If you, 10 years younger, had the chance to read a letter from your present self, would you? Would you write a letter to your younger self and have it hop a ride on the DeLorean back to 2006? I’ve read more than one blog post discussing this idea, writing a letter to your younger self offering jewels of wisdom – good ol’ hindsight.
While I love the idea of reflecting on past experiences, it doesn’t go deep enough for me. Socrates said “The unexamined life is not worth living,” which to me means that you keep looking forward but sometimes it doesn’t hurt to evaluate and look at all you’ve done in your life and appreciate it.
I am a thinker, a curious cat, a wanderer. I don’t need to know everything but that doesn’t meant I don’t think about a lot of things. I met up with some high school friends over the weekend and while it was great to have a laugh and a drink, I craved more one-on-one time, discussing and connecting on a deeper level. I wanted to have a few drinks and weigh in on soulful things. I’ve always been that way, at least since my teenage years. I want to share, explore and encourage. We had a great time but a few hours sometimes just isn’t enough to catch up with an old friend.
The word soul is interesting – it encompasses several aspects of what make who we are – from all forms of intellect (spiritual, emotional, mental) to our morals, values to our fire, energy – Prince of Peace within us. Have you ever written a letter to you soul? It can be a powerful tool, opening unclean wounds left in your heart from years of pain or help you deal with a current heartache.
By writing a letter to your soul, you’re let down walls that have been put up for so long in your heart, vines are trickling down. Granted, I know some people reading this probably catch a cold every time they read or hear someone saying they should get in touch with their inner self and explore feelings. I get it. The mushy stuff isn’t for everyone. It’s a bit much for me at times and I’m a emotional person. I wear my heart on my sleeve, so yes, I admit I stink at poker. But if you were just try, you might surprise yourself.
Once you start you might feel silly, so maybe one sentence a day to your soul. Actually addressing your soul, apologizing for neglect, for giving up on past dreams can be freeing, letting go of any guilt you put on yourself. I almost feel like writing a letter to your soul is to write a letter committing to being true to yourself. Forgiving your past self for mistakes and vowing to your future self to a little more TLC. That’s what my letter was about, anyway. It was long and messy and not just because I have chicken scratch for hand writing and a short-hand I developed as a journalist. It takes emotional energy you might not be ready to commit to but don’t you deserve to be best self? Don’t you deserve to find out, through Christ, who you are? Don’t you deserve to discover yourself and get back a part of you that was lost? Maybe there is a part of you that you feel will be lost forever. We give away pieces of our heart to others. I do believe we never fully get those pieces back but that doesn’t mean we can’t stitch up our hearts and grow in love and self-respect, reshaping into something stronger.
If the Grinch’s heart can grow three sizes, then that cold heart of yours that lives with Elsa from Frozen in the ice castle can, too. I hope you laughed at that as much as I did. It’s hard work I know. It’s no picnic to be emotionally supportive to someone else, let alone yourself.
Self-awareness takes patience with yourself more than anything. And I have learned through my own personal journey of self-love that I am laid-back with everyone else and everything else in my life for the most part, except myself. I am the hardest on myself. I never gave myself compliments; I only relied on other people’s compliments to determine my worth.
Today, while I still ride the compliment high from people, what I say to myself matters more. The only person I am truly stuck with the rest of my life on this Earth is myself – so why not like myself? I may end up alone in life, so why not love the company I am keeping. If all I want to do is escape myself, my thoughts then I think there are some bigger issues that need to be smoothed out with plenty of kindness and patience. Every day is a new day, a clean slate, a do-over if you chose to forgive yourself and move forward from your past. That’s the trickiest part but I know from experience, it can be done.
The idea of writing to my soul came from my therapist. I had a online therapist for a little more than three months during my baby girl’s first year. I experienced something no mother should – severe post partum anxiety/OCD/depression. I had mild baby blues with both my sons but this was a whole other beast. And while I’d like to point out that no one asks for it, it just happens due to a chemical imbalance, mine was twice as bad (so the doctors say) because it was brought on by my birth control – a side affect that only 2 percent of women experience. I was in the lucky two percent. I explored every avenue to heal – natural remedies and pharmaceutical. I’m on the road to a full recovery. I don’t have post partum; my doctors are basically saying that post partum has given me GAD (General Anxiety Disorder) with a hint of PTSD. Piper was the only good thing that came out of that year. I like to tell people I have lived through my own Hell and have come out the other sider stronger, wiser and closer to God. It’s exhausting to think that God put you through Hell so you could fulfill your destiny but often times he lets us experience tragedy and live so we may encourage others in a similar situation. God never left my side and never will. I believed it before all this happened to me, I know it now.
In my darker days when I couldn’t shut my brain off, I turned to therapy. I found a great website online and I could message my therapist as many times a day I wanted, seven days a week. Within the first few weeks of talking to her, she encouraged me to write a letter to myself. At first, I laughed it off and imagined the letter saying “Dear Kristin, You have officially gone nuts. Your suite comes furnished with pink padding, a straight jacket and bubble wrap.”
Once I put down my sarcasm and humor defense shield, I began to really open up. As a writer, sharing my thoughts on paper was easy … but to dig deep was more challenging. To reach for the roots of my soul planted thick beneath layers of soil, I pulled away the callous spots on my heart.
An hour or so later, my heart was exposed, bleeding onto the paper, page after page. I apologized for the “grin and bare it ” response to many of life’s dilemmas instead of allowing myself to feel the emotion, no matter how complex, at the time, accepting it, embracing it and moving forward with in a positive direction. I shared with my soul the ways I needed to improve my TLC and how I promised to treat it better from here on out. I promised to not let my anxiety or any negative self-talk get in the way of me taking care of me and thinking of my needs, not necessarily before anyone else’s, but establishing what my soul needed and making it a priority.
I promised to take my broken pieces and use them to do good for myself and others. It’s one of the reasons why I started this blog, not just to update and inform people on our journey with our J, but to be true encouragement – a honest and pure shoulder to cry on. We all love soul food and music, words can heal a soul, too.
And so I say, dear friend, consider a moment when you are alone, in the quiet, pray and then either out loud or on paper, speak to your soul. Encourage your soul, apologize to your soul, reconnect with your soul. Reconnect with that little girl inside of you, reawaken parts of your soul you that were lost; now is the time to heal and grow but only if you are ready. And if you are, it’s worth it – promise.