An Open Letter To My Former Self

This is the story of how you became me; all the things that went wrong, and how they somehow made us a better person in the process.

Child you have no idea. Look at you, seven stone something and five foot nothing, head in the clouds. You don’t know that your life has been different from day one, so you get on with it as though it’s normal, until you wake up full of hormones and realisation. 

I want to tell you not to go near that guy. You know the one, the sleazy one you think is the best you’ll ever get. The things he will go on to do to you, and not just you but the people around you, will change lives forever. He will break things inside you that you didn’t know existed, and he will laugh at your anguish. You don’t realise it now, but in seven years time you will still be having flashbacks to that time he threw you down the stairs, that time he held you down, and what he did to you with that glass bottle. You will struggle crossing roads, and you will never have the freedom of driving your own car, all because you were too terrified and controlled and ashamed to seek help.

Still I can’t tell you that you shouldn’t go near him, because not only did you need these experiences to find your goddamn feet and stand on them, to build some kind of assertiveness, you gained something precious from that brutal human being: he helped you make a baby. The baby girl you were blessed with is made entirely of defiance and strength, and little did you know it at the time, but she would be the only thing that kept you going. 

Of course, running off into hiding and getting on with your life wasn’t good enough. You moved on to the next guy that would have you, because every ounce of your self worth was dependent on feeling loved by someone. That man did not love you; not once, for one second. It was not your fault – for four years he fooled not just you but everyone he came into contact with. He was very believable. 

For the second time in her short life, your beautiful daughter saved you, but at the cost of her own innocence. Let me tell you that there is a huge, black void (darker and more silent and more harrowing than the one you induced with opiates) in your early twenties. It felt like your soul had been ripped out and set alight before your eyes. It felt like you had failed everyone who ever believed in you; like your existence was hurting more people than it was helping.

Let me also tell you that you, somehow, you harnessed all of that hurt and guilt and shame and anger, every time you had ever felt ‘less than’, and you put it all to work. You picked up your broken pieces, not flinching when they sliced your hands, wrists, heart, and you put them back together. You poured every ounce of pain into carrying on, and that is when you became me. We learned how to love ourself, protect ourself, respect ourself. We learned what’s important in life, and where we’re headed to. We survived. 

So well done, child. I’m proud. I’m proud of how well you played the shitty cards that life dealt you. I’ll take it from here.

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