When I was a kid, everyone in my class used to give Valentine’s Day cards to the other kids in the class. We could even buy these books of punch-out cards. [Do they even sell those any more?] We used to mail out Christmas cards to friends and relations and my dad’s business associates. There was even a discounted postal rate for Christmas mailing. In our culture, we send birthday and wedding and Christmas presents. We give gifts of candy or flowers or, sometimes, jewellery on Valentine’s Day or anniversaries. We write love letters to boyfriends, girlfriends, lovers and spouses. We do all this for everyone else, but we forget the one person in our lives with whom we spend every moment of our lives – ourselves.
The first time I bought myself a Christmas present was the Christmas after my mother died. It was in celebration of her and of me and I’ve done it every year since. When I retired from teaching, I bought myself a retirement present. Every year now, I do something special for me on my birthday. I do something for ME to celebrate mySelf and every milestone and major event in my life.
Yet, the one thing that I have never ever done until now is write myself a love letter. A love letter to myself? In our culture, we just don’t do that! How narcissistic! And I did it. And then I went back and changed every pronoun for ‘me’ in it. That felt weird. The English teacher in me was harping on the pronoun – that it should have been ‘you’ rather than ‘I’. And I still changed every pronoun.
So here is my love letter to me…
Dear ME – I think I should say ‘Dearest ME’.
I’ve never said this out loud without feeling foolish but I LOVE ME.
I have the best sense of humour with an ability to see the absurd in things and to just be knocked out by that. I have an infectious laugh and a neat giggle. I have the ability to make people laugh at the quirks and quarks of life and, by laughing, to find joy in just living. That, my dearest ME, is a gift.
I have a well-developed sense of play. And I know that being ‘adult’ doesn’t mean that we don’t get to play. There is in me someone who knows that while there are serious things in life and living, we don’t ever have to become mired in the belief that life must be taken seriously all the time. My ability to be young and joy-filled is inspiring to others. I love that about mySelf.
I love learning. My sense of curiosity is profound. I always want to know and to learn more and to try things out. This does not mean that I take risks without consideration. Can’t see myself stepping into quick sand just to see what that feels like. I just want to know because there is so much in the world and in living that is a wonder. I am caught up by that sense of wonder. It’s neat to see happen – that being caught up in the ‘WOW’ of life. That, too, is such a gift.
I am a genuine person. True, I can be very cautious in letting others see who I truly am and letting them know what I think and feel. But that’s something I’ve learned over so many years. It’s been a defence mechanism. And yet, underneath it all, I am still a very real and true person. I don’t play mind games with people. I don’t try to score points off others. I don’t try to puff myself up. I truly care about and for others and they know that. Others find comfort in me. It is a deeply essential part of who I AM and I love that about ME.
I trust others to treat everyone the way that I treat everyone. In the past, that’s come back on me I guess. I know that I’ve often been disappointed by other people – people in whom I’ve placed my trust. I know that it has made me wary of trusting others and that I’ve felt vulnerable in my trusting. And I know that that means that, when I’ve felt used or abused or simply let down by others, I have pulled into myself and licked my wounds when others have hurt me by letting me down. But, under it all, I still trust. I am still willing to engage with others. I am true to my word. Others know that they can count on me. And that, too, is a very essential part of who I AM.
I am a very loving person – someone who cares about others and wants the best for them. True that there have been times when I have become a bit bossy (ya’ think?) with others in trying to lead them to do what I believe will be best for them. And I know that it is only because I want to spare them hurt or harm or disappointment. It is never that I believe that my way is the right way or the only way. I know that I am not a megalomaniac. I do not have a Napoleon complex. I believe in other people and want them to have the life they truly want. I empower people, I know. I always did that as a teacher and as a leader. And I always will do that. That, too, is an essential part of ME.
I am a very loyal person. I am a good friend.
I know that I have always wanted to make a difference in the world. I used to equate that with being important and noteworthy. And I used to believe that I had to create something important and measurable to leave behind me so that others would know that I had been there. I thought that would make me memorable. And I know that I used to worry that, when I died, the ether of the cosmos would simply shift and cover over and fill in the space where I once was.
Now, I know that, without my realizing it, I have made and continue to make a difference. I have had an impact on the lives of every student I’ve ever taught. I have been and am a valued friend. I have made a difference just by being myself. What I create in living my life transforms the world. And I didn’t see that before.
And in reminding myself of the truth of who I AM, I know that titles, and degrees and bank accounts and possessions are not the measure of my wealth and worth. The true measure of that is in the absolute beauty and wonder of ME.
I AM an important person. I AM a wealthy person. I AM wonderful. I AM a gift.
I truly, deeply love ME.
And in writing this love letter to myself, I know that I am changed. And I know that I am more as I feel the expansiveness of my heart growing in my chest. I no longer have a Grinch’s heart. I have Horton’s heart!
So, when you’re feeling out of sorts with yourself and your world and life in general, write yourself a love letter. You’ll be amazed at how you’ll feel when you do!