Diane Phillips: I’M Going To Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter


Diane Phillips


Every woman could have written the beginning of this column. I did not. It was sent to me by someone close and special and it was too good not to share so I do so in the form in which it landed in my inbox.

My words follow.

A letter to myself and for all the women like me – you know who you are.

You are to move through life showing no signs of weakness. You are to love fully but not get too engaged. Have feelings of anger but never show you are mad. Feel jealousy but never reveal the truth.

Have a good time but never lose control, be carefree but maintain responsibility. Open your soul but never over share. Feel sadness but limit your tears. Internalise your insecurities and never let them see you fall down.

Yet with all of this, we are women that are to show true compassion, unconditional love, empathy and understanding – always. When is it ok to just be me?

Sometimes I am confident, sometimes I am not. Sometimes I know I can conquer the world and other times I cannot conquer how to make breakfast. There are days I feel beautiful and days I want to crawl under a rock. But I cannot say I don’t feel beautiful – that is not looked upon fondly; a lack of confidence does not bode well in a corporate or personal world.

How are some women victims and sad all of the time? Yet taken care of relentlessly by what we deem as strong men?

Why are the strong women driven to maintain optimum coolness?

Who creates this – or better yet, how did this happen? At what point did we (strong women) make that turn in our life where we are to “always” be that tower of strength? Who makes these damn rules? Is it destiny? Is it God and destiny? Is it true that our path was always carved out? Do we go back to astrology? Or is it the Outliers? Can we shift our fate?

Don’t get me wrong, I do not want to be in the “victim” category. But it sure would be nice if, just once, I could be ME. No judgement, no expectations, or disappointed partners. Just a beautiful (internally), sexually charged, crazy hot mess. Is that such a big request?

Then again, to get here, I would have to know who “ME” is. And therein lies the problem really. Spending years of being the person I was always supposed to be. The lady I was regarded as, the mother I am looked upon, the proper girlfriend – who am I? And and and…what do I want to be?

Wow, that is the epiphany. Not only do I not know, but I have no idea what I want. So I stare down the smoking gun of 53 years and that is what I am faced with. Is there still time to be a victim? I feel a very good case coming on! But I do think no one would feel sorry for me at this point. Plan B… pick up the pieces and face the cold hard truth of uncertainty. And that is HUGE. It is uncertainty of a lot of things… who I am, where I am going. How will I learn who is ME?

• • •

Maybe we should all sit down one day and write ourselves a letter like the woman who sent me that letter did. We don’t have to worry about mailing it. It probably wouldn’t get to us any time soon anyway. We should just jot down all our thoughts, especially the trivial ones, and slide them into a mental box called “to be mulled over later”. It could be like a safe for your thoughts, waylaying them in a secure place until time for rumination. They are thoughts so you don’t have to have a best-by date.

We could start, just for the fun of it, with thoughts about who designs these things that we use on a regular basis that someone else always seems to be able to open and we can’t.

You know the stuff. That individual pat of butter that comes in an inch-long container with a little plastic top that you are supposed to be able to peel back.

You try, politely, about ten different ways, frustration growing with each attempt until you give up and take a knife and stab it.

If they wanted you to stab it, why didn’t they just say that in the first place and save you the embarrassment of pretending you could open it politely?

Same with the bacon that comes in a plastic wrapper with the words “Peel Apart” at the top. Are you kidding? Houdini couldn’t peel apart those two pieces of plastic. That marriage is so tight no fingers were ever meant to come between them.

The worst is the plastic produce bag in the grocery store. Okay, so you forgot to get it from the produce bag dispenser and blow on it to open it before you loaded up your hand with snow peas, so now you have to perform a dance with snow peas in one hand and the other hand massaging the bag hoping it will give up its virginity. Of course what happens is you spill them all over the corn on the cob and have to fish them out yourself or beg the produce person - who has been slyly eyeing your maneouvers trying not to laugh - to lend a hand.

Those are just the small thoughts, probably not worth including in a letter to yourself. But someone has to resolve them. Then there are the mid-range thoughts – what do I have to do that I am not already doing to make my family closer and avoid ironing forever?

Then there are the deep thoughts that earn their right to be part of a letter to ourselves. Did we help someone in need when we first recognised that need? What makes us like one person and not another? Why do we apologise to inanimate objects and say sorry every time we bump into a chair or accidentally drop the lid of the photocopier?

Why does any of it matter when what really matters is how we love and treat one another, how we forgive the small stuff, how we appreciate, how often we let them know we care?

Maybe the letter we write is not to ourselves but to those who deserve to know we think of them more than they know.


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