My T gave me a homework assignment: to write a letter to myself for when I get stuck in my feelings. The purpose of this letter was to challenge my negative and self-destructive thoughts. I agreed with her suggestion to post the letter here in my blog.
Life is difficult. At times, death seems like the only solution. But death comes with a price: you will inflict pain and suffering on the ones you love, and you will miss out on many wonderful people and events. There is so much beauty all around you. When your thoughts are overwhelming you: stop for a minute and breathe. Be aware of your surroundings: objects, animals, people, nature.
One of the most beautiful things in life is love. Reflect on all the people and animals who you love and who love you presently. Reflect on all the people and animals from your past who you have loved and who have loved you:
Patty, Lisa, Melissa, Mrs. Grensted, Mrs. Wadley, Mrs. Mooney, Amy, Kristen, Christine, Julia, Senora Llamas, Mrs. Stallman, Mrs. Outlaw, Mrs. Smiley, Mrs. Callier, Mrs. Navidi, Mrs. Peterson, Mrs. Foley, Mrs. Kuptz, Steve, Nancy, Brooke, Becca, Sara, Lindsay, Shelly and Michael, Stacy and Harry, Valare and Gary, Cesar, Hannah, Ruth, Jen, April, Amy, Debbie, Marilyn, Za, Teresa, Donna, Nancy, Maria, Loretta, Tim, Kim, Samantha, and Shay.
That’s 49 people from your past. 49 people who chose to love you. There’s even more than that. Plus, there all the people whose life you effected positively.
When you feel alone, remember you are never completely alone. There are always people in your life, even if it’s just professionals. And just as you remember people from your past, many people remember you. Just because people can’t physically be there or they re no longer able to be in your life, doesn’t mean they don’t love you.
You are valuable. You have many things to offer others. You can support, encourage, teach, listen. But value isn’t solely what you can do for others. It’s what makes you unique. You are valuable simply because you are you. You are analytical, smart, creative, organized, empathetic, reliable, honest, caring, loving, shy, and even emotional. All of these things are valuable and it positively effects people around you. A simple smile or hello can change someone’s day. When you tutored: you helped people learn, achieve their goals, and gain confidence. Your ability to smile and laugh even while depressed helped bring a little joy to the people at the hospital, crisis house, board and care, and homeless shelter.
You consider yourself to be an accepting person. You don’t judge others for physical, mental, or intellectual attributes, no for their beliefs or past. You accept people for who they are and where they are in life. The only people you reject are the people who have maliciously hurt you, people you love, or others. Why then do you judge yourself much harsher than you do other people? You have never maliciously hurt anyone. You are constantly caring for others and putting their needs before your own. If you can accept everyone else, then you can accept yourself too.
I know you feel you deserve to be punished for things in the past. Those things will always be a part of you, but they do not define who you are. You were a child, a teenager, a young adult. You either didn’t understand the consequences or you tried to make the best decision in a bad situation. Everyone make mistakes: big and small. If everyone punished themselves for all their mistakes, the world would be broken and injured. The most important thing is that you’re sorry and regret your mistakes, and have made changes to not only try to prevent past mistakes, but to improve and educate yourself.
Harming your body is not only punishing yourself, but also punishing the people you love. You already suffer from the pain from your past, and from the depression and anxiety. Harming yourself will not take away the pain. It doesn’t right any wrongs. It doesn’t hurt the people who hurt you; it doesn’t even affect them. And it doesn’t prevent anyone else from hurting you. In fact, it displays to the world your vulnerabilities. Self-harm does, however, make life more difficult for you. It causes you to suffer from physical pain, as well as, mental pain. It causes you to alienate yourself instead of seeking out the support you need. And there are unwanted consequences for the self-harm. Many people over-react, they might judge you, they might threaten you or punish you believing that they are helping you. Self-harm causes you to suffer from more mental pain.
Your skin is extremely important. It protects your organs, muscles, bones. It protects you from viruses, bacteria, and ultraviolet light. It absorbs Vitamin D which is important for your body to function. It helps maintain internal temperature, and it allows you to recognize changes in your environment. It allows you to feel pleasure, comfort, and pain. Touch, healthy positive touch, is important to your well-being. Touch slows heart rate, lowers blood pressure, reduces stress, and enhances immune system. In your childhood, you were deprived of touch and now you value it as it can provide you with a sense of comfort and safety. Your skin is not evil, dirty, disgusting. It has not harmed you or anyone else. Take care of it so that you can continue to enjoy touch from others.
Sometimes in order to go forward, you might have to stop or even go backwards. Stopping allows you to look how far you’ve come, let’s you enjoy all that you have accomplished, and allows you to regain strength and focus. Going backwards allows you to re-learn lessons, helps strengthen weaknesses, and can allow you to re-prioritize. Life is a journey; not a race. There is no shame in taking some breaks so you can catch your breath.
The fears you have stem from the pain in your past. But the pain is often times worth whatever was gained. There have been many times when you have tried to kill yourself or have wanted to kill yourself, but look at all the good things you would have missed out on. Same thing goes with your fears. If you let your fears control you, you might be missing out on many wonderful things. It is risky. But think back to the past. All of the relationships you have cherished: were they worth whatever pain that came with them? If you could go back (knowing how it will all end), would you still want that relationship? The answer is yes…because of how much you value people and love. So while the fears may continue to exist, take the risk of having relationships with people you enjoy.