Dear 2016: A Love Letter

I write myself a letter at the end of every year. While supporting a friend in writing her own letter, my 2015 epistle dropped into my hands. I was surprised. It was in a pile of stationery I sift through regularly, yet I hadn’t seen it until it materialized, one corner of the envelope poking into my palm. 

For the first time I can remember, I was afraid to open it. 

I didn’t want to see what I had written because 2016 was a very hard year. It was far more difficult than any year I’ve had since age 14. It surpassed even the 6 surgeries in six months of 2014 coupled with the realization that my little girl had grown from speaking words to speaking paragraphs, from baby to toddler, and I had missed it due to medication and recovery. I was afraid my 2015 letter would serve to highlight that pain, as I knew I had a far different expectation for how beautifully some areas of my life and work would flourish at the time it was written.

But I did open it. I’m glad I made that choice. In it, I discovered not only that I had achieved every goal, but I found tender words for myself. Just as I instruct writers to do, I had written myself a love letter celebrating where I had been and where I wanted to go. In it were the circled words “keep love in mind.” I could not have anticipated how profoundly the phrase would affect me, or how hard I have worked to hold my  heart open during a year in which it was repeatedly, intimately smashed.

In short, I wrote to myself one year in advance exactly what I needed most to hear to continue taking the hard steps forward in a world that feels mined.

Keep love in mind.

If you have not written yourself a 2016 love letter, consider this: the year was hard for many, but here you are on the other side of it. The page has turned. You are in a new chapter. Writing yourself a letter is a chance to take control of your narrative by choosing to frame it within a positive perspective; one for Future You to find and benefit from. 

When I read my 2015 letter, I was reminded of my ability to transform my pain by writing my way to joy. I saw that I have connected with the abundance of a community of positive, compassionate souls more deeply than I would ever have allowed myself if I hadn’t been searching for that joy. I found clarity in my next steps as a coach and writer. Finally, I attended my own needs, clearing my personal to do list and, in doing so, created new possibilities for my family to achieve a dream we have sought after for the last seven years. 

I am not the only one.

In this last year of coaching, I have seen many benefit from reframing their stories. As always, I have practiced it extensively. In fact, were you to look at my documents, you would find me struggling through and coming to peace with multiple exhausting and painful narratives. I am still sifting through the arcs and writing myself new endings. This is my most profound path of self-care. This is my evolution.

If 2016 held many hurts for you, give yourself this gift–both for now and your future.

Write yourself a letter celebrating what you have achieved and/or overcome. Remind yourself how wonderful you are, because you ARE wonderful. Treat yourself with the respect you deserve. Seal the letter in an envelope marked with your name and instructions for when to open it. 

Happy New Year!

Shawna Ayoub

Shawna Ayoub is an essayist, fiction writer, poet and instructor with an MFA in creative writing from Indiana University. Some of her work has been published in The Manifest-Station, Role Reboot, [wherever], The Huffington Post, The Oxford Review and Exit 7. Her writing explores the intersections of race, place and survivorship. She writes with honesty about her own experience in order to transform pain.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latest Stories

Search stories by typing keyword and hit enter to begin searching.

%d bloggers like this: