A bridge over a beautiful waterfall

A bridge over a beautiful waterfall
Nature brings magic

Friday, July 6, 2012

A letter to my younger self

Dear 15 year old me,

If only I could tell you.  If I only I could tell you what the next 20 years will bring you.

You will lose someone you love in a terrible car accident, though you don't know you love him yet.  You've only just met him and his sister.  You love being with them because they give you the freedom from the hell that is your current home life and you love their family because they're so open and welcoming.  Keep that love in your heart forever, little one.  These people will love you for your whole life - even after shit hits the fan.

Your mother won't always treat you like shit.  She really does love you, though she can't express it the right way.  Not after what she lived through growing up.  Like you, she's got some undiagnosed mental illness and she hasn't found a way to work through the trauma of her own childhood.  Be grateful she isn't as bad as she was when the older three were kids, though I know she's bad enough to you now.

Don't give up on school.  I know it's hard.  I wish I could tell you how much better things would have been if you'd actually put some effort into your schooling.  Then again, if you were different I suppose we'd never meet Himself and get married.

I know you're depressed a lot, moreso than a normal teenager should be.  Don't worry.  In another year, they'll find a doctor who knows what this is and will get you the help you need.  You're going to rebel, of course, and it's going to come back to haunt you many times over the next 20 years.  But at least you'll have a diagnosis to work with and you will know that there is something wrong with you - and it is treatable.

You will try to take your own life when you lose the boy you're going to grow to love, because at that time you feel he's the only person in the world who loved you - aside from your little sister, who you should stop bullying because of the fact that you're jealous she doesn't get hit by your mom while you do.  You'll resent it at first, but you'll later be grateful to your father for stopping you.  He won't even know that he's saving your life because you'll never tell him or your mom how close you came to ending your own life.

You will love again, only to be betrayed.  But that betrayal will give you the courage to leave everything you know behind and move to Washington.  By doing that, you open yourself up to a new experience - a new life.  You will find yourself both loved and hated by the people around you.  You're different from them, and some will resent you for it.  But you will excel at what you do and you'll make new friends that will remain friends for life.  You will also open yourself up again to love.  You will love a boy who learns to love you back, and eventually you will get married.

You will get the mother you always wanted, only to have her stolen away by cancer.  You will lose everything you love and almost everything you own, and you will once again find yourself in the position of wanting to take your own life.  But again someone who loves you will stop you, even though he is the cause of some of your pain.  You will work through it and become stronger for it.

Over the next 20 years, you will face death, pain, and loss.  You will drop out of college because of illness.  You will spend time in the hospital multiple times due to illness.  You will be on different medications off and on through your life because of illness.  You will gain a new insight into handling your depression and anxiety, and you will learn to smile and laugh again.

There will be negative things in your life, but there will also be joy.  You meet a man you can love and who will love you back.  You will be together for 13 years and married for 10 as of the writing of this letter.  He will be there to back you up.  You will make many new friends and you will start to realize your dream of becoming a published writer.

Throughout everything, there will be one constant: your writing.  You're going to want to quit here soon.  You're going to have that dream punctured for you by your teachers.  Your mother is going to give you one of the rare pieces of good advice and encouragement that she gave us during our teenage years - "No matter what happens, don't stop writing.  Even if your fingers cramp and you're crying tears of blood, don't stop writing."

We will stop writing, but we will never stop dreaming.  And because of your husband, you really take a good, hard look at your dream and realize that maybe, just maybe, it's reachable.  You will meet other writers, people who become good friends, who will encourage you.  You will offer encouragement and praise to them as well, and will learn a lot about the craft from them.

Remember, even as bleak as being a 15 year old in an abusive and dysfunctional family can be, you will have 20 years of life to live and while it won't always be all sunshine and rainbows, it will teach you to be strong.  Keep that in mind and you will be fine.

With much love,
Your 35 year old future self


  1. I don't know what to say except that your post needs a like button. >_>

    1. Thanks! I was having a really rough day with "if I could do it again..." thoughts going through my head. I realized something writing this, though. I don't want to do it all again. While I'm not happy with some of the choices I've made, I'm fascinated by where my life has gone and look forward to seeing where it will go from here.

  2. Wow. Anni. This is powerful. It nearly brought me to tears. I can totally relate and could write the same letter to myself, nearly word for word. Thanks so much for sharing this. I put it on google, facebook and the twitter! With love and an epic internet hug. xo Rach