Friday, September 28, 2012

Love Letter to Myself - Odd, I Know

Dear Dawn,
I've noticed how much you're using self-talk lately, so I thought it was time to write yourself a letter--maybe it's time for some written self-talk that you'll be able to read again and again.  Perhaps you need to take your own whispered words of encouragement and place them on a computer screen.  Feel free to read this post whenever you need a boost.  Repetition, repetition, repetition.   Listen.

First, it's time to examine a few of your core beliefs, what you believe about humanity.  It's about time.  But it's also time to see whether you're living as though each truth is real for you personally. 'Cause if you're not livin' it for yourself then you're really not believin' it at all, are you?

Belief #1 - Human beings are deeply beautiful.  The older we get, the more we're supposed to unearth, discover and lean into our beauty.  You, Dawn, are beautiful.

You are a beautiful woman.  You and I both know I'm not talking about outward beauty--at age 52 who needs to spend much time focused on that (when you wake up to new facial and body surprises on a daily basis)!  Admitting to your inward beauty does not make you proud or vain.  After all, you didn't create yourself (and you happen to believe that God created each person, created you.)  So--thank God--you're beautiful.  

Belief #2, part a - Human beings are deeply flawed (a.k.a., messed up).  You, Dawn, are deeply flawed.

Ok, so you've always believed this one, right?  Yup.  Always.  And it hasn't been hard to live this truth.  In fact, it's been easy to wear this one.

Belief #2, part b - Human beings are deeply forgiven and need to forgive themselves.  You, Dawn, are deeply forgiven and need to keep forgiving yourself.

I know, this one's much hard to lean into and it's taken your lifetime to live into it.  But I think you're getting closer and closer to really embracing that you are deeply forgiven (by God, and often by others).  I'm hopeful, really hopeful.  The past several years I've watched you beat yourself up less when you screw it up and make a mess of things.  I've noticed you're much less likely to wallow in self-abasement or hang on to all your stupid mistakes as though they were who you are.  You're actually starting to lighten up on yourself and forgive yourself when you realize that you've stepped in it again (and yet again).  You're finally extending yourself grace on a regular basis--you're wearing forgiveness instead of blame and self-deprecation.  I like the way it looks on you!

Belief #3 - Human beings are deeply, unconditionally loved as we are (warts and all).  Dawn, you are deeply, unconditionally loved as you are (warts and all).

This one's been a hard sell too.  You've had outside factors fighting against your own desire to believe this one.  It's hard.

Ever since you were a girl you've been taught that God loves you unconditionally and absolutely.  Your parents told you the same thing, We'll always love you no matter what.  But even though you still believe in the love of your invisible God, you've spent a lifetime being conditionally loved by your visible others and the culture around you.  You've watched all those commercials and the media's given you it's own version of the truth:  Outward beauty matters.  Do more, be more, don't say this, don't do that.  You won't be quite enough unless...

Even your family members and friends sometimes gave you more conditional love than they intended.  They didn't mean to communicate that you were a disappointment or let you know that they were pulling away.  Sometimes they pulled away because of their own stuff and not your's, yet you still received this message:  I'm not enough.  They'd love me more if I was more.

Finally, in these weird, hard, middle-aged perimenopausal and menopausal years, you've realized it's time to accept and live the truth...

Belief #4 - Human beings have a deep capacity to love, but none of us will ever love perfectly.  Dawn, you have a deep capacity to love, but you will never love perfectly and neither will any other person around you (though once-in-a-while they'll come pretty darn close and it will be amazing).

You've spent a lifetime with this secret counter-belief (even kept a secret from yourself):  Some day someone will love me completely and unconditionally, and I will know it and feel it and receive it, and it will be incredible.  So, it's time to tell your secret, Dawn--to admit that you've been looking and waiting and longing for a perfect kind of human love that will never be realized in this lifetime.

It's also time to tell your other secret belief:  I'm supposed to love myself and others perfectly and I have to and I will if I keep at it long enough.  There will come a day when I'm loving well and never letting anyone down.  I will not ever be a perfect person, but I will love everyone around me unconditionally.  Now, even as I'm telling your secrets, Dawn, I'm aware that you kept yourself in the dark and didn't even know you believed either of these to be true.  But you did.  You really did.  You've been deeply disappointed, sometimes devastated, because you've secretly believed that some day THE PERFECT HUMAN LOVE would be there and it would wash over you and around you and through you and would remain firmly in place for the rest of your life.

Funny thing about bringing these secrets out in the open where it's light:  The words look and sound as ridiculous as they are, and you wonder how you believed them for so long.  Duh.

I know that you're transitioning into a new phase of life, and the changes around you seem odd, unnatural.  Often you'd like your family back under your roof or at least right next door.  You alternate between loving and hating this season of change--sometimes several times a day!

Be gentle with yourself.  Take care of yourself.  Embrace change.  Lean into new experiences, new sensations.  Focus on what you have instead of what you're missing.  Spend more time with the invisible; I'm glad you still believe.

Dawn, you are a deeply beautiful, flawed, forgiven, loved woman.  Though you nor any other human being will be able to love perfectly, I see in you a deep capacity to love yourself and others.  

I love you,
Dawn






12 comments:

  1. Beautiful post by a beautiful woman. You are loved.

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  2. Thank you, beautiful Anna. Much love and prayers--haven't commented on your blog lately, but read and ponder each post. Your writing is a gift to many...

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  3. I'm a big supporter of love letters to the self. It doesn't seem strange at all. You are so loving to other people--why shouldn't that love extend to yourself?

    "Be gentle with yourself" is always a good mantra. Love and peace to you, my friend. xo

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    1. Thank you, Molly's Mom. I'd love to read your love letter to yourself, especially during this most painful time of year as you remember and grieve. Love and peace to you as well, loving friend. I'm considering ways to ponder Molly right along with you this month. xo

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  4. Oh, Dawn, what a letter... The Dawn that wrote it is pretty dang cool. I wish you posted every day. (No pressure.)

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  5. Thank you, Leslie--you have no idea how encouraging your words are. This past week I've been bitten by the blogging bug again--so happy he's back...

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  6. Welcome back. I missed you and we only just "met." I find myself looking for the perfect human love too, while oftentimes berating myself. Doesn't work, never will. I'm re-reading your letter and taking notes. It feels like we search for happy in similar ways. I'm trying to give up the search to find it and know it instead.

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  7. Ah, OSMA--it's all about trust, don't you think? Maybe we just need to trust in the love we receive and give and call it enough... Let's make a virtual pact to remind each other we're loved. Glad you're here.

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  8. I don't have any relationship with my mother now or really as I was growing up but one piece of advice that she gave me very early on was "you can't truly love anyone until you truly love yourself first". I have struggled with that sentence for years. It really didn't make any sense until I reached my 40s. Now I get it. I still struggle with it each day for the same reasons you write about but I get it. I think the secret is just "getting it". Working it through is life.

    Really love reading your blog and you are beautiful. Inside and out!!!!!!

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    1. Thanks Kate--Yup, your mom's right on target. Loving ourselves is what has to happen first. Let's keep working it through together as virtual friends; somehow there's a strength in community, don't you think?

      Dear Princess Kate, you're beautiful. I hope you believe that and love yourself.

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  10. Dawn, I just love you I really do... and was going to write that in response to the comment you left me on my blog but decided instead to come write it on your blog... so you can read it as many times as you want ;).

    I then had to chuckle because what better than to leave it on this post. Is this letter odd? Not in my book... but then I operate in quirky mode most of the time and I like quirky. I found it refreshing and I am sure therapeutic for you... and I do believe I will be stealing this idea for myself today, on the eve of a new year, as there are quite a few demons I need to extinguish with my pen and paper or keyboard and get out of my head and heart because they have no place in 2013. So, thank you for your vulnerability, I think it is beautiful.


    Okay... so what I had originally intended to do was give you a glimpse of what you did for me this morning...I woke up this morning to a happy little inbox notice stating I had a new comment... and when I saw YOUR name in my inbox I was exited to open it because I always feel like you leave me with a big fat HUG from many states away with your words... and today was no different.

    You are such an encourager and are so good at loving, it is even evident via this little thing called the internet. What a blessing you are to everyone around you! Happy New Year to you beautiful friend!

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I love reading your comments--thanks for stopping by and taking the time to write!