What would you say to your younger Self 18 years ago?

3/15/99 Dear J,

It felt great to put money in the bank and know that I could create the means to support myself. It feels hard sometimes, but I know in my heart and soul that I’ve got to change for our innocent children’s sakes. M’s tummy aches went right away when I told her mommy and daddy were getting help, so, no more yelling. She was so relieved. Also she asked about mommy’s crying. I said I was working on feeling better. I have been much happier and experience more confidence since I’ve been working and volunteering as a reader at church. Calling on people from church for help was tough, but A’s sermon Sunday, on how reaching out and asking for help is what family is all about, makes me feel a lot better and eases my guilt about calling people in such a panic. God, please carry me, B, M, K and S through our rough waters ahead and lead us to the right decision for all of us!

All my love, R


Dear R,

It sounds like you have tapped into gratitude and can feel the soothing affects of that on your life. I know it’s hard for a part of you to count on others and to ask for help. It’s great to be self-sufficient, but it can cause immense pain when self-sufficiency is taken to an extreme. Learning to trust others is an important part of growth. I am so happy that you are starting to reach out. Another universal need that all humans share is how to be “interdependent.” A part of you has self-sufficiency down and I know it has served you well and kept you safe, but it is important to learn how to trust yourself and others deeply. Keep taking baby steps. True change takes time and courage.

I love the connection you have made with and for M, how our emotions can cause physical symptoms and how important it is to truly listen and be present for your children. Often, we will try to pull away, out of our own sense of guilt, of wanting to do better, but instead you share your heart, and offer your humanness. What a wonderful “living model” of self-compassion to share with your children! Because you connected to her need for safety and to be heard, she can now relax a bit and trust that the adults are taking care of things and she doesn’t have too.

Love, Your Wisest Self


3/20/99 Dear J,

I’ve come to some realizations over the past week. I would find it so much easier if it was S who wanted to divorce me. I danced and drank and had a lot of fun on St. Patty’s day. It was a break from life and stress. I realized that I want to feel free and happy, but I also feel that this is very selfish on my part. It would hurt my husband and kids if I made him leave. Why did it take me so long to realize that I don’t love him, that I resent him, and that I don’t want to make our marriage work? I figured if he’s made jealous, or, as he said, “embarrassed in front of the town,” he’d be forced to leave me. Has it really come down to this? He is so confusing. He’ll say that he loves me and mention that it sounds like I want him to court me and make me love him all over again, but then he’ll say “it’s not worth it,” and that I’ve made him what he is, that I brow beat him down. I want to love him and accept him, but I can’t stand the temper flares and snap judgments. I don’t like the way he’ll yell at the kids or expect things from them that they’re just not developmentally ready for yet. Have I been so lost that I kept having children with this man I’m speaking about?! Why has taken so long for me to see and to want to break my addictions? How do I trust that I can do all I need to do on my own, with you, and not jump right into needing to rely on another man? Help me to let you lead my life, to let go of past pain, so if S does court me, I might be able to love him again?

All my love, R


Dear R,

I hear your pain and struggle. Relationships are confusing, especially with children involved. I know you didn’t get married thinking it would end in divorce. I also know you need a break from the day-to-day stressors, but drinking and smoking pot aren’t going to give you the long-term relief you seek. The journey you are embarking on is one that a favorite teacher of mine often quotes: “It takes a lifetime to do a life’s work.” It’s a rare person who travels the road less traveled. It’s the journey of going within, of asking yourself these hard questions and struggling to make meaning for yourself while learning to listen to an often still, quiet voice for direction. As you will come to learn, codependency and addiction are both part of your journey. It is the entryway for you to do the important “inner child” work. Parts of you have been so badly hurt, you have created strategies to feel better, but they no longer work. Start small. Stay present as you gradually learn to focus on your feelings and the underlying needs to which they are attached, and how to connect the two. In doing so, you practice loving yourself. It is that journey that will allow you to be a good mom to those children. They need you.

Love, Your Wisest Self


3/22/99 Dear J,

Thank you for my life, my love and my children. I enjoyed a good session with my therapist today. I learned some good hints for dealing with my emotional pain. Please help me to use these skills to help me heal and deal. After some putdowns from S, I said to myself, “I am okay.” That seemed to help. My therapist wants me to stay calm, speak softly, and try to walk away, or say to S, “leave me alone right now.” I need to break our habits. I also feel so badly that if S and I are ever going to have a chance of starting over, he needs to ask and accept help for himself, his addictions and his pain. Dear God, thank you for B’s new dentist, K’s new daycare provider, my new job, and my parents.

All my love, R


Dear R,

Changing habits that were created over your lifetime takes time. Many of our earliest relationship “scripts” come from our parents, so it makes sense that arguing could feel like “love” because that was often what you witnessed as a small child. You could try keeping things simple by saying: “You can’t talk to me that way.” Reminding yourself that you are okay, no matter what, is a good start to self-care and compassion. It is part of this journey to learn what “scripts” or “stories” you want to keep, which ones you want to re-write, and which ones you want to throw away or burn. Any part of us, that is not loving or kind, is a part that we need to befriend and get to know. One part we all have is called our Inner Critic, it’s job is to keep us safe by being hard on ourselves so others people’s words and actions won’t hurt so badly. This is so true for you when S criticizes you. A part of you believes it, so that maybe you will have some power to do something about it, if it’s your fault then maybe there is something you can change about yourself so it won’t keep happening.

The first step to true power is to recognize that we are powerless over other people, their actions and behaviors, and true power starts with knowing that the only person we can change is ourselves and our response to someone else. In time we learn that it’s our job to see what the hurt and wounded parts of us are feeling and needing. The journey in, is the journey through. The mantra, Taking Time Out for Time In, becomes a natural process for us, so much so that we can begin to offer strategies and tools for others, but tools that will help us still. So take out your new Time For You software app. Give it a try and see how it can help you soften your struggle with a little self-empathy. In doing so, you are forging new habits, the healthy, healing habits in self-care.

Love, Your Wisest Self


3/23/99 Dear J,

I was surprised that S was willing to start couples therapy. Thank you for putting D in our lives. He seems to care and truly wants to help both S and me. It was neat to have an agreement between us for the upcoming week. I am blessed to have so many people in my life right now. I thank you for sending them my way. God, please help me to put you first in my life and allow you to lead me, to keep the stress and pressure down. I am glad that I have you and I want to be a good person. I know I can be with your help. Thank you for my life, my job, my children, and the beautiful spring season coming our way.

All my love, R


Dear R,

Congrats on starting couples therapy. It’s another big step in your relationship journey. I know how important it is for you to keep your family intact. I also know that it is up to you to focus on the things in your control. Honestly, the only things you have your control of are you and how you react to the situations around you. For so long you have tried to “change” others, from your parents arguing to your husband’s drinking, drugging, and emotional abuse. What you are finding by taking time to examine your own feelings and needs is that this journey is different. Self-awareness brings you face to face with the reality that you actually do not have any power over anyone else but yourself. You and your God are the true story and that relationship will ultimately be the most important one for you.

Love, Your Wisest Self