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A letter I wrote to myself after a bit of a meltdown:
There are some things you need to know about how to live.
You don’t really know them yet, but maybe by the time you check out of this life, you’ll have a marginal understanding of these things. We can only hope.
First of all, chill out a bit. Everything doesn’t have to be so freaking serious all the time. Life can be heavy, sure, got it, but it doesn’t have to feel so heavy all the time.
Secondly, why you gotta keep living in the future so much? The days are flying past, and there’s always something else to do, I know. I’m you, remember? I know it’s stressful. But you have to learn that tomorrow never actually happens. The choices you’re making here, right now, are the only ones that count. You can’t control the outcome.
Make plans. Set goals. Then take it a day at a time and let God handle the rest.
Thirdly, you don’t rule the world (thank God). You’re a part of it, not the ruler of it. There are pieces and parts in motion that have zero to do with you, and that’s a good thing. Step back and let people be what they want to be. They may be annoying, stupid, or selfish in your opinion, but they aren’t your problem. Let them be.
You don’t have to make everybody happy. In fact, as you’ve probably guessed by now, that’s impossible. Attempting to please everybody will only drive you into complete misery. You know that, don’t you? There’s a reason you’re writing this letter to yourself. Get over that. You’ll probably have to “get over it” over and over again, but keep climbing over it as soon as you notice yourself doing it.
It’s much more productive to serve others from a place of peace, rather than a place of desperation and fear.
I lost count, so we’re going rogue with this list. You can handle that, right? Cool.
You need to know that perfection is a joke. It’s an illusion. You will never, ever get there. Post this letter without hyper-editing it. Post the other 130+ writings that you have in drafts (or at least the decent ones). Send a gift to a friend – it doesn’t have to be The Perfect Gift. You’re driving yourself crazy with expectations. Let things be imperfect, let people be imperfect, let life be imperfect. Let it go, woman.
You need to know that you have a lot to give, and it’s normal to be scared.
It’s normal to question yourself and everything you’re doing (at least, it’s normal for some people. There are some lucky weirdos out there who don’t do this, and that’s ok too). Give anyway. Share anyway. Serve anyway.
Give and share and serve even when everything inside of you wants to hide and avoid and isolate.
Even if it doesn’t feel good, even if you don’t get the warm fuzzies, do it anyway. Somebody did it for you. This is part of being alive. Rest, take care of yourself, and use that as a way to recharge and serve better.
You need to know that the past is the past. You’re jumping between the past and the future, and ignoring the present. The past is done. There are lessons you can glean from it, for yourself and others, and that’s the only reason you should revisit the past – to share the lessons. Not to wallow in shame or resentment. What’s done is done. All you can do is make today a better day.
You need to know that you are incredibly blessed.
You were born in a time and a place of comfort far beyond what others experience. We don’t know the reason for this, but the reality is that you are blessed. You can be thankful for your blessings and acknowledge your pain at the same time, one does not erase the other. Gratitude does help with some of the pain and fear that you experience, though. Gratitude reminds you that you’ve been through far worse, and you’ve not only survived it, you learned from it. That’s the point, right?
The Lord’s Prayer doesn’t say, “Give us everything we want, and take away all of our pain, as we take away the pain of others.”
It says, “Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
Pretty simple. Let’s keep it simple like that.
Now go get a good night’s sleep. You need it. We’ll revisit the list another time.
Dear Self: Read This When You Want a Drink
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Hi! I'm Ashley, and my sobriety date is May 6, 2015. I write to share my experience, strength, and hope in recovery. On any given day, you can find me developing websites, writing, or chauffeuring kids around. Read my story...
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My editor’s comment needs a little editing! Haha!
Your post reminded me of journaling. Even though I was and editor for 25+ years, I never found the time to do much journaling. But during those times when I did keep a journal, it was cathartic. I’ve been told that I am terribly hard on myself, so this post held special meaning. Thanks.
I’m also frequently told that I’m way too hard on myself (and then of course I get mad at myself for being too hard on myself – ah, the vicious cycle!). I journal in so many different ways now, but it really is a daily practice. Theoretically, it would be nice to sit and really journal like I used to, like “Dear Diary, today I…” kind of stuff, but mostly it’s just word vomiting all over the place in LiveJournal (private or filtered), and then from time to time, packaged up a little neater and turned into a blog post if I think it could resonate in some way. Glad this helped you!
Sometimes the only person who can get through to you is YOURSELF. I love reading letters to myself.
It really does help. Somehow it removes that barrier that often comes with writing, for me.