Updated: Apr 18
Last month I was very pleased to read a "Love letter to self" written by one of the most amazing and strong women I’ve ever met in my entire life...
Despite the fact that I thought it was a great idea and how she encouraged me to write my own 'love letter to self', I kept postponing it. Recently, after experiencing a very emotional moment and as Valentine's Day approached, I realized it would be the perfect timing to dedicate a moment to reconnect to who I am right at this moment and to see where I stand at this giving point of my life as far as self-knowledge.
A couple of weekends ago I decided it was time to do a garage clean up. As I worked there, my daughter came outside to ride her bicycle. It didn’t take long until she got distracted by trying to read all the labels on each storage box I was working on. She then decided to make drawings as way to decorate and identify them. That’s when she realized there were some bins placed all the way on the top where none of us could reach. The box marked 'childhood Toys and memories' caught her attention:
"What’s in there?" She asked.
"I'm not quite sure! I haven't looked inside that box for a long time. Would you like to check it out?"
"Yeah!" She exclaimed excitedly.
With the help of the tallest member of our family A.K.A 'daddy' we were able to get a hold of it. To my surprise, inside, besides a few of my favorite childhood toys I was able to save, I also found a box loaded with cards and some letters I had received when I was still living in Brazil. Amongst those letters there were some my father wrote to me...
I read them. It made me feel like he was still here talking to me, but now as a grown woman. Although, the letters weren't new to me. I have read them years ago at the time he had written them. But just as it happens when we watch the same movie after many years, my perspectives changed in many aspects. Now, I wasn't reading them just as a daughter anymore; I read them with the eyes of a woman, a wife and a mother. Then, I realized how many things I didn't really get in the past when I first read them... I guess I simply didn't have the maturity to understand...
Now it all made sense. So, I realized it was definitely something I should start doing for my daughter. It's one thing for a parent to express their love daily to their child; to teach them right from wrong; to discipline them. Another completely different thing it is to make those feelings, values and principals transcend the barrier of time by being written down as a letter. So before writing myself a love letter I took the time to write one for her. I read it to her yesterday and she loved it.
Just the simple fact that he wrote me those letters made me very emotional... In one of them, for instance, he used a whole paragraph to express his concerns in regards to me dropping out of school after he passed. For the first time, in almost sixteen years - often, I do not allow myself to think much about things that can't be changed or problems that can't be solved - wish he was here to see me and to be part of my life. I wondered how many times he would have visited me in Miami, since he loved to travel. How much he would enjoy spending time at my house... I could even visualize him chilling on the hammock sitting outside by the pool; calling my daughter 'pequerrucha' just as he used to call me when I was little. Gosh! He would be so crazy about her!
I also know he would be very proud of me. Not only for graduating in college, for receiving an A+ on my theses presentation or for being the writer of the valedictorian's speech during my graduation ceremony on the same day he should be celebrating his birthday, but I know he would be pleased with me even though I am far away from being an impeccable woman, a flawless daughter; a perfect wife, mother or person.
Because one thing I have learned is love doesn't come from perfection. It is quite the opposite: love is the ability to love someone regardless of how imperfect they are. The same applies when it comes to others loving us, as well as pride, that comes from the capability of admiring someone and I know he would feel that way about me for the person I became.
With absolutely no question, as human beings, perfection it's something far away from our reach. Acknowledging it is the first step to learn how to love and accept who we are. Just as forgiveness; when we acquire the capability of forgiving ourselves, it becomes way easier to apologize and to forgive others because it teaches us the sense of humility. And that's how, slowly, I have learned to love and to know who I am.
When it comes to self-knowledge, my greatest challenge was when I first moved to the United States. I felt a little lost since I didn't come here with any family or friends. Nor did I know anyone in the new city I was living. That, however, was probably one of the most wise decisions I ever made in my life: distancing myself from everything and everyone I knew allowed me to spend more time within, to get to know myself better. To understand who I was and find out what I really wanted. That became a work in progress. So, during this nearly thirteen years here in the US, this is what I was able to learn about myself:
"You are imperfect! Filled with flaws; temperamental and moody, at times. You have very low patience and you also demand a lot from others as much as from yourself. You can be bossy, which probably has something to do with the fact you are a natural leader. You completely lack emotional intelligence, but you are transparent and, in fact, that is a great quality. Overall, you are a very difficult person to deal with. At the same time, though, you can be so loving and caring. Most importantly, you are very aware of your bad qualities, which helps you to constantly seek improvement; to become a better and more evolved person. However, despite of this long scare-people-away list, you know your good qualities just as well. At the end of the day that's what defines you.
Besides, when life hit you hard, you collected every single thorn that you encountered along your journey as a remembrance of the lessons each one of them have taught you. Instead of becoming a bitter person you learned to be grateful and appreciative of the good things in life, starting from the most simple ones...
You are kind and generous. On the other hand, you are very sharp. Thankfully, you use that sharpness mostly towards your sense of humor. At times, you are funny even when you are not trying to be. But the truth is, one of the things you enjoy the most is making your friends and people who surround you smile.
You are also a very good listener. It is very touching and humbling to you when your friends seek you for advice. You are passionate about carrying and helping others, but at the same time you don’t allow anybody to take advantage of you.
You don’t care if acquaintances don't like you simply because you don’t believe in being someone popular or a person liked by who you are not. You would rather have people hate you for who you are instead of being liked for someone you are not. Also, when your friends describe you as “awesome”, “amazing” or “the best”, while you appreciate it, it makes you feel uncomfortable because you do what real friends should do. You know that the fact that you have good qualities don't turn you into a saint. And just as anybody else you fight with your own internal demons.
You try to surround yourself with people that bring out the best side of you. You have no time for drama, haters or envious people. You know life takes care of them itself and your main goal is to be happy, not to impress others or to fix anyone. You make decisions based on what brings you joy, not applauses. You know your value is not based upon what others think of you, but of what you know you are worth.
But the thing I am the most crazy about you is how passionate you are about life. I know you have encountered along your way very few people that are as enthusiastic, authentic, dedicated and passionate as you are...
You are far away from becoming a perfect person, but it doesn’t matter. I still Love you! ❤️"
"BTW, how does your 'love letter to self' would look like?"
Happy Valentine's Day!