One of the saddest objects of affection is the unsent love letter. A few weeks ago, following two glasses of wine, I furiously wrote one of these and then hid it beneath my yoga teaching journals. Along with moaning about life and unfairness and all the other BS that sits in my old, dusty journals, this three-page, red inked outpouring will never again see the light of day.
I used to write and send love letters, dozens of them, to dozens of people who I thought I would love forever, most of whom I’ve subsequently forgotten about. I wrote them to girlfriends whose friendship meant more to me than the world. I wrote them to boys whose affection and affirmation of whoever I thought I was at the moment meant more to me than anything in the world. I wrote them to writers whose brilliance I hoped to attach myself to by courier osmosis. These days, love letters have been relegated to the collection of antiquated communications that only writers care about. I cringe to think what series of emojis constitutes a love letter these days. Goddamn I’m getting old. This, and the worn tread on my relationship tires, is why I write love, but never send it.
When I look at my little guys, when I watch them hug people with their whole bodies, their faces disappearing into crotches, legs, necks and chests, I know that without fail, had they written a love letter it would be in the mail covered in heart stickers. After putting it in the mailbox, they would tug on the bottom of their shirts and puff their chests out as they always do when they’re proud. There would be no shame attached to putting their heart on a platter. Yet I have to be slightly drunk to write a love letter just so I can hide it away.
My kids have no shame in sharing their love because they’ve never been rebuffed. No one has ever said, I don’t want you. I don’t love you. It’s crippling to think other children at age two, already know the well of hurt, angst and insecurity these simply phrases unleash, but that’s the reality of a cruel and beautiful world. The reality is also that a lot of incredible things don’t get said because of fear, specifically the fear of rejection.
I’ve been fiddle farting around with love ever since I hid that love letter. The reality is that I’m jaded as fuck. I hate being jaded as fuck, but it is what it is and this lovely green color is the reason that I cannot figure out how to let someone who isn’t supposed to love me, love me. I’ve watched a couple of people try and then fail to do this. They either tuck into innocent love (a child, an animal), the bitter love of a numbing agent (drugs, alcohol), or the unsatisfying but easy love of someone who loves them, but that they don’t love back. Is this how the jaded as fuck love?
I don’t want to do any one of those three things so I’m trying something new. I’m writing a love letter to the one person who I’m really close to, but constantly take for granted—me. I’ve never written myself a love letter. I’ve never poured the love that I have had for dozens of numerous people into myself. You probably think I’ve lost my shit and I probably have. But think about writing yourself a love letter for a second. How does that feel? Uncomfortable? Is it tight in your chest? That’s resistance. Is it ugly on your face? That’s fear.
So far, my letter looks like this:
But I’m going to write the damn thing and I’m going to send it because I can’t help wondering, if we could write and send a love letter to ourselves, would sending the others regardless of what’s happened in our lives, be so hard?