I’ve only written a letter to my past self once before, as part of a blog project way back when I blogged at Geeky Ambiguous Me, which has long since been retired.
Like most, I have a lot of things I could say to younger versions of myself, and sometimes wish there was a way that me now could have actually gotten through to younger me. It could have helped with a lot of trouble, a lot of hurt, and a lot of heartache.
To Tabitha, age 4:
Your sister is about to put her face in her birthday cake. If you don’t want any icing on you, take a step back.
Also, enjoy the rest of the time on the tower your dad built; it’s coming down soon (but it’s okay, another play-set is coming).
Oh, and never lean over the guard-rail of your bunk-bed. There’s a pretty good chance in about a year you’re going to fall off the bunk-bed, head first into your Barbie camper. I’m sorry to tell you this, but that camper will never be fixed.
You’re future self.
To Tabitha, age 6:
I know that life is pretty dark right now. Death and the fear of death are all around you, and you’re terrified. You shouldn’t understand death and darkness at this age, and that is a weight that will never leave your shoulders. But don’t give up. Don’t give up on your step-mom – yes, it is going to take a long time for her to be back to who you remember, but it doesn’t mean she is going to love you any less, or that allowing yourself to be loved means she’ll be taken away. Soon, your siblings are going to be very sick too – the attention they receive is not your parents saying they don’t love you – they do! Don’t hide from the darkness and bury yourself in books, take that darkness head on. You are stronger than you believe and you will defeat this.
Your future self.
To Tabitha, Age 8:
Pogs are going to go out of style pretty quick – don’t waste your money on them. Mom is going to make you put them in a garage sale anyway.
I know you hate shopping, but suck it up and go with your mom (step). She’s looking for ways to connect with you – give her something to connect on, even if it means stepping out of your comfort zone. Besides, that pink you hate? Yeah, you’re going to love it one day. So much, that half your wardrobe will be pink, your wedding shoes will be pink, and if your husband (yes, you get married) were to let you, your car would be pink.
Your future self.
To Tabitha, Age 10:
Do yourself a favour. I know you don’t want to talk to that strange doctor about why you tried to kill yourself, but talk to your parents. Tell them the truth. You need someone to face this trauma with, and you need to make them believe you. You can’t do this alone. You have a heart that loves deeply, but it’s buried underneath a darkness and pain you don’t understand. That darkness isn’t you, that darkness is part of something else. You won’t understand until you are older, but try not to let it consume you.
I know it hurts that you spend every day alone, that people aren’t really interested in being your friend, but it’s okay. That weirdness and geekiness that they all make fun of you for now is going to be the very thing that your friends love about you as an adult.
Keep writing, and don’t give up. One day, that talent will be your livelihood.
Oh, and put away your book during French class. You are allowed to excel at this – embrace it, and show your classmates you are not afraid of succeeding.
Your future self.
To Tabitha, Age 14:
This is the year you are going to start cutting, and make multiple attempts to kill yourself. As I am writing this, the pain and heartache of knowing what you are about to go through is making me cry. I wish that I could give you some magical word to make this go away, to help you skip past this part. But the truth is, this part of your life plays an integral role in who you are going to become.
So here are a few things to get you through:
• Your parents and your siblings don’t hate you. They’re confused and don’t understand. Mental illness is a seriously misunderstood thing at this time and often slips under the radar. Hang on to what little hope you have, even when you think it’s not enough. It will carry you through. And remember, YOU ARE LOVED.
• You don’t need a special spelling of your nickname to make you stand out. It’s Tabi, not Tabbi. Embrace yourself – you don’t have to become someone else to be unique, to be you. You know as well as I do that extra B is just an attempt to fix your failing self-confidence. Trust me when I say it doesn’t work.
• That teacher who ignored the signs that you were dangerously close to killing yourself, who didn’t report that you were a suicide risk? Forget about her. A teacher that has so much distaste for a student that she ignores such blatant signs of danger doesn’t deserve your tears. All she deserves is your pity.
• Don’t change yourself to fit in. The friends who are going to stand beside you are the ones who have never asked you to change, and who don’t ask you to hide in a fantasy with them. They’re the ones who as an adult will still be around.
Your Future Self
To Tabitha, Age 20:
You have a world of possibilities ahead of you right now. You’re a college student, and the world is at your feet. You know now that you are facing a mental illness, though the depths of what it is you won’t find out for a few years yet. College is going to be wonderful, and awful. Forget the boys. Seriously. You’re going to be a lot further ahead if you focus on your schooling and on you. None of those boys (emphasis on boys) are worth it. None of them are the love of your life, and all but one end up breaking your heart and breaking your soul.
Cling to your faith. Even though things get rocky, that’s going to be the one anchor that stops you from going off the deep end.
Listen to your parents; they’re wiser than you think. While they may struggle with understanding you, they believe they are truly looking out for your best interests. If I had listened to them, my life would look very different.
In third year, don’t move in with the people you believe are your best friends. Trust me, you don’t need to go through that.
Give up the drinking, the weed and the smoking. They do nothing to benefit your health, and as much as you believe they’re helping you deal with the darkness and anxiety, all they’re doing is postponing it for a bigger breakdown.
Don’t change yourself to try and impress your classmates and make friends. If they’re going to like you, they’re going to like you for you. If they’re not, there’s nothing you can do about it. Don’t be a sheep and follow, and don’t be afraid to stand out. Your greatest strengths are your biggest differences – embrace them, love them, and be your best self. The longer you try to be who you think they want you to be, the longer it’s going to take you to find yourself again.
And all those guys who are going to start telling you constantly that you’re not worth it because you won’t sleep with them? Forget them. Seriously, they’re just assholes who believe that women owe them, therefore feel it’s their duty to make you feel like shit because you won’t put out. YOUR BODY IS YOUR OWN. Your virginity is yours to give away. Don’t ever let anyone make you feel inferior because you aren’t ready.
To Tabitha, ALL Ages:
Learn to write down the good times, not just the bad. I know when they’re happening, you feel like you’ll remember them forever, but every time things get dark, you’re going to forget them. So remember – remember the camping trips, the mini golf and Disney. Remember times at the cottage, and family game nights. Mom’s theme days throughout the summer, like dog day, and super-hero day, and everything.
When dad tries to teach you something – no matter how disinterested you are – get interested! It will mean the world to him, and one day it will mean the world to you too.
Keep practicing on the SEGA – getting good at it will launch you on your gaming ‘career’, and trust me when I say you end up not half bad. Plus, your mad gaming skills are going to be one of the things that attract your husband.
Your sister and brother are amazing. Seriously. Spend the time getting to know them again.
Love yourself. No matter what state you’re in.
Trust me on that.
Your Future Self