I’ve been reading old journals lately, looking for old pearls of wisdom, looking back on the amount of writing I did. And, honestly, sometimes I’m reading my own writing to remember. To remember what I was passionate about and when. To remember people who were significant during different periods of my life. To take lessons from my own history and apply them to my life now. I want to keep learning from myself, keep avoiding repeating mistakes of the past.
I have a letter I wrote to myself in December of 2008. I wrote it at an Al-Anon meeting. One specifically held for adult children of alcoholics- a truly amazing, loving, supportive group of people that guided me through an incredibly challenging time in my life. The group encouraged us to write a letter to ourselves at the end of the year with advice for the new year and to then take it home and set it aside until the following December 31st. I did and I’ve come back to this letter again and again. The message continues to be one I need for my life, no matter the number of years that pass.
I know today that you are scared, afraid that the family you built will crumble around you unless you hold it all together. I know today that you panic at the drop of a hat. The panic grips your stomach, makes your heart beat fast, makes you want to stay awake and verify everything. I know today that you want a positive environment for your children. I know today that you are struggling to surrender to a power greater than yourself. That you are afraid to let go, afraid to trust, afraid to let anyone else take the wheel.
I also know that you are here today, sitting at this table only by the grace of God. So, this year is the year to give it up – to give up the control, to give up the iron, white-knuckled grip on the wheel of this life. You are powerless to control anyone else – their thoughts, their feelings, their actions. Knowing this in your mind doesn’t mean that you’re living it in your life. So live it. Make this year simple, peaceful and loving. You will not be better if your closets are more organized, if your floors are cleaner, if the windows are free of smudges. Give more hugs, more kisses, more love. Relax and play with the kids more. Enjoy their beautiful, innocent youth and protect it. Love yourself, love your family, love your spirituality.
So, if asked to write the letter to myself now, would it say the same things? No. Thankfully, that daily fear is gone. The panic, the jangling of my nerves, it’s not a part of my daily life anymore. The need to organize and clean? It comes and goes. I’m not a keeper – my philosophy has evolved from wanting to organize all my things to wishing (and acting on that wish!) to have less things. I fantasize about living in an RV and having about 90% less space and therefore 90% less cleaning to do. And, most importantly, I’ve come to understand that no human being is going to be controlled by any amount of worry I exert on their behalf. Second to that is understanding that no matter how much of a song and dance I put on, no human being will find true happiness because of me. Each of us is responsible for our own happiness or lack there of.
What would the letter say now?
I am so, so incredibly proud of you. Think back for a moment to the you that wrote that letter in 2008. Think back to what life felt like back then. In the midst of making everyone else happy, balanced and well, you forgot what it took to do the same for yourself. In fact, you probably had no idea who you actually were. The road has been broken, rocky and winding between then and now, but here you are. You got a master’s degree and then walked away from the career that went with it because it no longer fit with your ideals, values and spirit. You took a terrifying leap to walk away from financial security for the sake of your health and well-being. You stopped looking around for things to fix and make better and started looking inside, started healing from within. You are not perfect. You are a daily work in progress.
You lost people & things. You sat with your father after he had passed and held his hand a final time. You ran a marathon. You ran another marathon. You ran and ran and ran until running no longer served you and you no longer needed to escape from yourself. You kayak and swim in the lake. You sit at home, in total silence, sometimes for hours, just because you can. 2008 Jess would have climbed the walls with such quiet. 2015 Jess relishes being with herself.
You get on your mat. Six, sometimes seven days a week. You breathe, you bring your body to poses that you didn’t believe were possible. You fall down. You get back up. You cry in savasana. Tears of joy at the way this practice makes you feel. You bring yoga to others. You welcome in the people with injuries, other broken runners, other women who are struggling to surrender. You try to make your home happy – a safe place for your growing children to become adults. You have peace with Phil. A deep sense of abiding peace with a person that has been by your side for 14 years.
You are becoming the image of yourself that you always suspected was lying underneath the surface all these years.
You are enough. Just as you are.
Happy Thursday All,