Letter From a Caring Friend

 

In therapy, I’m learning about self-compassion, the concept of treating yourself in times of pain and suffering as a compassionate, caring friend would. One of the self-compassion exercises is to write a letter to yourself from a caring friend, imagining what that person would say to you when you’re down, instead of what you usually say to yourself.

This is the letter I wrote. I want to share it, in case any of you want to write your own letter. And, if you want to learn more about this treatment, visit http://www.self-compassion.org.

 

Dear You,

First of all, I want you to know, I love you. No matter what. I need you to know that.

I’ve seen you suffering for a long time, now. It breaks my heart, and I’m so sorry for what you’re going through. If I could take all your pain away right now, I would do it.

You give yourself a lot of grief when you make a mistake. Any mistake. I know you think it diminishes you as a person in the eyes of others. You feel stupid. You feel like you can’t help but screw up, and you will always screw up, so you’re hopeless.

And you hurt. You hurt so much, you can feel it in your body. Sometimes, it even makes you wonder if maybe, everyone would just be better off without you around.

I’m really sorry that this is your life. I just want you to feel my embrace right now. I have my arms around you, and I’m sending all the love and compassion in me right into you.

Feel it. It’s warm. It’s comforting. It’s enveloping. You’re wrapped in it. Stay in it. As long as you need.

Listen to me: You’re a person of value. There are people in your life who love you. Think about them. Look at their faces. Listen to each of them telling you they love you.

Does that make you feel good? Stay in that moment. They don’t care about the mistakes you make. They care about you. They love you so much. Immerse yourself in that love. You love them, right? Well, it goes both ways. Trust me.

Their love is a soft, warm blanket. Cover yourself with it. Burrow down into it. Feel its warmth. Spend some time there.

This blanket is available for you anytime you need it.

And, next time you make a mistake, just remember: we all make them. We all make ’em! And usually, they’re the same ones, over and over. That’s called, being human. So, ease up on yourself; treat yourself nice. No name-calling. No beating yourself up. You’re still the same caring, loving, funny, good person you were before you made the mistake.

Always remember: you’re fine just as you are. I accept you, and I love you, just as you are. Feel my embrace, one more time, and take it with you everywhere.

And Walk in Love.

Your good friend,

Me

Makes Me So Mad

 

I come home from work at night, to a nice house, with a fridge and pantry full of food, a sturdy roof over my head, and a warm and cozy bed to sleep in…

…and waiting for me there is my loving, devoted wife of nearly 33 years, along with my two precious, beautiful black cats, who are excited that Dad’s home, and it hits me how incredibly fortunate I am…

…and in that moment, I’m as happy as I’ve ever been in my life. Even better, I have this moment five times a week!

But, then, there’s this depression thing…

…that shows up from time to time, uninvited, and pulls me down into an overwhelming blackness, where it goes through its regular pitch about how life really sucks, how nothing you want to do is really worth the effort, how the world is evermore rapidly declining so what’s the point, and how you’re just a worthless, useless, hopeless piece of nothing, and why are you still even around…

…and, obviously, I’m not so happy, then.

And, too often, I will visit both these ends of the spectrum in the same day.

It certainly isn’t boring.

 

Of course, the depression never really leaves. Even in my happy moments, there is still this undercurrent of anger, which is how depression typically shows up in men.

What am I angry about, you ask? Well, any number of things, but mostly, I stay angry at myself for mistakes I’ve made, and continue to make, in my life.

Yeah, I know we all make them, and I shouldn’t be so tough on myself, forgive and forget, etc.

But, even when I can bring myself to forgive, which isn’t always, I can never seem to pull off that forget part.

I mean, how can I forget? It happened, it’s in my memory; how am I supposed to get it out? That’s what I struggle with. I envy people like my wife, who can just let stuff go, and put things behind her, and it seems like it should just be so easy, but it isn’t for me.

For one, certain circumstances in my life are constant reminders of some past mistake. It’s kind of hard to forget something you’ve done when you’re always reminded of it, you know?

I guess I should talk to someone about this. Besides all of you, I mean. A professional. Someone who can maybe help me cut loose all this weight I’m dragging around.

My body already drags enough around, as is.

I do cherish the happy times, though, when they come. I do, really. I’d just like them to come more often, and the other times, less often.

I’d like that very much.