This morning, as I was contemplating what my first would be after rain shifted my plans, an idea arose. As I moved through the day, the idea grew, and I realized I had received several nudges toward today’s first. I just needed to acknowledge it and go with it. Yesterday, I shared a post from Begin with Yes on my Facebook wall. In part, it says, “Walk on the wild side today: Wear a wrinkled shirt, memorize a short poem or write yourself a love letter. “ That post reminded me that a year ago, before I knew I would be moving beyond by doing a year of firsts, I had written down that intention, to write a love letter to myself. Today, for my first, I did.
Last summer, I spent time sorting through old beliefs. I was learning from an amazing author, named Byron Katie, to question those beliefs and the thoughts and stories I told myself that rose up around them. I listened to Byron Katie read her book, “Loving What Is”, on Audible and was intrigued when she spoke of having a loving relationship with oneself as an exciting, knee trembling, deep as you want it to go type of connection. I knew I didn’t have that. One evening I made a list of all the things people tend to do when they are entering into a new relationship. On the list were things like, Listen, know the other person’s hopes, beliefs, dreams and fears, be present, celebrate successes, spend quality time together and write love letters. At the bottom of the list I wrote, “I choose to develop such a relationship with….ME.”
That was a great little exercise that opened my heart and shifted my thinking. Although I stayed mindful of what I had written, I put the notebook away without doing many of the things listed there. We are told to love our neighbors as ourselves, implying a high level of love and care. Yet as children or adults, we aren’t told, or shown, how to create healthy self-love. We often lose sight of who we are as we enter school and we are taught to conform and be like everyone else. Fear of being thought of as selfish causes us to try to love others more, put others first, but it is difficult to do when we don’t really know what deep unconditional love looks like, feels like. Self-love is not the same as self-centered. One has to do with the heart, the other with the ego.
I sat this afternoon with the laptop perched on my knees, and wrote a love letter to myself. I had to get past the notion that this was a silly thing to do. I had to let go of concern about what anyone else would think. I decided to just type as fast as I could and let the thoughts flow as words though my fingers. I didn’t edit or over think what I was doing or react to what I was typing. I allowed love to flow, unfettered, from my deepest heart. When I finished, I emailed the letter, from one of my Gmail accounts, to another.
When I opened the letter, I read it slowly and thoughtfully. I read it as a letter of love and encouragement from someone who cares deeply for me and has only my best interest in mind. I was moved. Tears filled my eyes and space opened up around my heart. Everyone should receive such a letter. I saved mine.
I have learned much in the last year about letting go of the past, letting go of those old beliefs and letting go of expectations where others are concerned. I have opened my heart more to myself and in doing so, more to others. For it is only in loving myself without judgment that I can even begin to hope to do the same for another. Loving myself, I am free to love another without demanding anything from him or her. I am complete, and the love can overflow without fear of how it is received or whether it is returned.
D. Antoinette Foy says, “The core of your true self is never lost. Let go of all the pretending and the becoming you’ve done just to belong. Curl up with your rawness and come home. You don’t have to find yourself; you just have to let yourself in.” Beautiful. I have thrown open the door and invited myself in. I am home.