In May 2004, I attended a conference in Maryland. At the time, I was working in San Antonio, TX, and my mother had just gone through two surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation to treat breast cancer. She’s been in remission now for eight years!
As a result of being a plane ride away from my mom during her time of need and not having the “disposable” income to visit as often as I’d like, I was torn about where I was living. I absolutely LOVED my job, yet I also loved my family and was pained to be so far knowing that my mom was braving her way through something so difficult.
For the conference, if we so chose, we were asked to bring a photo of ourselves as a child. During a special evening session, after some meditation, we were asked to look at the child, imagine ourselves in that space, and then formulate a conversation. We were then asked to put a writing utensil in our non-dominant hand and write a letter from our child-self to our current-self. The following was the result:
Have fun the way you used to. Smile as much or more than you did when you were me. Play. Remember where you came from and how that makes you feel. Remember the touch of mom, dad, and Mark. Don’t forget grandma. You’re less serious around those you love, so love those you’re around. Be close in heart if you’re not close by car. If it’s better for you and where you’re going, be close for real.
Love yourself as much as you love others…it makes you feel good. You need others. You’re an independent big girl, but you don’t have to be alone to be independent.
Ich Liebe Dich,
By the end of May, I had pretty much decided to return North to be closer to my family, which I finally made a reality that September. (Granted, I was too close, since I was living with my parents for the first time in many years, but that’s another tale.)
I still read this letter to remind myself that it’s not only okay to love others, but it’s essential to who I am. It also reminds me that I need to love myself just as much, which is often a very tall order. I’m still learning how to ask for help; that’s likely going to be a life-long learning process provided the independence and self-sufficiency that I needed in order to thrive when I was young. There are a lot of things to work on, but I’m also learning that I’m worth the effort.
So, if you were to do this exercise, what would your “little self” tell your “current self”? How freeing might it be to know? How hard would it be to follow that advice? How empowering might it be? What’s stopping you?