If Only

February 25, 2016

by Kate Morell

Known as Katie, only seventeen.

It is one o’clock (or maybe it is now three) in the morning.

The second (or perhaps it is the third) night in a row, when sleep does not come.

Close shot of pen writing on paper

But the tears do.

The tears flow.


She knows what she has to do.

She can no longer hold it in.

The tears flow.

And tonight, she must write.

By the faint glow of a lamp, reaching for a pen, a notebook, any notebook. It really doesn’t matter.

For tonight, she must write.


Katie. Me.

The younger me.

Only seventeen.

Coping, apparently.

Never sharing that she is not.

One night, followed by the next. She cannot sleep.

She knows. She knows she is not coping.

It is all too much. She has had enough.

Coping, supposedly.

It is all too much and she knows what she must do.

Tonight she will write.


It would not happen often.

Maybe two months would pass. Sometimes three.

But then there was no holding it in. No escaping, no delaying.

By the faint glow of a lamp, I would reach for a pen, a notebook.

And through tears, out of desperation, I would write.


I have always been proud of coping.

To be seen as coping.

But on those nights, by the faint glow of my lamp, I would write words, sad words. Angry words.

I would converse with myself, sometimes God.

On those nights, I allowed myself to feel and write what I would never dream of sharing. Not with anyone, and certainly not again with myself.

Once the words flowed, from the negative voice in my mind onto the page, once the tears had run dry, I would tear out the pages of my notebook.

Tear out the words of inferiority and rejection.

Tear out the words of sadness and sorrow.

Loneliness, loss, and grief.

Angry words.

The internal screams of self-pity.

“Why me?”

In doing so, they became healing words, washing away negative thoughts that had consumed me. Darkened my soul.

And at dawn, a new day, a fresh start, I would be Katie, again beaming with positivity, so courageous and brave.

Inspiring Katie, who is coping so well.


It is hard not to feel compassion.

To feel love, when I think of her, Katie.

Told she would be blind by the time she was forty. Sent away to continue with life.

“Come back in ten years and we will see how it is going.”

It is hard not to feel empathy.

She did what she thought she needed to do, to cope.

She did what she thought was enough.


Coping, if only just.

And when she was not, only ever relying on her own self to pull her out of that dark place, away from that negative voice.

Part of me wants to hug her, to protect her.

No one asked how she was coping.

No one even thought to ask how she was coping.

It just wasn’t considered, at that time.

But it really was beyond her.

Knowing what to do.


"The soul becomes dyed with the colour of its thoughts." – Marcus Aurelius


Katie grew up and became me, who I am today.

And her coping strategy, to let everything build up inside, then write it down when it all became too much, Katie, that did nothing for me.

If only, I think.

If only I had left my words to be found.

If only I had the voice to speak the words I wrote.

All I had to do was tell someone, anyone.

All I had to do was tell someone those words.

I am not coping.

I know it is not easy.

I know, as who I am today, I have tried, but I too find it much easier to write those feelings.

But now it will be okay, Katie.

I will do what we should have done all those years ago.

I will say those words, Katie.

And I will not stop saying those words until you Katie, and who I am today, are okay.

When we are okay.


You have left me with psychological issues, many psychological issues that, oh boy, this will be fun … I will not stop until they are all resolved.

Those words, the silly thoughts you wrote, late in the night all those years ago, believing that writing them down, scrunching up, and throwing away those thoughts would make them go away.

Katie. They didn’t go anywhere.

Those thoughts, oh boy, where do I start?

They didn't go anywhere but firmly established themselves!

Silly thoughts that became troublesome beliefs.

So. For you, and for me, I am going to say it.

I am not coping.

And, it will be okay.


“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” – Buddha


If only, oh, the ‘if only’ haunts me to this day.

If only I had sorted out these thoughts and those thoughts.

I’d have saved myself, and my loved ones a lot of heartache.

If only I had shared my thoughts.

Yes. If only.


“I now see how owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.” – Brené Brown


Well, if only no more.

I will share my thoughts.

For Katie. For me.

And for all those with Usher syndrome too.

And I know it will be the bravest and most important thing I ever do.

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