#Relationships

Writing A Love Letter To Your Younger Self

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I was born in a historic blizzard in Cincinnati, Ohio, and this past Saturday I spent my birthday snowed in during another record-setting blizzard in New York City.

One of my favorite mantras is, “Everything is perfect,” so as I winked back at God, curled up with some hot tea in my favorite robe, and began to reflect back on my special day (January 23), I couldn’t help but think of the little girl in the picture above.

I’m very proud of this little girl. She has been through a lot, but she never stops smiling.
When I feel the need to be self critical, I think of this little girl, and remember to love and nurture her instead. She deserves the world, and I’m going to give it to her.

My birthday wish is that you can do the same for yourself. I think we’d live in a much different world.

I invite you to take a few minutes to do a simple exercise with me in the name of self-love and your younger self. Find a photo of yourself as a child. If you can’t find one, close your eyes and imagine him or her in your mind. Your smile, laughter, innocence, joy, curiosity and hope.

That beautiful child still lives within you, and needs your care, kindness, gentleness and unconditional love. He or she needs to feel nurtured and supported. Your younger self needs to be forgiven in a non-judgmental way. This child needs to know everything is going to be ok.

Are you ready to give this awesome kid your attention?

When you feel ready, write this gorgeous soul a nurturing love letter. Tell her what you wish she had known back then. Give him the encouragement and guidance you wish someone had given you. Tell her some comforting words to get her through a challenging time.

As an adult, I used to catch myself dishing out some serious negative self talk and criticism (it has become less and less frequent now through consciously choosing to work through it), but if someone said even ONE hurtful thing to the little girl in the photo above, I would immediately go into protective mama bear mode, and fiercely roar at them.

This love note is just for you and your younger self, so no need to edit, just let your feelings flow. Really connect to this child. I find the exercise to be extremely healing, and it helps me connect back to myself, realizing I am that little girl, and I need to be kind and loving at all times.

This practice is therapeutic because it connects you to your heart–your true self. In the past when I was confronted with a crisis or indecision, I would seek out the advice of others, often times ignoring my own inner wisdom and guidance. My mind/ego was too in the way.

Connecting with my inner child and heart space allows me to listen to my own advice, which always points me in the right direction. I make decisions for the highest good for all.

The more you do this exercise and consciously consider the welfare of your younger self, the easier it will be to honor and embrace the person you are right now.

Here’s an example of a love note I wrote to my younger self:

Dear Kate,

I know you are in a lot of pain, and feel so alone. You don’t know what you’ve done to deserve this broken heart. I’m here to tell you that the pain you are in will become your purpose in life. Your broken heart will help others heal their broken hearts. Hang in there. Be kind to yourself. You are so strong and brave. I am so incredibly proud of you. You never give up. You always manage to land on your feet because of your fierce character, and yes, that broken heart of yours will make you a deeper, richer, wiser, more compassionate woman.

When you get rejected, say, “Thank you,” you are being guided to something so much bigger and better and perfect for you. I have your back. You are safe. You will experience so much love and joy if you just quiet your mind and allow it to happen.

You are so incredibly loved and blessed. You are going to live the life of your dreams.

Just trust. 

Just trust.

I hope you take some time to honor yourself and your inner child. He or she needs you, and is waiting to connect with you, heal and grow.

Sending so much love and hugs!

Kate

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Surviving The Suicide Of A Loved One

This past year I lost two dear friends who were also two of the great loves of my life to suicide. Like most suicides, they came as a complete shock to all of us who loved them. There were no warning signs, no drugs involved, no indications of unhappiness, let alone depression or other mental illness.

“I can’t believe this,” I just kept saying over and over again. “No, not Sam, not Raf, they were so happy. They loved life. They had so much to live for. They were so close to their families, had so many friends. I can’t believe this. This can’t be real.”

But according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, there are almost always warning signs. Research shows that 90% of people who die by suicide suffer from mental disorders or substance abuse. In most cases the condition is untreated.

I believe these two men, like most men, were taught not to express their deepest fears or emotions, and keep their pain hidden inside. And up until now, people like me, who were close to them and loved them, don’t know what signs and symptoms to look for.

What is clear is how much these men were loved and adored by family, friends and co-workers. Both had pure, gentle hearts, life of the party personalities and kind dispositions. I never heard either of them say one bad thing about another person.

Despite not being romantically involved with either of them at the times of their untimely deaths, they always occupied a special place in my heart. They are in my bones. They quite literally are a part of me.

I am haunted by the way they chose to end their lives, leaving me and many others with questions that will never be answered, heartache that will forever be part of our existence and pain that we must accept will never fully go away. In a way, I don’t want it to. It reminds me of how much they meant to me, how their love and presence in my life affected me in such a profound way.

I’ve learned that surviving the suicide of a loved one means accepting a new normal—the normal being your heart is always a little heavy—it’s raw, it bleeds, and that’s ok.

According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 40,000 Americans die by suicide every year. Globally the number is one million, with suicide taking more lives than war, murder and natural disaster combined. It is something with which we are all familiar, yet very few of us actually talk about.

The media speaks of the actual event itself, especially in cases like my friend Sam who was a public figure. But I’m finding most people don’t want to speak of suicide at all. It’s unfortunately a taboo subject, leaving the people left behind, like me, feeling isolated, angry, alone. Even mentioning that someone incredibly close to me jumped off a bridge out of nowhere caused some people to completely shut down, some even walking away from me, unable to give me even a simple hug—something I craved and still crave every day.

When I returned home from Sam’s funeral in Los Angeles, my mom told me she was happy I could go to the service for closure. But I didn’t feel any closure after the funeral. All I felt was more confusion, sadness, anger and guilt. My mind still couldn’t comprehend that he was gone.

It’s hard to celebrate the life of someone who chose to end theirs, right? But the thing is, I don’t think Sam or Raf killed themselves. I think whatever demons they were silently battling killed them. They clearly weren’t in their right minds when they decided to leave us so soon. How could they be? These are the questions I’m learning to let go of. When I am overwhelmed with grief, I tell myself, “I surrender it all.”

I think one of the hardest things about losing a loved one to suicide, is that I will never truly know why they chose to end their lives. It hurts me to accept that I couldn’t heal, help or solve their problems and prevent the act itself—none of us could.

Some days I begin to feel a bit better, remembering all the good times we shared together. But just when I think I am over the hump, I realize there will always be another hump.

I will experience waves of uncontrollable anger and sadness, or I will hear a song, see a photo or have a dream about them. Sometimes during a meditation or even walking down the street, they will come to me and hold my hand. It is comforting, but also makes miss them terribly, desperately wanting to see and talk to them again, and remind them how much I love them. They let me know that they know. They are always with me now.

As many gifts, lessons and memories they gave me in life, they continue to send me gifts and blessings in their deaths—sending people and circumstances to help me heal and grow. I smile and say, thank you.

Suicide is viewed as a selfish act. I don’t think these men were selfish, and they definitely didn’t want to cause any of us pain. They just needed to escape their own suffering. At Sam’s funeral, we were given a message from him from heaven, that came to his father in a dream. Sam said, “I’m sorry I didn’t give you more notice I was leaving. I just couldn’t stay another day.”

Sam and Raf may be gone from this earth, but they will never leave my heart or my side. I take them with me everywhere I go. In that way, I don’t have to get over their deaths, because I’ve accepted I never will, but I get to be with them in spirit for the rest of my life here and beyond.

My hope is that sharing my story will bring awareness to suicide and suicide prevention, and others will feel more comfortable talking about the subject. I hope my broken heart can help others heal theirs as well. It’s time we start talking about it and taking care of each other before we lose the chance.

If you are in a crisis, please call a friend or family member—we want to listen and help! Or you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK.

View my story on mindbodygreen.com.

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