An Open Letter to My 11-Year-Old Self on my 46th Birthday

Dear 11 year old me, 

Why are you afraid to embrace the world around you? Why do you continue to live in a shell and protect yourself from pain? When you do not risk rejection, you do not gain anything. 

Try to muster up the courage to raise your hand in class. Does it matter what anyone else thinks of you? No.

You cannot take your eyes off that cute boy sitting across the room. Show him your beauty. Use your voice and charm him. Do you fear a broken heart? A heart that has no wounds is a heart that has not lived. It is ok if this boy doesn’t like you back. There will be other boys. You will survive the pain. It is better to have loved and lost than never have loved before. Live life to the fullest. 

Why are you throwing away your kraft fat-free cheese sandwich and little Debbie brownie? Do you think you do not deserve nourishment? Do you not love your body? Ignore the uncle who called you chubby and broke your self-confidence. Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. Don’t deprive yourself. Feed your body. Feed your soul.

Move that hair away from your eyes so people can see that beautiful face. Look in the mirror and embrace the authentic you. If you do not love yourself, no one will fully love you.

In college, you will learn several life lessons. You will realize that not everyone in this world is a bed of roses. There is manipulation, destruction, and evil. People come in all shapes and sizes. You will attempt to change people who don’t meet your standards. You will see the good in everyone even if there is no good within them. You will be duped. You will be gullible, but you will live a life worth living as you extract life lessons from your pain. 

You will depend on the appraisal of others to feel whole again. You have not healed your trauma from the past. Your experiences with anorexia will shape you. You will have your first experiences of intimacy with men and learn to love your body. You will build strong life long female friendships that will support you in trials, failures, and tribulations.

In your mid 20s, you will marry your true love. He is a man who will live behind a mask of mental illiness for nearly two decades. He will not flourish into his true self until you both learn more life lessons in your 40s. You will give everything to your marriage, his career, and your children to the point where there is nothing left for you. That is when you will come close to losing everything near and dear to you. You will begin to see others for who they truly are. You will either accept those faults or walk away. 

You will suffer loss, pain, and grow from a wounded heart. When this happens, you will wake up from the fog, evolve, and love truly, madly, and deeply. You will have the greatest epiphany of your life as you learn to love yourself. You will love this man like no other. You will understand the fragility of life as you relentlessly fight for the truth. You will save another human life and have the confidence to leverage your pain and failures to seek a more fulfilling life.

You will cherish every moment in the present, as if it is a fleeting moment that passes you by. You will not just survive the carnage, but thrive. You will do magnificent things in this world.