Aaaand Dad doesn’t like cheesecake so it looks like I get three. If this isn’t worth becoming a mom, I don’t know what is.]

And remember… you will always be my babies. Even when you’re 50.


p.s. — I will give you an hour before the test to review. Starting… now. I sure hope you don’t get the cheesecake question wrong.


©2020 what sandra thinks

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