Wednesday, December 23, 2015

A Letter To My Younger Self

Dear Deb,

You're only twenty years old and I'm sure you think you know it all but you don't sweetie.  Even at fifty-three you still don't have it all figured out but you are a work in progress, always. 

Let's start off with children.  You're going to have a son within the next year.  I know you think a baby is just that, a baby, but a baby is a person.  You are giving birth to a person;  a person who will be affected by your decisions, who will depend on you to love him as he is, who will need patience and guidance and understanding for thirty-one years and counting.  He will have his own personality, his own likes and dislikes, his own issues and some of those issues will be with you.  Having a baby is far bigger than you ever imagined.  What you say and do matters to this little person.  He doesn't understand that you're tired or scared or overwhelmed.  He just knows that he wants to be loved, that he needs to be loved.  Do you best.  You will fail many times but still try to do your best. 

And what does a child need?  A child needs acceptance, affection, attention, appreciation and the space to be themselves.  It's what we all need, including you.  I know you didn't get this from your parents or your family.  It's not their fault, they never got it from their parents either.  I want to tell you now that you are wonderful just as you are.  You are emotional and that will make you a better mother and nurse.  You are often rigid and like to keep your life in order, that will help you to parent your third child, a disabled daughter who needs order to feel safe.  You are more patient than you realize;  it will take you five years to toilet train your disabled daughter but you will succeed.  You have attention deficit but it's not a deficit because it allows you to cook supper and notice what your youngest is getting into as well as carry on a conversation with your middle daughter.  You are hyperactive which will come in handy in caring for three children while your husband is often away working. 

Your sense of humor will carry you through some tough times and there will be tough times, dark times, but they will pass.  Understand that things always change.  I know you like things to stay the same but that is not how the world works.  All things pass, joy, grief, good times, bad times.  They all pass.  Let go of them.  It's okay.  Fear makes you hold onto things but let go of fear too. 

Don't believe everything you think.  Just because you think or believe something, doesn't mean it is true.  Change how you think and you will change how you feel.  Keep writing;  it helps you to sort out how you feel about things.  It doesn't have to make sense, just write everyday.  Find someone you trust to talk to.  When people show you who they are, believe them.  See what is right in front of you, don't look away.  You might not like it but really see how it is, not how you want it to be. 

Your mother was a great one for refusing to deal with reality;  it's how she coped with her life but you don't have to live her life, you can learn better ways of coping with what is.  Most importantly, learn to understand what you actually have control over, only your own thoughts, feelings and actions, nothing more.  You probably want to argue about this one and it will cause you the most grief in your life but I am telling you that I have lived much longer than you and I know it to be true.  I also know that you learn everything the hard way so I imagine it will take you years to learn this skill.

You are awkward and lonely right now.  Your social skills will improve, work on those.  Your shyness will also improve.  The introversion that makes groups of people so hard to deal with is part of who you are, it's okay.  I know you feel envious of others that have tons of friends but that really doesn't work for you.  You need a few close friends.  Find friends who love you as you are. 

Mostly I want you to trust yourself and your gut.  You're a smart, young woman but you often ignore what your gut is telling you.  Love yourself, just as you are.  You don't have to be anything but what you are to be loved.  Not everyone has to like you either.  And for god's sake, speak up.  Tell people what you really think, not what you think they want to hear.  If someone truly loves you they can take it. 

Tell the truth.  I know you lie because you want to avoid conflict and you want to tell others what they want to hear.  Don't do that.  It doesn't work and it always come back to bite you the ass. 

And lastly, listen.  Listen to others.  You don't have to agree with them but listen to them and try to understand where they come from.  Remember everyone is fighting a great battle, not just you. 

With all my love, Deb