the map

Dear Detta,

Hey, it’s me. I mean, it’s you. I mean…never mind. You get it. Can we talk for a minute about a few things? And before you begin with, “writing a letter to yourself is so overdone” I want to remind you about what you tell your students. There’s no such thing as a copycat, it’s just called parallel inspiration. And besides, even if it’s been done before a thousand times, it’s never been done by you. You can put that stamp of “unique” on this so you feel better about it. But, for the record, that stamp doesn’t really matter.

I’ve noticed that you are feeling lost. You’re running on the hamster wheel, managing the menagerie, weathering the storm. Pick your metaphor. And you’re afraid that while you are in this “season” as you like to call it, that you will lose yourself permanently. Like a balloon drifting off into the sky. But I need you to remember that you will never lose yourself. You know the way back. You just have to remember the map and follow it.

First. Can you talk a little nicer to me? You say all day long that friends speak nicely to each other. But have you heard yourself lately? So much “I can’t…” and “I’m a failure…” and “This will never work.” Yes, you can. No, you aren’t. And yes, it will. You have tons of cheerleaders that surround you. But if we can’t get it together in our own cheering section, then it’s going to be a lot harder to get there. You will still get there. Let’s just make it a little friendlier. Remember when you used to say, “You’re doing good, girl!” Try that again. It felt nice.

Second. Let’s discuss self-care. But before we can even discuss that, can we start with basic needs? Go to the bathroom when you need to. Drink water. Eat more food. This is being Human 101. Even animals have that figured out. (Ok…that was judgy, let’s try to be nicer). And as for self-care, remember it’s not a Millennial thing and it’s not selfish. It’s called choosing joy and presence. It doesn’t mean alone time, but it could. It doesn’t have to be a spa day, but that sounds like a great idea. What makes you laugh? Board games. Watching TV with Mike. Playing with the kids. Do that. What helps you relax? Massages. Writing. Yoga. Of course there’s no time for this. So figure out what you can let go of (see number four) and replace it. I know you still don’t fully believe that it will pay off in the end because you don’t know when “in the end” will be. You still see taking care of yourself as shooting yourself in the foot. But the reason you keep coming back to it is because you know, deep down, it’s true. Go back to that old prayer you used to say, “I believe. Please help me with my unbelief.”

Third. Please, just say yes to help. It doesn’t make you less of a mother/teacher or more of a failure. You may not know this, but when people offer help, it’s because they see possibility in you. They wouldn’t do this if you were a lost cause (as you often feel). You are loved. Say yes and do so without hesitation. This morning, when you said yes to help, you were able to step outside your front door and notice the way the light came through the trees. You felt like yourself again for the first time in a month. Saying yes allows you to be rooted and present with the precious time you do have with others.

Fourth. Remember what your wise friend Heidi said earlier this year? You are the cake. Whether it’s your kids or your students or your husband or your family or your friends – they do not need anything more because the cake is enough. Everything else is a bonus and absolutely unnecessary. If you show up, that is enough. Perfection is included in this analogy. Trying to perfect things is the sprinkles and the decorations. You are wasting a lot of time on this, quite literally in your classroom. Redoing charts, rearranging furniture, trying to “fix” the crappy feelings by moving the picture an inch to the right. The cake is enough. You are enough. Show up. 

Fifth. Can I give you a compliment? With this crazy busy “season”, you’ve actually been doing pretty great at not giving a f*ck about people pleasing. Keep it up! I guess when you have too much time on your hands, it’s easy to obsess over a comment someone said two weeks ago. But lately, you’ve had tunnel vision. The hamster wheel will do that to you. So I guess that’s good. Remember how it feels to not over-worry about making others happy. When you get off the wheel, it’ll be helpful to recall how nobody disowned you. 

Ok, that’s enough for now. Thank you for taking a little time for us this morning. Good job at saying yes to help. You’re doing good, girl.


P.S. And for goodness sake, please go buy a new bra. What you have been wearing is embarrassing. (This is Judgy Detta talking again…and sometimes a little straight talk is necessary.)

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