I always listen to the song for the episode as I’m writing it just to really allow myself to go back to the emotional place that I’m writing from. I only had to think about the song Little Miss by Sugarland and the ugly crying had already started, but in such a healing, cathartic way.
The idea for this episode came from a recent episode of Ted Lasso where one of the main characters, Rebecca, is about to do something powerful and scary and huge all at once. And she looks in the mirror before heading out the door and she sees the five year old version of herself smiling back at her.
It got me thinking…
What would I want the younger version of myself to know? If I could write a letter to the younger versions of me, what would I say?
Dear five-year-old me, we made it!
Life is a lot different than we ever could imagine and I want you to know that I’m so proud of you and I love you so much for who you are, exactly as you are.
I know right now you’re still learning what normal is, or what it should be and what it’s not. You’ve never known anything different than what you’re experiencing right now – and you’re already showing such beautiful emotional strength and courage. Although you may lose touch with this part of you for a little while, I promise you we will find it again and the journey to get back to the truest version of ourself was worth it.
I love how you refused to wear snow pants in the -20 degree weather here in Canada and stayed stubborn enough until our mom found us a snow dress. I love how you HATED having your hands dirty, but also LOVED playing in the mud and sandbox.
Your dresses would stay perfectly clean, which is impressive little one, but my goodness all that running back and forth in and out of the house to wash your hands was too funny. Thank goodness our mom brought us a bucket of clean water so we could just rinse off right beside our mud pit and keep playing.
Dear ten-year-old me, I know that moving to a new school is scary, especially when you’re quiet and don’t have a single friend at this new place.
I know you wanted to fit in and were so excited when the biggest group of the most well liked girls in your grade asked you to come play with them. But when they asked you to exclude someone else that they didn’t think was “cool enough” I’m so proud of you for not thinking twice about it and going to play with that one girl instead.
Standing up for the underdog and not joining the bullies is something you continue to do despite how much it costs you. I’m proud of you for laying the groundwork for this so we could keep it going later in life when this got harder to do.
Dear fifteen-year-old me, thank you for hiding our sensitive heart from the world for a while. The safe space you were looking for to truly be yourself and to be loved for exactly who you are – tears and all – that safe space is coming.
I know your heart is hurting and I know you think that hurting your body will help you feel better, and I want you to know that it’s okay that you did this. I know you were doing your best.
We learn how to feel our emotions in a different way soon and you won’t have to hide anymore.
I know you feel completely lost, trying your best to suppress all of your emotions as much as possible because they are making other people uncomfortable. I know that pushing all of these emotions down seems like the right decision.
And I know that it’s making you feel even more lost and confused because you think you’re doing everything right, changing yourself to be what other people want you to be. Hiding your true self is the right decision because you don’t have that safe space yet.
But, my dear love, it is going to be so beautiful when you realize that you can create that safe space for yourself. I promise it will be worth the effort it takes to protect this part of us right now.
I also know that hiding and staying out of the spotlight at all costs is something that makes you feel safe right now. But surprise! Not only are we going to feel confident enough to put ourselves in the spotlight on our corner of the internet, we’re also going to share our deepest, darkest secrets for the world to see.
It’s going to be both scary and exciting and you’re going to love it!
Dear twenty-year-old me, you were absolutely right that art college was not the way to go, but (spoiler alert) you found a new creative avenue that you love – like actually love.
I want you to know that I’m so fucking proud of you for not going to art school and trusting your gut. You knew that you leaned into art because you kept getting told you were good at it – not because you liked it enough to make a career out of it.
It was a SUPER brave step to take your life in a completely different direction. I know that you don’t know how to accept compliments right now and you’ve already brushed that off.
But it was that decision that shaped the life we have now, and we couldn’t have done it without you.
Dear twenty-five-year-old me, you are going to get through this.
You are going to find your place in this world.
You are going to find yourself again.
You are going to make it through all of the years of repressed pain, struggle, and self-sabotage. You will come out on the other side, with scars yes, but scars that you don’t feel the need to hide anymore.
You will learn how to trust someone else.
You will learn how to stand up for yourself and speak up for your wants and needs.
You will learn how to love and accept yourself, and you won’t need anyone’s approval anymore.
You will no longer be afraid of or resent your tears. You will learn to love them.
And you will learn how to love yourself.
Dear thirty-year-old me, this betrayal will never have an explanation, and you won’t get closure – but you will get to the point where you don’t need it anymore.
The truth is, the people in your life will come and go either to teach you something or to have you teach them something.
Sometimes you won’t know what the point was, who was teaching who and what that lesson was and although this was one of those times, you will get to a point where you really just won’t care anymore.
You’ll see them in the distance at a mall or an event somewhere and smile, knowing that you can actually wish them well from the bottom of your heart and actually mean it – and not give what they’re thinking a second thought.
Dear thirty-five-year-old me, therapy’s a bitch isn’t it?
I know when you started therapy a few years ago you didn’t want to revisit those traumatic moments, the deep hurts and aches that haven’t seen the light of day for years or even decades.
But you will be so grateful that you trusted in the process.
It’s a good thing you have the skills you do now, though, because in about 6 months you’re really going to need them when life flips itself completely upside down and everything changes on a dime.
You’ll be challenged in ways that you never saw coming, and you’ll have a few pity parties wondering “why me?” – and you’ll find your way forward. I can’t say you’ll get through it because we’re still navigating the situation now a few years later and likely will be for a while yet.
But maybe some things aren’t meant to get through. Maybe some things are meant to join the experience.
I know some people will tell me that I shouldn’t let you know what’s coming six months from now – but I know you, and I know you’d appreciate the heads up.
It’s not going to be easy, but the sooner you let your partner in behind the fear of all of this uncertainty the better. You won’t regret it – in fact, you’ll wish you allowed him in behind the walls you’ve built so much sooner than you did. He will prove that he’s worthy of this trust and he will keep your heart safe.
Just because you’ve only ever handled things like this on your own before doesn’t mean you have to now. Take your time, but not too much time.
Dear forty-year-old me, my goodness I really hope I get to meet you! We’re going to be proud of us, I just know it.
I know you’re only a year and 10ish days away, but the life experiences I’ve had have made me truly understand how much of a privilege aging really is. I really hope that aging is a privilege I get to experience.
Every day I get closer to meeting you, the more and more I feel like mySelf again. Self with a capital S.
I hope that this half-way point for us is the start of when life starts getting really, really exciting. I was going to say I can’t wait to meet you and grab life by the balls – but why do I need to wait one year and 10ish days.
Let’s do this.
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