I believe there is power in letter writing, and I’ve done it my entire life. I’ve written letters to folks who have wronged me, explaining my feelings and offering forgiveness. Most of them were symbolic and never sent. A few were sent to the person. I sent one to my father when I was thirteen. Another went to my best friend because our relationship had been off for a while, and I wanted to clear the air. Admittedly, I’ve sent way too many to my husband.
I started writing birthday letters to myself after I started this blog because the years were bleak, and I wanted to set a positive intention for the year. In my opinion, birthdays are the true start of the year and deserve a good start.
When you started your 30s you felt like your life was out of control and flipped upside down and inside out.Excerpt from a birthday letter.
I wrote a letter to myself on my 34th birthday. It was the height of covid. I was exhausted from sheltering in place with my family and was overworked in every sense of the word. So my gift to myself was a weekend at a hotel with wine, snacks, Netflix, my tarot deck, and blessed silence. I spent the day before meditating, journaling, reading my cards (not very well, I might add), and relaxing. Just after midnight, I lit a candle and wrote an encouraging letter to myself.
This week, that letter has been falling out of my drawer, begging me to reread it, and I did.
In the letter, I tell myself that I am healed and whole. And at the time, I was absolutely healed from several things and was striving to heal from others. Yet, had I read the letter a few days ago, before my releasing ceremony, I would have been discouraged and upset with myself because I would have felt like everything I put in the jar to burn should have been gone already. After all, I declared myself healed in 2020, right?
Reading the phrase healed and whole made me realize there are multiple levels of healing. In fact, we are always healing, always stitching ourselves up, and constantly hitting the refresh button. We should normalize that as a society. Healing is ongoing. You do not arrive at a shining destination called Healed. Keep declaring yourself healed, and keep healing.
The woman that emerged is unstoppable.Excerpt from a birthday letter.
Let’s use the example of my relationship with my mother. I healed from the grief in 2018, only to be confronted with abandonment issues. I worked on the abandonment to then realize I’d learned some terrible stories about womanhood and motherhood from the women in my family, which also fed into generational patterns around attachment, marriage, parenthood, and spirituality. Peeling back the layers of my connection to one person revealed multiple points of contention I needed to work through.
Am I healed from grief? Yes. I love my mother; I will always miss her. But I learned that part of what kept me from grieving her in 2007 wasn’t just the fact that I was busy and in survival mode for years. It was because part of me knew grieving her meant working through the painful parts of our relationship that I was not ready or equipped to deal with.
It is freeing to realize there is no destination called Healed, and I haven’t just been circling the block for years. Instead, healing is more like checkpoints in a video game. Even if you fall or have a setback, you will never have to start back at level one. Take comfort in the fact that if an old healed wound is poked, it might hurt, but it will never knock you out again. I love to commemorate that milestone with a releasing ceremony.
No more limits. No more living small. No more fear or letting fear keep you chained to the ordinary. Elevate.Excerpt from a birthday letter.
You can find releasing meditations and ceremonies or rituals (whichever word you prefer) on the internet. Your other options are to keep it simple with paper, pen, and scissors, or go with your intuition. I prefer the latter. Personally, I prefer to burn the things I am ready to release. However, earlier this year, I thought water was gentler and safer, and it mirrored the symbolism I’d had in a dream. So, I cut up a piece of paper, wrote a few things on the slips, put them in a bowl of warm water, said a prayer, and did a water-based meditation (basically, you visualize sending all that doesn’t serve you down a river). Big mistake. It did nothing for me. And now I know that fire works best for me. Lesson learned.
This go round, I was very intentional about what I was doing. There was zero rushing. I meditated, visualized my future, and thought about how I wanted to show up. I thought of everything I’d worked on over the last few years and decided what was and wasn’t serving me. This was the equivalent of a spiritual everything must go sale. The next day I spent several hours mindfully writing down in detail everything that had to go and put them in a jar and put it outside under my tree. I meditated and prayed over the next four days, adding things to the jar as needed. For every guided meditation about releasing, I did one to call in abundance, love, peace, etc. One of the principles of EAM is to add positivity and light every time you release something. The premise is releasing leaves a space, whether it’s mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, etc. You don’t want nor need something else unwanted to fill that space, so you have to fill it with light or, ideally, the opposite of what you’ve released from your energy.
The universe is in your corner. She has been waiting for you to break out of that box they put you in.Excerpt from a birthday letter.
While I feel connected to and adore the moon, I usually do not work it. It hasn’t been of interest to me. For some reason, I felt led to time my releasing ceremony with the new moon on November 23. I sat on my porch in 40-degree weather, burning a jar full of paper for over 45 minutes, praying no one would call the cops. As the last of the embers burned, I thanked the things in my jar for the lessons and promised never to look back. Then, meditated on the future, calling in all the peace, love, and joy my heart could hold. I cleaned up, went inside, and took a hot shower, both to finalize the cleansing and to warm up.
Your releasing party doesn’t have to be that formal. Write your feelings on a piece of paper and shred it. Journal, dance it out, paint, meditate, scream, whatever. When you know that you are ready to be done with something, be done with it, and mark that moment with something symbolic. It’s that simple.
WORD TO THE WISE! Do not take pictures or keep notes or copies of the things on your list. That is the exact opposite of releasing. By doing so, you hold the essence of those things with you. You don’t need evidence of what you’ve released. You know. It’s part of your history. Your heart and soul know. You do not need photographic or social media evidence. So try not to keep it in any other way. Ask me how I know.
Healing, like life, is an ongoing journey. Period. So keep living. Keep healing. Keep loving, and living, and healing, and being you.