Dear Self: Writing Love Letters to Ourselves
“I hate my thunder thighs.”
“I can’t do anything right.”
“I’m so stupid.”
How many of us have heard (or said) something like this in the past week? It’s ok, I raised my hand too. Self-hate and criticism is an epidemic, and as part of the initiative to stop self-hate, Voice in Recovery has issued a The April Self Love Letter Challenge, encouraging readers to write love letters to themselves.
I loved this idea, because I believe that the only way to combat negative self-talk is to replace it with positive self-talk, and sometimes we need to write those positive thoughts down to help them stick in our minds.
I encourage all of you to participate in this wonderful challenge, visit Voice in Recovery for details.
So without further ado, here’s my letter to myself:
I wrote to your 13-year-self awhile back, but now I write to the woman you are today. You’re all grown up now, but still essentially the same person as that terrified, overwhelmed eighth grader with no fashion sense who just wanted to fit in. Now you know you’d rather create your own mold than try to fit someone else’s. You’ve realized that your worth is infinite and doesn’t exist in the opinions of others. It isn’t measured by the number on the scale or on the tag of your jeans and doesn’t depend on your compliancy with social norms or expectations.
I know we haven’t always been friends. I haven’t always liked you. Sometimes I’ve been really mean to you, like those months I forced you to exist on 700 calories a day, or when I scrubbed your face with rubbing alcohol and a loofah to tame the teenage breakouts, or when I thought you were weak for feeling afraid of growing up. I’m sorry for letting people take advantage of you because I thought you deserved it. It took twenty-two years for me to realize how strong and brave you are and how much love you have in your heart. I mistook your empathy and sensitivity for weakness.
At only 20, you made the decision to never diet again and to learn to love your body no matter what, which led you on an incredible odyssey of learning the novel concept of self-love. Instead of burying your problems in food and trying to control your body, you were determined to face those issues head-on while still being gentle with yourself if it was too much. That took guts. You learned to love your awkward goofiness instead of trying to act sophisticated. You embraced your introverted, contemplative nature instead of trying to be the social butterfly you felt like you should be. You never let anyone tell you who you are, because you already knew. Most of all, you realized that it’s ok to love yourself, that self-hatred and criticism isn’t right; you didn’t have to participate in the national epidemic of self-loathing.
Now, you’re a terrified 22-year-old who still has no fashion sense but is confident enough to wear tee shirts and jeans anyway and not give a damn. You’re not the life of the party and you’re ok with that. You’re ok with being the quiet girl who would rather be at home watching The Muppet Show, baking cookies or cutting up magazines to collage.
I’m sorry for thinking you were worthless; that no one would ever love you or that you deserved horrible treatment because you could never get any better, that boyfriends cheated because you weren’t good enough for them, or that you couldn’t do anything right just because you couldn’t fulfill someone else’s expectations. I’m sorry I tried to force you to be something you weren’t so everyone else would accept you, and for taking so long to realize that the only person who truly needed to accept you was me. I love you the way you are, the oddball sense of humor, the dirt under your fingernails, and the flipper feet. You’re special, no matter who loves you or who hurts you. I promise I’ll always be there for you. I might let you down sometimes, but I’ll do my best not to. Remember how special you are, just for being yourself.