Tag Archives: letter

Letter to My 16-year-old Self

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Dear 16-year-old me,

You’ve already gone through some hell, & right now, you’re trying to cover up the heartache. I know. It’s ok. Things happened. The people who were supposed to treasure & protect you, well, they failed. It wasn’t your fault. It was theirs. Don’t let it define you, b/c you’re so much more than any of those things.

And that feeling you keep having, that desire to be part of nature, listen to it. It’s legitimate, it’s real, it’s worthy. And so are you. You were made beautiful. You were given a light that shines through your darkness. Don’t let anyone snuff it out.

Oh, the boys. I promise you, their opinions aren’t worth even half what you think. What happened to you 7 years ago, that thing you don’t ever allow yourself to remember, it changed your perceptions. It made you think that a boy’s opinion mattered. It defined you. It stole from you, your family, relationships, self-worth, & dreams. It wasn’t your fault, & it really is as bad as you think. Deal with it now. Remember it, feel the anger & pain, talk about it with your therapist. I promise that nothing bad will come of talking about it. You will cry & rail & break down, but you will heal so much faster, allowing you to recapture your dreams & let go of the fear that haunts you.

Don’t let your mother’s disregard stop you from pursuing your dreams. Fight for them. Her problems do not have to be yours. Some day you’ll understand what’s wrong with her, & you’ll be able to forgive her.

And whatever you do, don’t cut your dad out of your life. I know he scares you. I know you don’t understand him. But I also know that he loves you so very much. He will die before you’re ready, & unexpectedly, at that. And your heart will break, b/c no matter everything that’s happened, he’s still your daddy. Let the hate go. It will poison you & steal your light, your love.

The truth is that your parents are afraid. Your light intimidates them, casting out shadows they hide in, unintentionally illuminating truths they don’t want to see. You are their mirror, & they fear you doing what they’ve done. They struggle to see you as you are, free of their self-imposed filters. They are wounded & have wounded you without knowing. They will grieve this. Do not punish them. Forgive them. Heal.

Try harder. Do your homework. Help around the house cheerfully. Be home by curfew. In only a few years, you’ll be free. If you can learn how to discipline yourself  now, you’ll succeed when you leave. Learn how to make a budget & manage your little income. This will save you a huge lesson & tons of money when you’re 18. Go to college, & try harder. If you don’t, you will find yourself in your 30s with no degree & few options.

Finish what you start. No matter how insignificant. If you can discipline yourself to finish things now, you will be able to look back  on it with self-satisfaction. If it matters to you, then it matters, period. And it is worth finishing.

Worry less about what others think of you & worry more about what you think of yourself. You’ll have to live with yourself. They won’t. And they probably won’t be around in 5 years to have an opinion anyway. Don’t live for them.

Listen to your gut. It’s a lesson you’ll learn eventually anyway, but it will save you so much grief if you can learn it sooner. You can trust yourself, young though you are. Despite what others say, your youth is not a handicap. You are trustworthy & intelligent. You’ll still make mistakes, but you’ll make fewer of them & learn more quickly in the process.

You are worthy of love. You don’t have to earn it. You do not have to be someone or something you’re not to have it. You do not have to compromise your values or beliefs or your very self to deserve it. You are already loved by your Maker, although you probably won’t really grasp what kind of love that is until you have children.

And you will have children. Two amazing, beautiful girls who will benefit from all the things you have gone through. You will be better able to protect them, love them, & cherish them b/c of your past. But learn from it first, so you’ll be ready. These girls will completely alter your view of your life.

Throw the damn cigarettes away. You don’t even like them. They will take over your life & leave you feeling guilty & ashamed. Save the drinking for later. Otherwise, your 21st birthday will be kinda lame. Go ahead & smoke pot when you’re offered it at 17, tho. That’s the only one you won’t regret.

Don’t do the Lupron treatment!!! You’ll understand when you get there.

Save your virginity. It is valuable, & your heart will crack if you give it to someone you don’t love with all you have. Remember, you are worth loving. You don’t have to sell yourself out.

You’re not fat, no matter what your parents say. You have an amazing body that can do amazing things. Dance. Your body loves it, & your soul thrives on it. Focus your energy into creating what is beautiful. Your body will respond to & exceed the challenge, & you will be amazed. Try belly dancing. You have a natural affinity for the sensual. This is not wrong. It is a gift that was given to you from birth. Use it wisely.

Be kind. Do not make fun of others or worry what others will think of you. Just be kind. Stand up for the underdog. You have a passion for justice. Do not let it be smothered by your need for acceptance.

Love openly. Love freely. Love everyone. You understand them, better than most. Learn how to channel your empathy, otherwise your heart will grow hard. If you allow that to happen, you will lose a large part of who you are. And you will miss yourself.

You will meet a man. I won’t tell you when, b/c I don’t want you to focus on it. I just want you to know that it will happen. And you will bring him hope. Tread carefully. He’s a beautiful, f’d up man. You will recognize him instantly, & he’ll own your heart. Love him. Take care of him. But see him for who he really is, not who he could be. Accept his flaws & forgive him. Be real. And be honest & up front with your demands & expectations. He will rise to them, if only he knows them. But don’t expect too much. He’s only a man. He’s your other half, & your souls knew each other before you met. Wait for him. He’ll make you his.

But more important than anything else I’ve said here, please love yourself now. Not what you’ll be, not what you can do, just for who you are right now. The beautiful, loving, funny, busy girl who’s dreaming big, impossible dreams. This confusion you’re lost in will pass, & you’ll remain. Sift through the influences, & toss out the bad advice. Whatever does not resonate with your spirit is not worth holding onto.

Your family has hurt & betrayed you. You’re still here. The church has failed you. God is still here. Your friends will come & go. There are a few who will always be here. Cling to these truths. You are beautiful. You are loved. You are worthy. So be at peace with your present, & look with joy to your future. It’s going to be amazing.

Love, Me (age 31 years & 11 months)

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To the New First-Time Mommies

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Dear New Mommy,

Today I’ve been thinking back to when my eldest child was newborn & all the helpful (& less-than-helpful) advice people would give me.

Quite frankly, I’ve forgotten most of it, which is probably just as well.

But there’s one thing I remember…& I remember it crystal clearly.

One day at some gathering of people from our church, a lady I knew (& still know) commented on what she considered to be my over-protectiveness of my newborn child. She laughed at me and told me that I was cute & funny (read “silly”) & would “get over it” with my second child. I was as taken aback by her callous comment as I was embarrassed for being “That Mom.”

Was I really so over-protective? Was it wrong for me to want my first & only child in my sight & presence as much as possible? Was the risk of a simple cold really worth demanding people wash their hands before holding my precious baby? Was the seizing of my heart whenever I saw her in a potentially dangerous situation (from my “over-protective” perspective) something that I should have better control over? Was I being silly?

As a new mom, you may have already been told something similar. If you haven’t yet, you will. It’s practically a rite-of-passage, I think. And it doesn’t always come from the cold, condescending acquaintance. I have friends who’ve heard it from their close friends, their in-laws, other family members, even their own mothers.

It’s as if being a new mommy to this incredible creature means you’re suddenly open to being condescended to & having every natural, protective instinct questioned or ridiculed.

I just wanted to tell you that, no, it doesn’t.

I just wanted to encourage you to keep listening to your instincts. You’re doing a good job.

Right now you’re starting a journey that, from what I can tell, has no end. The worry & concern & wanting your baby with you & need to protect. I’m a few years into it now, & it hasn’t gotten any easier.

In fact, it’s gotten harder! Because now that little baby who only went where I took her, who only went with whomever I gave her, has suddenly got her own agenda. SHE’S the one ready to take the world onto her skinny little shoulders without a second thought to the heart attack she’s giving her mother.

I’ve since added Baby #2 to the mix, & yes, that lady from my church was right…to some degree. But in some other ways she was wrong.

I’m still quite focused on my baby’s safety, but my natural instinct is tempered by my increased experience.

And that’s kinda how it works, you know?

With everything.

It’s so easy for mothers to condescend to those they see as “less than” them. But you’re not “less than.” You’re just new. And that’s beautiful & exciting &, quite simply, the bees knees!

Yes, if you end up with more children, it will probably be a little easier with each one. You’ll probably panic less. You’ll probably relinquish more control. At least in some areas.

But this new little one you’ve got? Well, honestly? She’s your test drive. She’s your “starter pack.” She’s the one with whom you earn your wings.

You’re learning as much, if not more, from her as she’s learning from you. Things that will make parenting the next precious baby just a tad easier. (Breastfeeding is a classic example of this in my life.)

And because of that, it’s quite possible you’ll always love her a little “differently” than the others. Not more. Just different. Because she’s your first.

Maybe it won’t ring true for you, but I know it’s true for me anyway.

So feel free to ignore all those other mommies out there who might scoff at your “over-protectiveness.”

They’re probably not really rooting for you, but there are plenty of other mommies who are. Surround yourself with those.

Keep your head up, & keep listening to your instincts. You’re doing just fine.