Accepting Myself - A Letter from Kasia Malska
(Click on the letters to enlarge)
I am 32 and single again after an over-2-year long relationship which ended last May. Throughout all my adult years, I made marriage and having kids my idol. I had this feeling that the lack of my own family made me a worse woman and human being, so I wasn’t able to be happy and grateful for what [I've received] from God.
I tried so hard to be the way I thought I should be in order to be a good Catholic. I thought it meant to fight my own feelings and weaknesses – because you have to work on yourself, right? I thought it meant that I was not allowed to feel angry, lonely, sad or overwhelmed, because – as a good Catholic – I should be above that. This past spring, I came to the point [where] I had no more energy to try so hard, because the prayers that I had prayed throughout the past two years didn’t come true. I surrendered. For the second time in my life I surrendered to God and for the second time, it turned out to be the best I could do. With His grace, I have learned how to be honest with myself and with Him. Throughout all these years I thought I had to conquer my feelings. Now I know that was a lie.
(Page 2) I don’t have to pretend that I have no feelings anymore because feelings are not bad – feelings are great and they’re God’s gift. I've learned how to understand and accept them and how not to judge myself so harshly. The result is that for the first time in my life there is no grief about my single-hood in my heart. I have never ever felt so free in my life before. When I feel sad or lonely I immediately talk to God about it. Earlier I didn’t include this in my daily prayer and was worrying, crying and feeling hopeless days long. I had no idea that that matters to God. He doesn’t change the circumstances always/immediately, but He changes my point of view and literally takes the sadness away. Life became easier on a daily basis. There are still problems which have to be resolved (sometimes the only thing you need is a one hundred thousand dollars, right?), there are sickness and quarrels, but there is no continuous heartache about them. I’ve learned to live in the here and now, without worrying about the future. After 32-years, I finally understood what it means when God says "Don't worry about tomorrow."
What I’m trying to say is that it’s crucial to know and accept the truth about yourself. It’s tricky, because I thought I knew myself. I knew I was emotional, but I always treated this as a weakness and I didn’t want to be weak or better said – to be considered weak by… God. Accepting and loving yourself can be a long journey, Sisters, but it frees and opens us to God and His grace. We do not take part in any race in our lives - it is not about surviving, it's about living. We are complete because God provides everything we need.
Get to know Kasia
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
My name is Kasia, I’m currently 33 years old and single. I’m a German language and literature graduate and work as a project management officer at a global IT company. After living in Munich, Germany, and Wrocław, Poland I came back to my hometown Poznań, Poland. I’m an ESFJ and my temperament is a melancholy-choleric combination. I’m trying to make my dreams come true right now, so I started to take tap dance classes (it has been my dream since my high school) and travel a little bit.
How does your Catholic faith affect the way you live your day-to-day life?
It does really affect the way I live my life on a daily basis. My faith is my strongest motivation to be a better person for my family, friends, and colleagues. I try to find a moment only for me and God during the day. I understand prayer as an awareness that God is near me in every minute of my day – I’m never alone. I used to be afraid of the future and of all possible dangers that can happen to a single woman in a big city, but now I know that God will provide. I keep telling myself that this is all about fulfilling God’s will and I try to look for it among all the things that happen in my life.
"I used to be afraid of the future and of all possible dangers that can happen to a single woman in a big city, but now I know that God will provide. I keep telling myself that this is all about fulfilling God’s will and I try to look for it among all the things that happen in my life."
What’s the most empowering piece of advice you’ve been given as a Catholic woman?
Last year, I went to confession. There were many people in line and not much time till mass, so the priest didn’t have much time. Yet, he told me something that changed my life forever. In the confessional, I told him that I had to make a decision and I didn't know what to do. He said that I should not only ask for God’s will to be done, but I should also think about what I really want because it really matters. This is significant because my saint patron is St. Catherine of Siena – she teaches that you get to know God by getting to know yourself. I connect these two matters very strongly with each other now.
Tell us about a woman who inspires you. What lessons have you learned from her? How has she influenced your life?
The most inspiring women in my life are my female friends – wives, mothers and single ladies. When I think about "famous” women, I definitely have to mention Oriana Fallaci and St. Catherine of Siena.
Oriana Fallaci had the courage to be herself - she was very ambitious and honest. She wanted to know all about the matters that interested her. She had this classic humanistic education which always impresses me so much. St. Catherine of Siena was also very courageous and did things her own way, while being very feminine at the same time. She teaches us how to be strong women– by finding God and by finding yourself.
What aspect of your life right now do you find the most beautiful? The most challenging?
The most beautiful aspect in my life right now is that I’ve learned how to appreciate my life as a single woman. I've stopped waiting for my life to become "valuable" because I'm beginning to understand it already is. This is also the most challenging thing in my life right now as I'm learning that it is an everyday decision not to fall into despair. I'm learning how to honestly and deeply pray for my struggles. I've told myself that it's is ok to sometimes feel sad because it IS hard to be alone and I have a right to feel overwhelmed. I talk immediately to God about this. And you know what? It turns out He wants to listen, He suffers with me and He doesn’t think there is nothing to be troubled about at the moment I feel that way. My sadness is important to Him and my weakness doesn’t make Him stop loving me.
What virtue do you find yourself valuing most right now?
I would say finding peace in the Lord on daily basis. The world can be very disappointing and depressing, my own life can be very disappointing. However, I try to come back to Jesus and remember that He is risen and He is love.
What’s the best smell in the world to you?
Herbs in the air in the city. That might sound strange, but especially in the summer during warm evenings there is this smell among all the traffic, houses and blocks of flats. I have never ever experienced this outside my hometown (Poznań). It’s so powerful to me because it’s a sign that the nature is always there – no matter the urban architecture and the urban way of life.
Fill in the blank
A typical day in my life looks like…
I get up and make myself ready for work. Getting dressed, make-up and breakfast – in that order. Then, I go to work where I spend the next eight hours of the day. After work, I usually meet my friends, go to the gym, cook or read books. It doesn't sound like a particularly fascinating life, but I made the decision to embrace the little, everyday things with great love so I can really cherish my life.
My favorite quote is...
"Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, come with me." Song of Songs 2:10
I feel most inspired when…
When I can talk with my friends about the things that are important to them. Their stories about their struggles always have the biggest impact on me. How strange that may sound - however, it gives me strength and motivation to cope with my own problems. I’ve learned that you don’t have to be perfect, but it is always nice to try your best.
The Catholic Church is…