I love the irony of life. The interconnectedness of us all. That I can be working on a thing and someone else can be thinking on a thing. Even before being prompted by my friend Chris Guillebeau’s blog post There’s A Letter You Need To Write, I had already written a letter this week. It was the kind of vulnerable letter you think about writing - maybe you even start it a few times and wind up crumbling it up or deleting it - but the act of actually getting the words right and then licking the stamp or hitting “Send” feels too daunting. So you put it off. You chicken out. You don’t do it.
But then that person never knows. Misunderstandings propagate. You second guess. The other person misinterprets. You make choices without explaining your actions. Confusion lingers. Opportunity is lost. Regrets ensue.
It’s the stuff of tragedies.
Maybe nothing. Maybe you’ll never get a reply after baring your soul and laying your heart, quivering and naked, on the proverbial line.
Maybe your heart will break. Maybe you’ll be disappointed. Maybe she won’t want what you want. Maybe "he’s just not that into you." Maybe you’ll feel rejected. Ignored. Embarrassed. Foolish. Exposed. Raw.
That could happen.
But it’s just as likely to go the other way. Maybe IT will happen. Confessions. Forgiveness. Healing. Resolution. Reconciliation. Passion. Magic. Miracles. Friendship. Ignition. Love.
As a physician who has watched many patients die, I’m here to tell you that, in the end, people don’t tell you about the deal they closed, the book they published, the big bucks they earned, the exotic travel, or even the visionary movement they started.
On their death bed, people tell you about the letter they never sent.
As I wrote about here and as he wrote in his posthumous memoir Enjoy Every Sandwich, my friend Dr. Lee Lipsenthal spent years saying “Today is a good day to die.” His goal was to live every day as if it might be his last - free of regrets, every truth told, every love expressed, every resentment forgiven. So when he died prematurely, his wish came true. When we gathered at his memorial to celebrate him, it was clear that Lee never wrote a letter he didn’t send.
Expressing your truth is preventative medicine. When you stuff it, when you hide your love or let resentments fester, the body translates this into physical symptoms, a gnawing in your stomach, diarrhea, nausea, back pain, tension in your shoulders, a headache. The body speaks to you in whispers, and if you ignore the whispers and still fail to live your truth, the body begins to yell.
Living your truth is not for the faint of heart. It takes guts. Sometimes, it hurts. But what’s the alternative? Do you want to be that person on her death bed confessing her truth to her doctor?
I didn’t think so.
The person to whom I wrote my letter has yet to respond, so I don’t know how this story will turn out. But I’m super proud of myself for having the courage to write the uncensored version of the letter - and then send it. Even if taking the risk means losing someone I care about, I’ll choose that over keeping my truth bottled up.
Are you brave enough to write that letter?
Now is the time.
Still doing the best I can to be unapologetically ME,
Lissa Rankin, MD: Founder of OwningPink.com, Pink Medicine Revolutionary, motivational speaker, and author of What’s Up Down There? Questions You’d Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend and Encaustic Art: The Complete Guide To Creating Fine Art With Wax.
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