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Sweet soul, where did you get the idea…
that you have to earn love?
that you are only as good as what you can do for others?
that in order to be essential and irreplaceable, you have to be all things to all people?
that it isn’t acceptable to have desires that could only be met by a loving other?
that it is somehow shameful to want to be taken care of/nurtured while healthy?
that your success is measured in worldly ways and not peace of mind?
that you need to settle for less than your worth and value?
that you will never be fully satisfied and sated, often feeling insatiable?
that you have to have all the answers to the questions of others?
that you have to be available 24/7?
that your body has to look a certain way to be considered beautiful?
that you are too old to make your dreams come true?
that you will never achieve your goals?
that you will never be as successful as those who are household names in your field?
that you can only ask for what you think people will say “yes” to?
that no one will ever be strong enough to be a full partner?
that you can’t make mistakes?
that you need to carry the weight of the world?
that you will never do enough or be enough?
that you need to push past fatigue and keep on keepin’ on?
that you have to make it all look good?
that you have to keep all the plates spinning and not drop any of them?
that you have to carry the errors of the past so as not to repeat them, like so many bricks on your back?
that you are compelled to overcompensate for them?
that you need to consistently put your own wishes on the shelf to accommodate others?
that you need to wear a smiling façade that keeps the tears at bay?
that you need to refrain from having full human emotions so as not to rock the boat?
that you have to sell your soul for love?
And more importantly, are you willing to re-write the story?
I am in the midst of re-scripting the narrative. The edits likely began almost 25 years ago when I became a 40-year-old widow who had been a co-dependent, people-pleasing caregiver who practiced savior behavior.
As I look back at that time of my life, I can offer compassion for “her” and remind her that “we” have far surpassed what I ever thought I could. I no longer care as much about what other people think about me or the choices I make.
I cringe sometimes when I think about the ones I made in the interceding two-plus decades. I sold my soul for love. I tap danced for approval. I anticipated other people’s needs and did my best to meet them even before they could ask and maybe even before they knew they had them. I have given myself the grace of do-overs.
Since the onset of the pandemic, I have become more introspective and introverted. Now I am back out in the world almost as I was, pre-pandemic. Before that, I was hungry for the spotlight and notoriety. Not that I want to hide my light under a bushel, but I am shining it in increments, rather than blasting it out in blinding brilliance to sometimes overwhelmed people.
Today I had a conversation with my cousin Jody about the self-deprecating thoughts I have about the waning of my energy as I age. Sometimes it feels as if my “get up and go, got up and went.” She reminded me that we are not as young as we once were and that we do the best we can. Afterward, I went to the gym for an hour-and-fifteen-minute workout. I then had gluten- free zucchini and edamame slices of pizza at Jules and stopped at a local store to pick up fresh veggies and fruit and a few solar lights for my garden. I may take a nap since I am listening to my body that is telling me to sloooow down.
What would your love letter to yourself look like?
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