11 Oct A letter of self-love by Tshegofatso Senne
Welcome to the latest piece in our ongoing series on 10and5 where we explore the notion of radical self-love through letters written by South African womxn to themselves. In part four, writer, podcast co-host, and blogger Tshegofatso Senne writes herself a letter that takes the form of an apology, a personal motivation, and a quiet revolution.
Taking a page out of dream hampton’s quote, your journey to self-love seems to have taken the anatomy of an apology.
- I’m sorry
You’ve been living for what feels like years with anxiety, chest pains that felt exaggerated in primary school and turned into full blown, crying-for-reasons-you-were-clueless-of by the time you were in high school, and you’re still here. You still become that mess more often than you’d like and this is in no way your own fault. The relationship you’ve had with yourself has always been complex, and the love you gave yourself tough, and I’m sorry. It’s time you learnt not to take this as a loss, time for you to hold yourself a little tighter and love yourself a little gentler. It’s time for some kindness, baby.
- Here is my understanding of how I hurt you
You’ve taken sneering words of others far too seriously, held them too close to you and allowed those outside of you to shape the relationship you have with yourself. It’s time that stopped. You sobbed at an article sent to you by a warm-hearted colleague, in awe at how Sarah Schuster’s words unexpectedly hit way too close to your heart. You took refuge in being constantly busy in an effort to reach perfection. It often was not good enough. When would you allow yourself to be happy, baby? When would you find peace, both within yourself and for yourself? When would you be deliberate in tending to yourself, in understanding the layers you are made up of? When would you allow yourself to feel vulnerable, ask for help and be comfortable in being the one who needed a shoulder to cry on? When would you learn to forgive yourself? When would you stop self-sabotaging?
- I will never do this again
Time for some love, baby. It’s time to treat yourself with as much love as you do your herbs and plants. It’s time to let yourself enjoy the sun, and nourish yourself when you feel dry. It’s time to allow others in, ask and accept help when you need it.
You’re an incredible person, friend and older sister. Forgive yourself. You are not a fraud, not are you an imposter, things did not come easily for you and it’s time saying that, in some effort to dim your own hard work, came to a standstill. Allow yourself a need for positive reassurance, you are not needy. You will not let people down and, no, you will not mess things up. And when you do mess things up, it’s time you accepted it as a singular incident rather than a scourge on your character. Give more of and learn to take compliments and positive feedback when it’s offered to you. Continue to find things to do that make you happy and relaxed. Journal more, light more incense, read for pleasure more, take longer baths, eat all the things, have sex, exfoliate and moisturise. Sleep. Then sleep some more. Learn to love and admire your body for all the glory it is. Walk around naked and in front of mirrors. Fap. Then fap some more. Care to your plants, meditate and exercise when you can. Eat, fap and sleep, once again.
Continue to find succour, love and affirmation in the words others have offered.
Be the womxn Hana Riaz spoke of, the one filled with thunder. Take Lebo Mashile’s words into your mouth and become the one that has the sun shine for her, the one with the sun as a loyal lover. Find solace in Sandra Cisneros’ advices and live for your own approval, discover your own powers, address your pain and make those attempts at transforming the darkness that lives within you into light. Walk inside yourself, as offered by Rainer Maria Rilke. Remember the utterings of Napo Masheane by carrying purpose in your bones. Most importantly, begin to fall in love with the person inside of you, the person you’ve become, because you’ve fought hard to become her – thank you Kaci Diane and Hafiz.
You are as powerful as you are beautiful and you are as human as you are inspiring. As you are.
‘I love myself’
– Nayyirah Waheed
And I love you, baby. Always.
Want more letters of self-love? Head over here.
Images by Nikki Zakas and .gifs by Jonny Smith.