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Dear me - the power of writing yourself a letter

Hey you! I know we haven’t spoken in a while. Well, that’s not strictly true. I’ve spoken to you quite a bit, haven’t I? I just haven’t ever given you the chance to reply. But, if you’re willing to indulge me for just a little bit longer, I’d like to put a few things right.

You see, I want to apologise for calling you names: bossy, sensitive, impatient, stupid. You know the ones. You’ve heard them many times. I’m not even sure where they came from really. I think they were just labels we collected over time. Words given to us by others when they wanted to teach us, chastise us or make us understand something from their perspective.

You were always a good listener though, weren’t you? You believed the names to be true, just like you trusted those who gave them to you. But they stung, didn’t they? You didn’t forget them.

The sad thing is, they weren’t ever my names to give but I called you them anyway. Even recently, when I knew they hurt you - when they hurt us both.

There were other names though, kinder ones. Remember when people told you that you were clever, creative and fun? But those names kind of faded to the background as I grew up. I didn’t hold on to them as much as the others. I didn’t share them with you as often as I could have. I’m not sure why. I’m sorry I didn’t.

Maybe it was because they didn’t stick in my mind so easily. Maybe they were harder to believe at the time. You see, I was so busy trying to be better, that the good names just kind of got in the way. I mean, nobody likes a show-off, do they?

Oh, and those rules that I made us follow. I’m sorry about those too. I believed they were for the best at the time: don’t be selfish, don’t give up, don’t show yourself up. I guess I took them a little bit too far sometimes, didn’t I? I think I forgot that, as an adult, we didn’t have to follow them to the letter anymore.

I’m sorry I didn’t allow us to make up our own rules or adapt the ones that weren’t making us happy anymore. That I kept you stuck in the past and didn’t listen when you told me you were hurting.

"No pain no gain," they say but I’m not sure if I believe that anymore.

Thank you for being patient with me as I grew up. This parenting stuff is really hard, isn’t it? Learning to put down boundaries but still be kind; to be honest yet encouraging; to offer unconditional love. While doing my best to get it right for my own children, I forgot to offer you the same love and acceptance. But you stayed with me anyway though, didn’t you?

You were always the resilient type. Do you remember that teacher who wrote on your shirt the day you left primary school? The one who said you were always the one to persevere. Thank you for sticking with me and for understanding that we don’t always get it right the first time.

I’m now ready to listen to you. You always knew who you were, what inspired you, what brought you joy. I thought those things should wait. That we didn’t deserve them just yet, but I was wrong.

I’ve learnt a lot about myself recently; about being a good parent to myself. I’m ready to show you everything I know if you can trust me. I’d quite like to learn more from you too.

Perhaps we can do this next part together.

Yours faithfully,

Me

How counselling can help you

So much of who we are as adults was laid down in childhood but that doesn’t mean that we can’t change. It doesn’t mean that we must tread the path that was laid out for us many years ago.  

Your counsellor can help you identify the labels you were given and the values that you have adopted as a result. When those scripts, labels and unwritten rules have been identified, they can help you let go of beliefs and behaviours that no longer serve you. They help you get to know your true self and write a new plan.

If you’d like help navigating this next phase, I’d love to help you.

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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Sittingbourne, Kent, ME10

Written by Catherine Beach

Sittingbourne, Kent, ME10

Catherine is a person centred counsellor, teacher and occasional poet from Kent. She is on a mission to rid the world of shoulds and musts, working with her clients to discover their passions, wants and needs. Catherine is passionate in the belief that we are all good enough but live in a world that often lies to us.

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