“Even though I didn’t start it, the only person who could stop that cycle was myself, and a great way to do that was to picture myself as a little kid when I was being cruel to myself. It’s taken some time, but I’ve definitely been kinder to myself since I learned that. “Georgia Hardstark, Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered (2019)
Oo boy. I have to be totally transparent with you today. I have been sitting in this seat on my porch for about 20 minutes trying to decide if today is the day I choose to tackle this post. I didn’t want to write this one. I still don’t. But there a couple of reasons on why I am choosing to move past that and do it anyway. 1) I am trying to do more of what is terrifying to me. 2) My therapist assigned this to me about three months ago and I have been putting this off for quite some time. 3) I got a horrible stomach ache at the very thought of writing this post which tells me it is likely what I need to write most right now. 4). I was probably never going to write this until I read the quote from Georgia Hardstark above. (If you have not read Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered, do it. Buy the book. You need it.).
The little girl in the photo up there is me. I don’t know how old I was. I don’t know why I had my pants pulled up so high (still do this though). I don’t know why I had so many clips in my hair. None of it matters though. Because this little girl was happy. She was light and if she wanted to wear seventeen clips in her hair, she did and she did not care about what anyone thought. She looked up to people with awe and she was naturally curious. She was obsessed with animals, horses to be specific, but was impartial in the scheme of things. She was in a band called “Bubble Gum Swirl” with the boy across the street, he played drums and she sang. the lyrics they co-wrote were actually pretty damn good. This little girl didn’t have secrets or sadness. She was horrible at sports. She fell right into the role of older sister when the time came. She would fall asleep half way through eating chicken nuggets right at the dinner table. She didn’t know anything about the world yet except for the world her two incredible parents provided for her (thank you, mom and dad–you are still my rocks to this day).
I’m going to tell you how I decide on what to write about every two weeks. It is simple. It’s usually based on what I am feeling most confident in each week, something I have been focusing on, or something I have encountered a couple of times throughout the week or what I feel might be most helpful for others on any given day. But today, I need to be a little selfish. The best way to describe how I am feeling right now is this: “We need to talk”. You know the feeling. You look at your phone and see this, and the contents of your intestines fall to the ground, your heart starts to race and you want to hide. That is what is happening. Here we go.
A Letter to Little Me.
I have to be honest with you, I don’t know where to start. You are so small and soft and stubborn and I don’t know how to begin something like this. There’s a large part of me that feels I have foresaken you and even tried to forget that you ever existed. I’ve always tried to be a version of me that you would be proud of, but to be honest I am not sure I’m doing it. I don’t know how to. I feel I have disconnected myself from you. But it has never been out of anger or resentment. It has only ever been to protect you from the bullshit of what has happened, and to perhaps let you form your opinions on everything else. I believe it is probably out of love, but more likely it is out of shame. I am not who you thought I would be, and I don’t know that ever will be. In fact, being vulnerable to this degree right now makes me want to slam this computer closed and run away (yes, laptops are a thing, you will see).
I need to take time though to apologize to you. All the times I have ever called you stupid, or ugly, or someone who was incapable of receiving love. You are none of those things. You are just learning. You don’t need to be anything specific. You are just fine exactly as you are. You don’t need to fit in with everyone at school. In fact, go with your gut because you’ll be glad that you didn’t want to fit in with them. The truth is, little me, I wouldn’t have changed anything. You’re going to wind up in some messy situations. You will make friends and you will lose them. It will be your fault.You will come pretty close to losing your dad. He will make it, and he will continue to be a superhero for you. Take what he says seriously. Don’t get the credit card. Check the oil. He is right in saying life is nothing but choices. That’s all it ever is. You will fight with your mother a lot. You will realize it’s because you are the same person– deeply passionate about different things. You are just going to have to accept that because once you do, you will understand everything. You will understand why she worries. You will worry too. But she is the only person who will ever understand what worry really is to you. Try to realize this sooner, so you can have more time with her as your friend. Your sister needs you more often than she lets on. Please don’t let her down this time. You will lose your uncle. Treasure the time you have with him. Spend more time with your grandparents. You will lose a lot. You will lose yourself to abuse, and to trauma, and confusion. You will find yourself again, though. You will be angry. It won’t be forever. Your life is going to be one long weird phase. You’ll wish you could pull your skin off at times and hang it up to bask in the sunlight on days when you don’t have energy to get out of bed. This won’t be forever either. Or maybe it will. I don’t know yet.
You will meet so many people who will change your life. It’s a 50/50 split of good and bad. You’ll always learn something, regardless of their intentions. You’ll learn how to differentiate rather quickly, but you’ll always need a little help. You will have nights that you need your parents and they will show up for you at 4:30 in the morning to hold you until you fall asleep. You will have nights that you feel stronger than you have ever felt. There is no formula for either of these things. You will take leaps, and you will fail and you will hate yourself some days and others you will feel like you are made of the sun. You will learn to use humor as your best defense mechanism. You may not ever know how to do life “right” but you will be alright. You will feel as though you have been cheated out of so much, like there was some secret to success that you missed out on while you were distracted by whatever else. You will become cynical and bitter. 25 is going to be the worst year of your life for a multitude of reasons. But 26 will be the best for a multitude of reasons. You’re going to fail (you will fail your road test 6 times before you pass–yes, you were crying the whole time). You will also succeed. Don’t choose failure out of fear of succeeding. You will lose your relationship with God. You will develop a keen intuition that allows for you to connect with energy and environment around you in ways that have shed real light on resilience. Inf act, you will become on of the most resilient people you know. The bottom line is though, try your best not to get caught up in the notion of what you have lost. Because you will gain so much.
You will gain insight. You will become wise beyond your years. By the time you are 27 you will have lived at least three lives or it will feel like that. It’s no wonder you are always exhausted. You will become someone that people look to when they are in need. You will be able to stand on your two feet even when your feet are torn up because you rip at them out of nervousness. You will learn that trust is something to be earned, and that it is not always good to give people the benefit of the doubt. However, when you are able to do this, most of the time people are grateful you did. You will choose to be a warm, loving and kind person in spite of all you have had to endure. Do not confuse this for being weak. You are far from weak. You just choose to show up for people in a warm, genuine way every day because it’s what you would want to receive. You will have to learn to forgive yourself. You also do NOT need to say yes to everything. For the love of sweet baby Jesus, please say no once in a while. You are not responsible for how other people feel about the world or how they feel about you. You will gain an understanding that abuse can appear in many ways, and to get out as soon as something feels wrong. You will be able to help other people heal. You will fight this. But you already know that you are in this world to walk alongside others. You will continue to do everything the hard way. In fact, you sometimes will deliberately choose the hard way while your friends and family shake their heads and then you will come out of it saying you wish you had gone with the easier way. Don’t. Still choose things that challenge you. Choose people who challenge you. Choose people who choose you. Choose. You will learn to take responsibility for your mistakes and there will be ten billion of them probably within just one year so brace yourself for that. Try not to get down on yourself for it though, because no one ever gave you a map for life and you’re doing the best you can. You will never be who you are right now again. That’s okay. Stop trying to be. Water is fluid. You are made up of mostly water. It is okay to change and shift when the tide rolls in. Remain open to this.
You will have many strengths. You will have many shortcomings. They are what makes you who you are in the long run. So embrace them, change in ways that make sense to you, and do your best not to hurt anyone. You will always be learning. You’ll have the opportunity to move to Alexander Street. Do it. You’ll be glad you did. Go see the medium. Understand that the way people feel about you does not define who you are. Your disorders, career, weight, emotions, trauma and abuse. None of this defines who you are. You are still discovering who you are. But you now know for sure it is none of those things. Try to have more faith in yourself. You will get embarrassed. But it is fleeting. Take more leaps and break more rules. But be safe. Ask questions. Learn to be curious again. Don’t just smile and nod. What you have to say is actually important.
I hope somewhere deep down I have made you even a little bit proud. I know you have high standards, and you hold yourself to nearly impossible ones. That might be your OCD or anxiety. Or maybe it’s a learned behavior from being too fearful of messing up. Either way, you will gain control over your OCD, anxiety. You will mess up a lot. It is never as bad as it seems right in that moment. You will learn how to keep yourself in check. Take breaks. Give yourself some kind words once in a while, you deserve them. Try not to get mad at your sister when she copies you, she just loves you. She will wind up being a crucial part of how you come back to finding yourself. Don’t call yourself names. You don’t deserve that. Acknowledge when you have put forth your best effort, and own up to when you know you didn’t. Reduce how much you expect from others. Be patient with yourself. We both know this is not a strength of yours, so really. Be. Patient. Try to be a little more grateful for your days. Show the universe it has done the right thing in helping you out in all the ways it has. You have so much more left to do, little me. I am proud of you so far. But something I have never told you in all the years we have existed is that I love you. It’s hard for us to use this phrase. It’s hard to admit because we are so afraid of loss once the words are out there. But it’s true. I do love you. In spite of everything, you need to know that I love who you are right now and who you are becoming. And you are always becoming.
I am so proud that you didn’t give up and that you continue to wake up every day even when it feels like getting out bed is the biggest accomplishment of the day. You carry so much around with you and none of it is visible. But you deserve to rest once in a while. When people want to help you, let them. Help yourself by letting go when you can. Changing what you can. Being more kind when you can. I know that through everything, you only ever have done the best you could do. It has taken me a long time to realize this. You do not have to be perfect for me to love you. You do not have to be perfect. You deserve the good that comes your way and the bad is not a punishment but a stepping stone. A transition. Learn to love stepping outside of your comfort zone. The reward is much greater. Trust yourself more. Learn boundaries, and admit to your limits. You are brave. You are just fine.
I don’t know what is in store for us now, but I will say 27 years is a long time. And somehow, you’ve made it this far. So keep showing up, you squishy little sun baby.
What would you say to little you? What will it take for you to be able to openly address little you? How will you acknowledge that you were only ever doing the best you could do?