Dear Young Me,
There is a lesson you need to learn young one. Well, actually, a lot of them. You think you are so wise, so much smarter than those who have gone before. Your heart is good, and willing, so I’m going to try to teach you.
Words mean things. They are how we communicate knowledge, and understanding, and feelings. Don’t just let them flow from your head to your mouth thoughtlessly. Remember that time you said the n-word on the school bus, and how utterly ashamed you felt after? And I still feel bad about that, and banned the word from my vocabulary, and my house, and my thoughts. Let love and compassion drive the words you say. Be honest, and honorable in all your communication.
I remember the stories you told, like the one you told about meeting a superstar when you were 14. Just to see if people would believe you, and guess what? They did. Did that make you special? No. It made you a liar. How did you feel when you were found out? Not good, right? You were then known by at least a couple people as a liar. It is only to those people’s credit that no one else ever found out. I have said many times in the last 6 or 7 years, that the Universe will spit out a lie, and it will come back and slap you upside the head. One lie usually leads to another and another, and when the house of cards falls down, it can bury you.
You will meet people who are not uncomfortable with lying, and will tell another and another til there are so many layers of lies covering the original lie that the real truth is obscured for those who can’t see clearly. Endeavor to see clearly. Don’t ignore the red flags that are flying. Trust your gut. If it doesn’t feel right, then it’s not for you. In the words of Maya Angelou, when someone tells you who they are, believe them. The first time. Look how you believed the story about Bruce being in the Pan Am games. Well, he wasn’t. It was a story he made up. Look at the ways his affection ebbed and flowed, never consistent. You knew in your gut you aren’t being treated well, yet, you blew off his bad behavior and made excuses for it.
I want to talk to you about knowing yourself. Make time for introspection. Going through your self-check list honestly and deeply allows you to live more authentically. Do you know what you want from this life, and are you living in such a way as to facilitate your dreams? At the same time, ask yourself: Are you being loving? Willing? Do you listen to others who need to tell their story? Were you compassionate to those who needed it? Were you truthful with your words? Was your anger valid, or misplaced? Were your actions congruent with the person you are, and want to be? Are you learning your lessons, those hard soulful lessons? Are you following through with your intentions, even when the going gets tough?
Since I was once you, I know the answer to these questions. I know that you tended to make other’s dreams your own quite often, assisting them in achieving their dreams, but never giving yourself the same consideration. Remember when you wanted to go back to school, and get your teaching degree. And remember how Bruce made you feel, as if you were abandoning him and his dreams? So you didn’t go, instead you filled an obligation he had thrust on you, to do for him. Never, not once, does he ask you what you want, and try to assist you. And you just went along with him, thinking it was your duty, or oblgation as his wife, or out of fear of breaking the marriage or the family? It wasn’t A red flag, it was many. In fact there is, most of the time, one or more of them flying, and you, running from the obligation to yourself, turning a blind eye to them. You are non-confrontational ALL the time, even when it’s necessary.
You have to be courageous. You have to be willing to put yourself out there, and not be fearful of the repercussions. Or inspite of your fear of the repercussions. Because, they will be what they will be, but if you are behaving in a manner that honors yourself, your wishes, your desires to be a good person, trust me, that’s where you will go. The only way to the other side of a lot of things, is through them. Like right through the middle of them. Not around, not above, not below. Not waiting til a better time, not giving in, not pushing them under the rug and pretending you don’t need to deal with it. Just pull up your big girl panties, and push through. You spend so much time in fear, young one, and fear is the longest, hardest, and least rewarding of all.
I wish I’d done this at your age. I wish I’d been more thoughtful, more cognizant, more able to discern truth from lies. Strong enough to walk away when the ending was apparent. Strong enough to walk toward life, and love, away from anger and disappointment. I wish I’d loved myself more. By that I mean that I wish I’d behaved in ways that honored myself more. I wish I’d shown up, and allowed myself to be seen and heard, and not allowed myself to be intimidated by other people. Everything I am telling you are things I wish I’d done at your age.
You don’t want to get old and have a lot of regrets. Regrets are a weight on us, on our souls and our psyche. We all have them, but you have to try to keep them to a minimum. You don’t want to get to my age, and suddenly realize that most of your life was lived under a canopy of fear, not love.
But now I’m going to tell you something that seems opposite. You WILL go through some difficult times. You will have days you want to lay down and cry, remove yourself from the world. Days where you don’t know what to do, where confusion is the order of the day. You will choose badly and have to undo the damage. We believe lies. We gossip. We make up stories and get caught, like the lie you told Mom where you were that time in high school. We all make mistakes. Every single one of us.
But a mistake is only a mistake if there’s no lesson learned. So, I want you to always, when you go through a difficult minute, hour, day, month, or year, become proactive and think about what YOU could have done to make it different. How you could have reacted differently to create a different outcome. What lesson can you learn from this mistake? Even though there are some people who choose use mistakes as a way of holding us down, convincing us that we are not worthy of anything good, always know that you are worthy of love and belonging. Believe in yourself, and live in such a way that you honor yourself.
I know you better than anyone. And I can say, You are enough. You are so enough. It’s unbelievable how enough you are.