At the end of 2016, we challenged our readers to write a “goodbye” letter to something they wanted to leave behind as they entered into the next year. This exercise was meant to be a way to free ourselves and start the New Year off right! You can read more about the challenge here.
Several of you expressed feeling lighter and more excited for the year to come after writing your letter! We picked nine letters to share with you, and hope they will inspire you to write your own “goodbye” letter if you haven't already!
Dear House Shame,
Big News! In 2017 we’re parting ways. Good riddance. I know this comes as a complete surprise since we’ve never talked about our symbiotic, unhealthy relationship– but frankly– as abrupt as “good-bye” may seem, it’s not up for discussion.
I’m finally prepared to acknowledge my unsound reliance on you, but as to your response to my rejection; I’d rather not hear it. As you know, I’ve spent my adult life listening to you plead your case and, in hindsight, I can clearly see that your arguments have always been weak and pathetic.
Letting you in the door in the first place was my mistake. Your continuous jabs and non-stop pestering worked so well that eventually feeling ashamed overtook logical reason.
During high school when I still lived with my parents, our negative relationship grew like unwanted thistle. Inviting in friends or classmates became a bloated river I couldn’t cross, and now, more than 45-years later, I STILL panic when neighbors stop by or friends plan to visit. Why? Because you convinced me that I should be embarrassed about my surroundings, causing me to constantly compare my own home with what others live in. No matter that I live in a home arguably nicer than 99 percent of the world’s population, the shame was a roadblock.
Secretly whispered admonishments and unrealistic expectations kept me from being satisfied with what I had, envious of those that looked better or bigger, and wasting valuable time wishing I had something more that I could be proud of. Visiting another home left me feeling as if I’d cheated on a loyal spouse.
So I’m finally waving you off. No more excuses for not inviting the neighbors. Quickly prepared excuses not to include friends are a thing of the past. And I certainly won’t enter someone else’s home wearing a look of astonishment. I might be dazzled, but I’ll remain loyal. Truth is my new lover.
I’m blessed beyond belief to have a roof over my head, a blanket on my bed, and a meal ready to prepare. Feeling the ridiculous shame of the home I live in has been replaced by gratefulness. Shame; find another soul to torment because this one has broken FREE!
[ Debbie Robertson is a late blooming Christian outdoorsman. Always up for an adventure, she loves to travel, backpack, hike, and enjoy the outdoors. Regardless of the activity or the weather, she is especially keen to find God in nature and feels compelled to write about it. She is “Mom” to an equally adventuresome adult son and lives vicariously through his multiple world travels. When not outdoors you’ll find her prone on the couch reading, watching documentaries, or cuddling with her pit bull, Cocoa. ]
Goodbye Cynical Cindy,
It’s been a really long year. An eventful year, full of twists and turns and lots of moving. It’s been lonely and quiet at times. We’ve had some full-on adventures, and I’m grateful we made it through the treacherous unexpected paths. But here’s the thing, it’s time we say, “Goodbye.”
It won’t be easy. Mostly because you are my closest friend, the one I’ve leaned on for everything. You’re the best cheerleader I could have ever asked for. When life threw me lemons, you were there, reminding me, I deserved to be hit, I walked into every lemon with free will. At every obstacle, I could count on you to say I was making the biggest mistake of my life.
Your reliability is what kept us together for so long. You were there when I spent endless hours preparing my blog to be released; when I made the decision to move to Minnesota, to go on an adventure, to find myself, to start over again and again and again. Each day as I practiced and was encouraged to be an Orange Theory Fitness Coach, you made sure to remind me I wouldn’t actually be any good at coaching and it was a waste of time.
When I escaped to Florida for some sunshine in March, after a record warm winter in Minnesota, you convinced me to move away before spring came, you didn’t want me to experience too much joy and get stuck for a really cold winter. At the time, I thought you were looking out for me, and I needed to stay attached to your disillusioned reasoning because you were my closest friend. It’s okay; I was equally possessive with keeping you around.
But then I moved back to California, and I fell in love. That’s when you came in full force, doing everything in your nature to destroy the new romance, and I gave you complete control. With you by my side, I knew what to expect.
I’ve made it through all of 2016, moving five times, never really knowing where I was going, all the while obeying your skeptical remarks. I can no longer take the daily reminders of how disillusioned I am for believing I can survive on my own in this world. I’ve spent 14 years listening to the negative worldview you so graciously shared, and I want you to know that it’s taught me a lot.
Mostly, I've learned that it’s exhausting having you around. Nobody wants to be with you, except me. And in keeping you here, I’m losing the motivation to breathe and grow. It’s time we say goodbye so that I can reach my full potential.
Here are some things you will miss out on in 2017: I’m going to enjoy finishing a couple novellas, then I will publish Take Me Away With You and Gateway. They will be good enough; they won’t be perfect. Then I will tour them around the United States with my bestie from preschool, and we will share why I wrote them because they are written with purpose. You will miss the part where I latch onto a reality that believes in dreams and accepts imperfections. This will make you angry, and you’ll tell yourself I’m ungrateful and not to be trusted. You’ll doubt all my successes and point out all my failures. I will thank you anyway because, for the past four years, you were my closest companion.
[ When Danielle isn't writing or training, she can be found performing slam poetry or dancing. She is a Functional Movement Coach, Certified in Foundation Training, Yoga, Massage Therapy, Cranial Sacral Therapy, TRX, and NASM. Currently, she lives in Monterey, Ca. Contact her today to reach your health and wellness goals and check out her blog @ Getwellwithdanielle ]
Dear Family Photo,
I’ve displayed you prominently in my heart for many years, but must now let you go. You’ve been a part of my life since I formed you as a youngster to mimic my happy childhood home. It wasn’t wrong to use you to represent my grown-up family, but your time has come to an end.
When you were all shined up and ready to display, you looked so good. A proud husband and happy children gathered around a young but grown-up version of me. My eyes shone with hope, vitality, and peace. This was where I belonged. I knew from seeing you I could surely look forward to a happy, close family.
It was uncanny, but the images in the background looked like my childhood home in the country. The gatherings at grandmas, visits from the cousins, and outdoor cookouts dressed you up.
But life took a toll on you. When my husband left our marriage for an affair, a jagged rip replaced him and the eyes of my two young sons dimmed a bit. Many years later I taped in a replacement picture of my wonderful new husband and step-daughter.
As our family grew, I grafted pictures of my children’s spouses and my grandchildren into you. I counted on the background to remain the same, but it too changed, and that’s where the trouble began.
My children were busy with their young families and could no longer visit, so our family gatherings dwindled and disappeared. Family feuds forged deep wrinkles in your paper, which I furtively tried to press out. I vehemently fought the changes, but my prayers and pleading were useless, usually resulting in me collapsed on my bed sobbing.
But all this time God has been at work. My childhood was great, and I need to be thankful for it but not cling to it. You weren’t intended to be a model for my life, but rather to motivate me to set goals. I vow to love the messy life I have and treat it as the gift it is.
Thank you for all those years together, though.
I will never forget you,
[ A Christian writer who works as a Community Wellness Coordinator in Boone County, IN, Holly Catron is all about nutrition and active living. In addition to working with her husband to transform their small farm and homesteading experience into a family business, she loves spending time with family and friends. ]
I’m leaving you. It’s you. But, it’s also me. Please, let me explain.
It’s you because you demanded more of me than any person is capable of giving. You never encouraged or praised me, even when I poured my time, money, and entire heart into you. No matter how much I gave you, you took more, and at the end of each day, I still felt I had not done enough. I could never tell whether anything I said got through to you. You expected me to be everything for you, and you convinced me that I would be nothing without you. You had no sympathy for my problems, no interest in my hobbies, and no concern for my friends and family. I retreated from all of those parts of my life for you, but you never did anything for yourself.
It’s not just you, though. It’s me too. I transformed you from meaningful work into an overwhelming burden. My perfectionism made me feel that your gains were never good enough. I allowed you to be my entire life and allowed your successes and failures to determine my self-worth. I made myself a victim of your endless demands and disappointments. I wallowed in self-pity and spent my spare time ruminating on aspects of you that were completely outside my control as if doing so would give me the power to change parts of you I couldn’t before.
Though I acknowledge my own role in ruining our relationship, I feel our separation was inevitable. One person simply cannot be everything to everyone, or even anyone for that matter. Until you can stop expecting that, you will continue to overwhelm, depress, and break the hearts of teachers who care about you.
Even though you have hurt me, I want you to know that I cared more about you than I have for anyone or anything else in my life. It breaks my heart to leave you, but I have to take care of myself because I know you never will. The most important lesson you taught me is that my happiness must not depend on things outside my control. My decision to leave you is the first step in taking control of my own happiness.
I wish you all the best.
[ Emily Miner lives in Grand Rapids, MI where she enjoys bike-commuting, rock-climbing, and knitting away the long Michigan winters. She currently has house plants as pets but would love to have a truly enormous dog someday. ]
You were an awful year beginning with the unexpected death of my beloved mother-in-law on January 28th. In the middle of that, her son, my husband, became unexpectedly incapacitated — requiring an orthopedic surgery and thus, extended time off work. Running between two hospital rooms, in the hospital I was working was physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting. Towards spring, things improved. We were working through our grief and my husband was back to work. Life would be normal again. Then, on June 21, I found a lump in my breast. On July 14th, my worst fears were confirmed: I had breast cancer. July 16th, I had to look my three boys in the eyes and tell them that I had the same disease that took the life of their beloved Gramma just six months prior. It was easily the worst day of my life. But that day I promised my boys that I was going to fight though things would get worse before they got better. However, I was not going to die; I would not leave them. In the ensuing months, I have found strength that I never knew I had. I had more support from family, friends, coworkers, and strangers than I ever thought I deserved.
Fast forward to NYE…I am done with surgery and treatments for now. My prognosis is excellent, and I have no reason to believe that I will not be a survivor. I have been offered a new position at work that fits the fresh start I need for 2017. I am leaving any and all ill feelings and hurts in 2016. They will stay there because I cannot move forward in 2017 carrying old burdens. My new motto is: If I can do cancer, I can do anything.
[ Melissa is 41-years-old. Married to Jimmy for 13 years with three boys ages 12, 10, and 8. RN for 20 years, last 13 have been in the ER. Active sports Mom. ]
Dear Golden Opportunity,
You did it! You went from a mere thought to a dream then to a goal and finally became the real deal. No longer a silly aspiration many thought I was a fool for chasing, I enjoyed reveling in the idea that all my hard work, sacrifices and time had paid off and you were finally, finally mine. The doors you opened to me right away still take my breath away and, at the time, it seemed like the world was mine for the taking. Thanks to you it seemed that every moment of self-doubt and insanity I had working toward you had not been in vain. For a while, I held you close to my chest to savor the wonderful feelings you gave me.
Eventually, as I started sharing you with those closest to me, it became clear that their excitement toward you was nowhere near mine. Hurt and confused, I tried to make peace with the opinions of those I had shared you with. While I try not to worry about what others think of me, those I chose to share you with have had a profound impact on my life, and their opinions are rooted at the very core of my being. When trying to figure out which path to take, I found myself experiencing a lot of inner turmoil and spent more time than I would like to admit emotionally hurting.
On top of this, other factors around me seemed to be taking a turn for the worst and only added to my misery. If anything, though, the steps I have taken to earn something as grand as you have taught me that nothing is without hope, to always work hard, and to have faith in even the worst circumstances. While I ended up giving you up out of respect to those who are responsible in many ways for the person I have become, I think this was meant to happen for a reason. I have made peace with letting you go by realizing that I will end up where I am meant to be even if my journey is nontraditional.
The pain I felt over losing you was softened by the idea that someone will have their journey be forever changed as they receive the opportunities you gave me. I am looking forward to what is to come next for I have a newfound inner strength that can only grow stronger and stronger with each day I face. I was blessed to have you show me that hard work can lead to beautiful things, and I hope the next person lucky enough to call you hers realizes how fortunate she is. Ultimately, while there will be days where I question what could have been, I know my life will move on in the direction it was truly intended. Thank you, golden opportunity for the lessons and being a dream come true.
First, I want to thank you for the lessons you've taught me in 2016. If it weren't for you, I wouldn't have the mindset to want to write this letter today. I wouldn't have gotten into the huge fight on the sidewalk that night that finally led me to seek help. If it weren't for you, I wouldn't be entering 2017 as my best, happiest self.
I understand you might always linger around the way a scar is always visible, but you'll no longer be an open, painful wound. You've been with me all my life, but 2017 is the year we will part ways. I don't need you anymore, and I'm not afraid of you anymore. I have tools and knowledge now to know I want and deserve better than living a life wishing I were dead.
I've Got It From Here
[ Christine is a boutique store manager and podcast addict in Richmond, VA. When she’s not working you can find her reading self-improvement or interior design books, looking at puppy photos, and perfecting her Instagram. ]
I cannot say that your presence in my life has been pleasant. You slithered your way into my mind and took advantage of my vulnerability. When I asked myself, “V, why are you being bullied and ostracized?” You answered, “Because you are not good enough.” I would never know until now, the full ramifications of your deceit.
You taught me that I was beneath everyone else and that I was born inferior to others. You gave me a sense of self-doubt and low self-esteem, as you reminded me of my subterranean place on this earth. While under your spell, I retrieved to a refuge and allowed you to build a wall around me…squeezing everybody out, except you.
That was six years ago. I am proud to say that I have seen through your lies of inferiority. Thanks to God, I now see that I am not who you say I am, but who He says I am. Which is loved and flawless, Solomon 4:7.
2016 was my breakout year to officially leave your fort of falsehood and step out on the waters of truth. In being chained by you, I lost myself. But in escaping from you, I found myself and a confidence that says, “I am good enough.”
Goodbye, insecurity. I leave you in 2016. Your chapter in my life is over. I will never forget you or the painful lessons I learned. As I start 2017, I will walk will my head high, knowing that I am a superior, not inferior being.
[ My name is Viv, and I love Jesus, my family, reading/writing, baking and applying lipstick. My ultimate goal in life is to spread God's love and serve others. Recently I started my blog called, Anomalous Darlings, where I hope to encourage others and share my life's experiences as a young adult Christian.]
Dear Art Gallery:
How can I begin this difficult goodbye? If you were just a building with lots of lovely local art hanging on the walls, perhaps it would be easier to say adios. If you hadn’t been such an important part of my life these past four and a half years, if you hadn’t taught me, an artist-turned-gallery owner, how to be a half-decent business woman, if you hadn’t introduced me to so many wonderful, generous and talented artists, a few of who have become such special friends, perhaps letting go would be much easier.
The parting is hard for many because you were a unique place in this small, southern California town — a place that offered so much to the community. You were a hub for creative spirits, offering art classes, music, comedy shows, art lectures, and so much more almost every day of the week. You were a support group to so many artists. You were born from a need to have such a space that nurtured the painters, the musicians, the dreamers, and the poets.
Who could forget how we worked endlessly to make you the beloved place that you have become? I, especially, worked day and night to make you a success. If I was not with you, I was thinking, breathing, and dreaming of you. I would lay awake at night trying to come up with creative ways to make you reach your fullest potential. Yes, even the idea of adding a wine and beer lounge to your awesome offerings was born of relentless brainstorming, sleepless nights and hard work. What other art gallery could offer wine tastings, fundraisers, theatrical events and monthly artist receptions?
Alas, though, you consumed me; mentally, emotionally, financially.
In my preoccupation with you, I lost myself. I let my art studio at home gather dust. My half used tubes of paint became dry and hard. Papers, magazines, and half read books piled up. Without warning, my partner, our pets, and home became a distant second to you. At some point in this past year, I started to realize that my art spirit had also been buried under layers of neglect.
As I write this, there has been an offer on the building I have rented for you since your birth. The new owners want to replace you with a restaurant.
I just don’t have the energy or means to begin you all over again at some other location.
Without a doubt, this is my opportunity to begin focusing on home and family — an opportunity for me to re-awaken the artist soul within.
The parting will not be easy.
I will miss you. I will cherish the memories. I am forever grateful for the experiences and the lessons you have taught me.
I wish you adieu, dear art gallery.
I am ready to begin the next part of my life journey.
I am ready for change and whatever lies ahead.
[ Kait’s formal art training began several years ago, and include The Art Center in Pasadena and The Laguna College of Art and Design, in Laguna Beach, California, where she graduated summa cum laude in 2009 with a degree in Fine Art. Shortly after moving to Vista, a town in north San Diego County, California , Kait co-founded, ArtBeat on Main Street in 2012, a co-op art gallery and boutique. She has been running the gallery as sole owner since the latter part of 2013. ArtBeat On Main Street is a 3800 square foot space and home to over 60 local and regional artists and artisans. It also has a wine lounge and offers a variety of events, classes and workshop. The gallery will close February 2nd, 2017. For more info on ArtBeat On Main Street, please visit www.artbeatonmainstreet.com To see some of Kait’s artwork please visit www.kaitmatthews.com ]
You were an unfortunate person who suffered ill-treatment. As a child, you grew up in a dysfunctional family. You lacked the parental and spiritual guidance needed to live an effective adult life.
The father who was supposed to provide and protect violated you. The mother who was supposed to nurture and love rejected you. It’s unfortunate that you were a victim of sinful conditions growing up.
As a young adult, you suffered violence at the hands of your husband. The physical and mental abuse you endured is unspeakable. It caused you to run and live in fear of an abuser.
The greatest loss suffered was that of your two children. You carried the burden of guilt and shame for having failed them for twenty years.
In spite of this ill-treatment, you have the assurance of God’s saving grace and transforming love. The Lord has rescued you out of the darkness with fear and removed the burdens of guilt and shame.
The Lord has healed those old wounds and gave you His peace. It’s time to say goodbye to the victim identity and story that is keeping you downtrodden in mind.
In the New Year, walk in the victory of Jesus Christ and proclaim the good news of God’s saving grace and transforming love to others.
Walk in the light of Christ and share your testimony of faith with others.
This new story will bring hope and comfort to other oppressed individuals. It will show them how the Lord can rescue you from the darkness and heal a broken heart.
Walking in the light of Christ you were able to let go of the anger, bitterness, and hatred for past abuses. You don’t need to continue living as a victim.
God has given you victory in Christ Jesus. Go forward in the New Year and proclaim to others all of the glorious things the Lord has done for you. By His stripes you have been healed and given a new life in Christ.
Linda M Carleton