Dear Love Warrior: Here’s What You Need to Know to About Life — It’s Hard.

(The following is a “love letter” I wrote to myself at various points in my life after interviewing Glennon Doyle Melton, author of the New York Times bestseller and Oprah’s Book Club pick — Love Warrior. Gratitude to The Center for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt for hosting the community event and arranging our interview.)

Dear Love Warrior:

Hang in there. You are so young and innocent. You’re just starting to learn how cruel the world can be. You’re figuring out that you need to be small and quiet and pretty in order to be good. You’re afraid. You just want to be a good girl, well-liked and well-loved. Listen to me, Love Warrior, you are already a good girl exactly as you are right now. Every day. No matter what. Your body is beautiful because it’s yours, not because of curves, boobs, or flawless skin. Eat. Eat everything. Have fun. Beware of the poisons that show up in your life. They are not good for you. When you see them, free yourself from their grip. Do not stay small and quiet. Grow. Become who you are meant to be. Be loud when you need to be loud. Get angry when you need to get angry. Become big.

Dear Love Warrior:

Walk toward your pain. You’re doing the best you can, but you’re running away again. You’re trying to escape, but you can’t. Pain is an inevitable part of life and no amount of emotional eating or dieting or punishing exercise truly takes away the pain. You say “But… but… health!” I know this is not a true mind and body health and deep down you do too. This is a poison. But I have good news, Love Warrior, the truth is in the pain. Healing is in the pain. Wisdom is in the pain. What feels like your weakness now will transform into your strength if you just let yourself feel your pain. You can do hard things.

Dear Love Warrior:

Breathe. You did the work, You thought it would get easier if you got better. But it’s not easier and you still freak the F* out sometimes! Life is hard, Love Warrior, and anyone who says it isn’t hard is lying. Nobody gets through life unscathed. When it feels like “too much” and you want to reach for your poisons, breathe first. Take deep, full, long, slow, controlled, and free breaths.

What you need most now is a sacred pause — a second to connect to your power, your spirit, your God. The word spirit literally means breath. Go to your breath any time you need it. No matter how anxious, overwhelmed, or lost you feel all the effort you have put into healing has proven one thing— you can handle it. You can handle it even when you feel like you can’t. Go back to your breath and then do the next right thing. Don’t worry about anything else beyond the next right thing.

Writing these mini love letters was deeply therapeutic, like little apologies to myself; a chance to right my wrongs and reinforce how far I have come; a reminder of what really matters to me. For the first letter, I was about 12 years old. Second letter I was in my late 20’s. Third letter was present time. Write your own love letters! Do a quick one right now in the comments below.

I infused Glennon’s wisdom from our interview throughout these letters to myself. I didn’t live her experiences. I can only relate to her life lessons through my own. I realized we are all more alike than we imagine. I think that’s why she wants to bring diverse women together through the 6-city Together Tour.

I can’t possibly do Love Warrior justice in a single blog post. You have to “go there” yourself. I hope reading her book is helpful to you too.

The Center for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt (CED), offers a comprehensive continuum of treatment services for people with eating disorders. If you are concerned that you, a friend, or family member may have an eating disorder, please click here to participate in a brief online assessment.