Letter To My Former Self: One Year Ago
One year ago this week, I was in New York, on vacation with the love of my life. We broke up after the Radiohead show. I was broken and sad on my birthday 3 days later.
On this birthday, I wrote myself a letter.
I know you are in pain. I know you are confused. Angry. You have every right to feel this way. Don’t forget that. You are unsure of what to do. How to even operate day by day. I am so sorry. You won’t believe what is going to happen next, so you’ll just have to trust me on this one.
First, you are going to be in a complete fog. It is going to be hard to simply exist in the waking hours without screaming or crying. BTW, there are going to be many waking hours, so you better accept that as your new norm for now. Your work will suffer. Your relationships are going to be strained. Even though there has been no reason to doubt those closest to you, you will trust no one because you have been betrayed by the one person you trusted implicitly and without condition. Lean on these people. They are going to be your life savers…and so are you. More on that in a minute.
You make it through the first phase with a nice concoction of every day crying, casual sex, drinking, and the constant need to be in the presence of another human in any form. You won’t regret this time. Don’t underestimate the power of giving yourself what you need when you need it. You’re going to make new friends during this time that will change your life. They are going to be exactly what you need, when you needed it. Fuck what everyone else thinks you should be doing.
You might make a few mistakes along the way. Who cares? Just take care that you learn from them and try and reduce the collateral damage. You are not perfect, neither is anyone else, and it’s ok. You’ll learn this from one of those people you just met, BTW.
Next up…ANGER! You will reach an anger that you never knew yourself to be capable of. It’s ok. This is your fuel when you can’t do it anymore. Accept it as normal for a minute. Breath. Let the anger dry your tears so you can catch your breath. You’ll let go of this when you are ready. Brace yourself, it might be a while. A word of caution during this time- careful not to act on it. Live it, breath it, drink it in, but don’t do anything you might regret later. You’re not going to listen to me on this one, I just know it.
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room now. I am so sorry to say that you will find yourself not wanting to go on. Once the haze clears and some time has passed and you truly accept what has happened, it may seem to be too much. For some odd reason, you are going to think that no one cares about you. You might even want to kill yourself out of revenge or to cause pain. Yes, I know how that sounds. But I am just being brutally honest. This isn’t you. Hang on. You are about to transform. You’re never going to see what is to come.
Sounds awful, doesn’t it? It really is. It’s hard to put into words just how painful this process is going to be for you. Lucky for us, you are an optimist at heart and a true survivor. I hate that word survivor. You persist! Yes, that is much better. Nevertheless, you persist. You work hard on yourself, hate the idea of being pitied, and try every day to be good to yourself. You have a stubborn pride underneath all this that won’t allow you to shrink back into oblivion. You might be able to inspire someone through this experience. You’ve turned a corner.
You are going to gain a lot this year. You are going to reconnect with old friends in new ways. They cared about you all along. You are going to make a bond with a new friend so fast and so powerful that it will defy logic. You are going to experience acquaintances coming forward to express sincere concern. They are going to tell you that they love you, and you will see that it’s true. You might have a few strangers say some stupid things, but don’t worry- you’ll laugh at this later and feel superior that you don’t do that shit.
Your core group just got more like a LA gang. Dedicated. These are the people you can never thank enough. They really know you. They accept you in whatever form your offering. You can’t replace that. Once this is manageable, you will forever hope to be as valuable to them as they have been to you. That is how you will think of it.
You’re going to do things you never thought you would do. Like crying your eyes out at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve at a friend’s wedding because you are so HAPPY to be alive at that moment. That’s a mere 6 months in! Or what about tearing your chest open and baring your suicidal feelings to the world? You will do this first on the internet here and then later to about 10 of your gang and another 90 or so strangers! You will ride 14 hours one way on a bus to protest in the Women’s March with friends old and new. Your back will hurt, your feet with hurt, and you will learn to sleep sitting up, but it will be nothing compared to the energy and the pride of the experience that you just breathed in, forever a part of you. This is you saving your life.
Finally, there is going to be a time when you have a decision to make in front of you. A decision to go against what you want to do in favor of what you need to do. This is going to come later in the process. Maybe you have an opportunity to seize the one thing you’ve needed all along but have never gotten. Closure, the Holy Grail. All you are going to want is to be in her presence, hoping desperately for words you wish would fall out of her mouth. You gave up the need for answers in lieu of the bigger picture of putting your personal recovery first. You’ll forgive her. You’ll empathize with her. You’ll detach from the relationship that you once had. (Not going to lie, that one will always hurt.) But you will do this for you. I hope you use this as your compass for the rest of your life
In one year’s time, you will be left with a tight network of chosen family. You will get from them the love, fulfilment, adventure, and understanding that you require.
In one year’s time, you will feel deeply compelled to give compassion and understanding to ANYONE going through the same thing.
In one year’s time, you will have a greater capacity for empathy- even for those who have hurt you.
In one year’s time, you will value yourself for who you are. You’ll know there is no limit to who you can be.
In one year’s time, you will be proud.
Live. Forgive. Give back. Persist.