Friday, 29 July 2011

Love Letter to Myself

I do hope this doesn’t make anyone feel like puking. But I got this idea from another blogger, and due to a recent painful experience I really need it now. And I can recommend it to anyone whose self-esteem needs a boost! How often do we criticise ourselves each day? Writing a love letter feels a lot better, I can tell you!

Dear Michael

Your self-esteem has taken a vicious blow recently, so I know you need to know how much you are loved. I want to tell you that you are very special to me, and that I know you are a good person. I should know! – I know you better than anyone else does, because I’ve lived with you every minute of every day for forty-five years! You may not always feel or believe it, but you have some special qualities you can be truly proud of. I know how kind and supportive and empathic you are to your friends. How much you are willing to listen and care and understand when they have precious few people in their lives who are able to do that for them. I know how sensitive you are: how this makes you vulnerable to hurt, but also sensitive to the hurts and feelings of others. I know how intelligent and creative you are, and also how playful; while perfectly capable of speaking and behaving as an adult, you are not ashamed of your inner child and your capacity for play. This too connects to your love of animals, which was with you throughout your childhood and has recently been revived. I know how much you care about the myriad forms of life on this planet, and the dangers that threaten them – and how you see humans as an integral part of the ecosystem with a unique responsibility towards all species. I know how much you care about peace, justice and human rights, even though your willingness to fight for these causes has led to emotional suffering in your own life. That this too is a part of your sensitivity, and of the anger you feel towards those who persecute and destroy. You are not afraid of the stigma that so often comes with mental distress or illness, and are willing to admit your vulnerability and share it with others. Not only have you had to deal every day with some very difficult circumstances over the past seven years, but you have come through the worst time in your life and are now endeavouring to share the benefits of your learning experience with others, with the aim of reaching out and helping others with similar problems. And you are trying to be honest and real in your relationships with others, despite difficulties you’ve had all your life which have made it hard to show your true feelings in so many situations. I know how much you are trying to grow – away from the pain and fear of the past and the pull which it has on you, and into someone who can admit to fear and vulnerability but still develop new and stronger resources for your life in the present and future. You are always searching for new ways to look after and respect yourself and all those around you, through your growing holistic view of health and well-being, your willingness even to investigate one of the world’s main religions (you, an agnostic!) because you believe in love and kindness and compassion towards all. You are sometimes all too painfully aware of your shortcomings, and this too makes you vulnerable to the effects of those who can use that awareness to hurt you. But you are learning to develop kindness and compassion towards yourself, and in support of that I want you to know that I like and love you anyway. None of us is perfect and you know that all too well, but I see the good in you clearly and I love you for who you are.

Michael, you love beauty and wisdom and I can see that too, so clearly. You love art and nature and science, with its attitude of vulnerability and willingness not to assume the truth but to keep on testing, questioning and opening up to new uncertainties. You love the beauty of women, and your sexuality is passionate and open and full of longing. And you love the earth and the other planets, and all the wonders of the universe that lie beyond. You love the fact that the cosmos is vast beyond imagining, and that whatever humans do there is a vastness that they cannot touch. But you still love humanity and life on earth, even though you struggle with pessimism and fears for the future. You are a caring person and I love you for it.

You know you have shortcomings, but you feel them all too painfully at times. Remember that the only people who have deeply hurt or been cruel to you in your life (including this latest attack, which caused you such pain because it was by someone you’ve cared about so deeply for so long), are people who were abused themselves and were probably acting out their own suffering. They are also people who didn’t know you well, like your friends know you, like Sally knows you, like Angie knows you, and like I know you. All those who really know you, appreciate you for who you are, without idealisation but simply acceptance of what they see of your self. There are far more of these people than there are of people who’ve hurt you, and they know you far better. You can trust their judgement, as you are gradually learning to trust your own.

Not only do I know you best, but I love you too. I will help you uncover the parts of you that you’re afraid of, that you have always found it hard to express or admit to. And even when you find parts of yourself that you don’t like, and that others criticise you for, I will still love you. I will be by your side and inside your heart at all times, and help you through every difficulty and crisis. I love you. And I know that you don’t have to idealise in order to love yourself. You are okay. You can trust yourself. And you will be fine.

Just trust.

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