They Do Exist.

My First Love Letter

Editor’s Note: When Emilie sent this in, she mentioned that she was so affected by the love letter I had written, she wrote one for herself. I’d seen several of them circulating on the Internet for months, and honestly? I thought it was silly. Someone challenged me to write one, and I thought it would be a waste of my time. But it changed my life. And again, Emilie’s letter has changed me. I cannot recommend enough that you write one to yourself. Emilie Loehr blogs here and tweets at @emilieloehr. – Lauren

Photo by Elizabeth Ewing / / Design by Lauren Dubinsky

My dear, dear friend,

…oh, I’m so glad to be able to call you that tonight…

I love you! I think you should know that I want to jump up and down and cry and hug you. And oh, how fitting, since you have been spending your life longing for that love but so scared of it! I’m so glad you get to love now.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Maybe I should explain why I’m writing to you. You and I have been through some ridiculous things together. I know; I can’t believe we made it here, either. Especially not with the way I’ve treated you.

I’ve worn you out, and I know you flinch when you hear me open my mouth. This is different. I want to tell you what I should have told you long ago. I’ve been so dishonest with you. I’ve lied to you so many times. And I’ve punished you for my lies — viciously, sadistically, for years and years. Not only that, but the same lies I told to you about yourself, I told to others about you. I let them treat you the way I chose to see you — worthless, disposable, wasted, a less-than-optimal means to an unattainable end, simply unlovely.

I let people call you terrible names to my face, and I echoed those names to you in our bed at night. I let them tell me what you needed to change, and then I wrote you lists of the ways you failed me and taped them to the insides of your schoolchild binders:
too slow
too ugly
too tall
too fat
too stupid
too emotional
too much.

But I yelled over your words when you tried to tell me what you meant to do for me and how much you loved me.

I went into the bathroom while you showered and wrote ‘worthless’ in the steam on your mirror with my fingers.

I left you notes under your plate at the breakfast table, notes that said, ‘nothing tastes as good as thin feels.’

I told you I loved you, then, that this was for your good. Because you were good-for-nothing.

I didn’t love you. When you were sick, I berated you for your pathetic stamina and refused you medical treatment. When you were tired, I made you run for miles and kept you up all night. When you were emotional, I beat you up. When you were hungry, I starved you. When you were thirsty, I hid your glass of ice water. When you were hot, I made you wear long, thick sleeves, and when you froze, I took your coat and laughed at you as you sat, shivering. When you were uncomfortable, I deserted you in dangerous places. When you were attacked, I lied about your whereabouts and defended your attackers. And when you were in pain? When you were in pain I took a blade and cut your skin to quiet you.

I hated you, my dear.

You were so patient. Your heart didn’t fail. Your legs kept moving. Your hands kept reaching out, no matter how many times I slapped them. You still tried to wear dresses in the summer. Your hair still grew back in thick curls. You still recovered from illnesses and came back, your skin still grew back over the cuts, your eyes still searched the page earnestly for answers. You still kept me warm in the winter and cool in the summer. You still let me go running with you and feel the wind in my hair. You still let me hold your children and sing your songs. You still begged me to love, even though all I’d shown you was hate.

So now I’m telling the truth. Because I can’t ignore how good you’ve been to me.

Each joint in your perfect fingers, your strong hands, uncoiling and recoiling, is like a piece of music.

When you wake up with messy hair on top of your head, it makes me laugh.

Your scars are breathtaking. I watch people fall in love with your story and the One who made you, all the time, because of them.

Nothing puts a smile on my face like watching you hold your arms open wide to your siblings.

Nothing makes me grin like your stretch marks. Who knew that someone could change so much?

Your eyes are radiant, like the ocean, changing colors.

Your ears are perfect, sticking out just enough to hear so many words of life and love and wisdom and stories.

I love your legs, strong and ready to climb in the sunshine. I love them even when they’re tired and weak.

I love the faces you make. Only He could make someone who can twist their face and make my sides split like you do.

All the other little pieces of you, the big pieces, the pieces in between, they work so well together. It makes me so happy.

You are resilient. You have been there for me for every single piece of my life. And you will be here til I die. You are a masterpiece. You’ve walked with me through recovery days. You remember every protein shake, every terrible lunch, every run we didn’t take. You remember everything. And yet you graciously forget when we lie together in the sunshine.

I haven’t loved you well. But I’m ready to learn. I’ve been so terrified to commit to you. But I want to spend the rest of our life together. I’m done pretending that I can desert you and still be a whole person. I will take care of you, in sickness and in health. I will listen to you. I will be honest with you and learn to hear you when you are honest with me. I will still fail. But I will love you.

It’s okay if you’re wary of this, if it takes you time to heal and trust me. We’ve gone to counselors and doctors and friends, and we’ll keep on going as long as we need to. I did a lot of damage, and I accept that it may take a lot to prove that I am not lying this time. Be skeptical. I’ll welcome the challenge.

I do. I love you.

Thank you for staying with me. Here’s to so much more for us.

Love always,
Me

P.S. I guess as far as love letters go, this one probably sucks since I don’t have much experience. I plan on getting much more practice writing you love letters for the rest of our life.


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18 Responses

  1. Wow! This could not have been more perfectly worded nor more perfectly timed.
    Thank you Emily!

    August 23, 2012 at 12:57 am

  2. This is absolutely, awe-spiringly beautiful. A perspective not often shared but so crucial for us to hear.

    August 23, 2012 at 1:01 am

  3. modthirtyone

    This is beautiful. It made me cry. What a journey you've been through to learn to love yourself and your body, Emily! Thank you for sharing, and for inspiring the rest of us.

    xo,
    Anh http://www.modthirtyone.com

    August 23, 2012 at 3:58 am

  4. This was simply beautiful. Thank you so much for your honesty and transparency. This letter mattered to me today, and for that I am grateful. I will be writing one to myself very soon

    August 23, 2012 at 5:18 pm

  5. Loved and related. Dang it, now I'm going to have to write a letter :)

    August 24, 2012 at 1:35 pm

  6. Pingback: A Toast to Our Bodies | Negotiating with Chaos

  7. mygossamerlife

    How this made me cry . . .

    August 25, 2012 at 2:32 pm

  8. Pingback: Een liefdesbrief voor jezelf « Really?!

  9. Pingback: You really are lovely| An open letter to my body | These Lovely Bones

  10. Im a bit scared to write mine "s

    September 16, 2012 at 11:32 pm

  11. Pingback: The first love letter | Hannah Schaefer.

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