When you reach my age (I’m 42 if you’re wondering) you look back from time to time and wonder if you would have done things differently if you could. There are a lot of things in my life when I look back that I wonder about. That guy that I didn’t get a chance to go out with. Maybe if we had both tried harder to have that date neither of us would have ended up in the disastrous marriages we had. Maybe we still would have who knows. If you could meet your younger self would you tel her (or him) of what was to come or would just wait to experience it again? I thought I would take a moment and write a letter to my younger self at 20 years old.
At this point in your life you think you are ready to take the world by storm. College will be over soon and you can head into the real world of work. The hopes and dreams you have for yourself are huge and I would love to tell you that you reach each and every one of them. The next few years are going to be some of the hardest but know that you will pull through. When daddy gets sick and you are left to help with his care, you will step up to the plate without hesitation. After, when Ma falls apart you will find a strength that you didn’t know you had. Hold on to that strength, you will need it later. Never let it die out.
Sadly, though it will. It will bury itself so deep inside that you will think you are weak. You are not. Why you ask? Because the man that you will think hung the moon and stars will turn out to be the monster of your nightmares. Yet, you will endure. You will not only survive it all, you will thrive. It will take much longer than you ever thought but you will. In fact, you will even accomplish your secret dream that no one ever knew about. No one will ever know but you and it will be through that accomplishment that you will find the strength to walk away and start again.
That single act of defiance that you thought would be the end of you will be the beginning. It will be the moment that the woman you father raised will begin to emerge in a way you never imagine. She will take time to find her way back but rest assured that she will. You will suffer so much hurt and heartache but you will be given a chance to be a mother. Take the chance when it comes, I know that the decision will be difficult. Taking on children that are not your own is a big responsibility. Taking on said children because the man that swore to love you didn’t is an even bigger one. However, they deserve to be happy and healthy. It is something that you will do and do well. You dream of being a mother will only happen through this hurt. While you will lose so much getting to this point, the moment you hold those babies in your arms everything will be worth it. They do have colic and you will spend many nights walking the floor. However, they will love you beyond reason and give you the reason to go on when you can’t.
There will a moment in your future when you lose sight of everything. You will attempt to end it all and though you won’t succeed you will have many months of self-doubt and a long road to recovery. I know hearing that you are shaking your head because there is no way that you would ever do that. However, you do and it was not something that you decided in the heat of the moment. That is how lost you will become, how desperate for some sort of connection you will have. When that moment arrives, know that you will survive and push through. Although I will admit that the moment arrives after an earlier attempt. One that you never shared with anyone yet you stopped before it could get too far. Take the help when it is offered. You will need it. It doesn’t make you weak or less than in any way. Don’t worry about about what others say so much. They won’t be around long enough to matter. They will be the very people that drag you down to that moment in your life. The scars that act leaves you with will be ones that you will proudly wear. They will be scars that will help another in their moment of need.
Be grateful when God doesn’t answer certain prayers. At the time it will seem as though he isn’t listening but know that he knows better than you do. You really don’t need or want things to go the way you pray. Work for you will come in a form that you never expected but you will find that you enjoy it. Sometime just before your forty-second birthday you will begin to have the need to be more creative. Don’t be impulsive (you know you are sometimes!) Take the time to think through what you may want to do and then proceed accordingly. Not everything has to happen right away.
Life won’t always be good. There will be plenty of moments when you see just how ugly life can be. There will be plenty of moments that you question your choices, God’s love and plan for you, along with everything else. You will doubt, your will know fear, heartache, pain, and even abuse. You will go through many things that you swore you would never put yourself through. Never lose hope! Hold onto it even when it seems all the lights have gone out. Your hope, that smallest sliver, will shine like the brightest lighthouse on the darkest nights. That little sliver of hope will be what keeps you going. It will be what gets you through. The hope that reused to be extinguished regardless of how many will try to put it out. You will need it and then one day you won’t. You won’t because that little sliver of hope will become reality.
That was probably one of the hardest things I have ever wrote. I am far from perfect and struggle everyday to be a better person than I was the day before. I have come a long way in the last few years. I don’t suffer with depression the way I once did and many of my other issues are under control.
What would you tell your younger self if you could? Share in the comments advice you would give.