Dear Younger Me,
I’m so glad I’m not 17 anymore.
This period of my life seems to be heavy on the reflection – for someone who has been overweight as long as I can remember, the prospect of not having that literal and figurative weight carried around with me is both liberating and a little bit scary. My identity is certainly not my weight, and never has been, but there has always been outside sources in my life that have influenced me to believe differently, especially as a child.
This said, though, I feel that it’s time to let all of that go. While I’m losing the literal weight, why not the figurative weight of the trauma from my childhood, too? It’s not doing me any favors to have it so readily accessible to any anxiety that builds up – it’s only hurting me, at this point.
This is Part 1 of 2 – a series I wanted to write to myself, one to my Younger Self (circa age 17) and one to my Older Self (circa age 70), coming on Thursday. There are a lot of resolutions that I was able to make from this, and I encourage you all to try it, too! Not necessarily with your weight, but in general – you’d be surprised what kind of self-reflections begin to pop up!
You’ve spent your life trying to grow while being stuck inside a box too small for you, and you are tired. You’re a fighter, I know you won’t give up, and you’ll keep being angry at the world for everything you’ve been through – as inaccurate and at times, damaging, as that may be, it gets you through some hard times. It’s not the right way to truly learn anything, but your emotions are out of control, and it’s not your fault. The only reality you know is the one you feel, and that reality is one full of injustices and self-deprecation.
I know no one understands right now, and I can’t say that you find someone who does anytime soon. Everything you think you’ve already been through is going to feel like a pin prick by the time you reach your 30’s, but it shapes you. This time, right here, shapes who you become, and despite how unhappy you may feel, or how much anger you have for the rest of the world, you are still a good person, and that will shine through. You don’t see it until you’re older – you just believed everyone who told you that you were your mistakes, but it’s a lie. You have a good heart, even when you make mistakes. You are worth no less on a day when you screw up a hundred times than you are on a day when you manage to be perfect, and your worth does not change based on someone else’s opinion of you.
Mom and Dad have already split up by this time, and the divorce does actually go through. I know it feels like a relief, even if you feel guilty even thinking that right now – it’s okay that you do, because it is. For you, and for Dad. It’s the first step to healing from everything she’s put you through. It gets you away from her constant pressure, and when given the freedom to decide for yourself who you were, you thrive. You begin to understand your own emotions and what they mean, where they came from. It still doesn’t even begin to touch the kinds of hard lessons you’ll learn, particularly over the next few years, but they’re lessons that are invaluable to you later. You and Dad are in for a lot of struggle – financially, emotionally and physically, so brace yourself. It’s hard, but you are both stronger than you could ever even imagine.
I know so much has happened in these last few years that has made it feel like you can’t even make sense of where you are, much less how to get out. Grandma’s death was the beginning of the end, and the loss you felt from that is still rippling with aftershocks – it will be for a long time. After all, you didn’t just lose her, even though that would have been painful enough, it also shattered your family into pieces. Mom and Dad split up, family Christmases stopped – they were too painful without Grandma, and the funeral was the last time you see your cousins. People essentially keep telling you to “get over it” because they don’t understand the depth of that fracture within your family, and the truth is, they never will. You know what this has done to you, don’t listen to them and find your own way through. There is another side, and though that crack probably won’t ever heal (it hasn’t yet), you do make it through it.
Your relationship with mom never gets any better. In fact, it gets worse, if you can imagine that. You let it stand for far too long, let her damage you in so many ways and then one day, the courage to finally, truly cut her out of your life shows itself. Once she’s gone, you truly do begin to heal – you can function without constant thoughts in your mind about her, about what she’s done to you and trying to figure out what’s real and what’s not. You put up with it for far too long, but once she’s gone, she’s gone for good – and you are better off. You can finally begin to feel what it’s like to be without her, and while having her for a mother has never been what you wanted, accepting that she will never be the mother you need – that you will never truly have a mother and that the damage that leaves is irreparable – that’s the hardest part.
You have successes, and you have failures that bring you so low, you don’t think you can ever come up again, but you do. And it makes you strong. And then it makes you really strong. And then you just pretty much become bulletproof. Through all the broken hearts and the projected shame and fear, and loss, and displaced emotions, you do find the light at the other end. And in the end, isn’t that really all that matters? Especially when it makes you a better, stronger person in the process. While it’s not a reason for any of the awful stuff you’ve been through, and will go through, you learn to appreciate the good things in life. Eventually, you find your own saving graces, and you love them with everything you have, because that’s the only way to love anything – you want to love them even bigger than the pain once was. Love must always be louder.
Thus far, this life has taught me so many things, I could fill books. As cliche as it may sound, it really can be summed up in 3 simple words: “It goes on.” And so do you. You’re gonna make it, kid.