Dear Teen Me;
I’d love to tell you that everything works out the way you’re hoping it will. That your parents will pull it together and That Boy, (you know the one I’m talking about) will marry you one day and you’ll live happily ever after. But instead, Dad won’t be able to stop drinking until after your parent’s marriage is shredded to painful bits. Don’t expect more from him than he’s able to give. I realize you see him as this powerful, great and mighty being but he is only a man. He will do his absolute best, but he has his own demons to battle and he will disappoint you again and again. Know that over time his alcoholism will lose its power to hurt you. And remember you always, every-second-of-every-moment-of-every-da
About That Boy. I know it seems the two of you are meant to be together and that your love for him is so strong it will consume you in the most epic love story of all time. A love story destined to have a happy ending that shall eclipse all happy endings. Well, so sorry, but he is about to break your heart with indifference and it is going to hurt so much you will feel like you can’t breathe for weeks. You will cry many tears for That Boy. And the next one. And the one after that, too. You will date guys who don’t deserve you and who treat you badly and who do not value the Huge Love you offer. I wish I could tell you to be careful, to stop falling in love so willingly over and over, protect yourself, keep your heart safe. But you'll never stop believing in love and here’s the thing; those awful, horrible degrading relationships with undeserving asshats lead to the best possible outcome. Wisdom comes painfully, but it does come. You will recognize your husband right away. You’ll see all those things in him that you learned you could not live without. You’ll know after one (long!) conversation that he’s The One and you will be right. You’re gonna kiss a lot of frogs, but pucker-up and get to it sweetheart, there’s a true prince standing at the end of that line.
And now, about your weight. You felt a tightening in your gut at that, didn’t you? I could feel it from across the years. I’m not even talking about your actual weight, but rather the significance you place on your weight. You think your whole identity can be distilled down to that number on the scale, but I am writing to tell you it cannot. Your restrictive dieting will only lead to eventual binging and set you down a dark road to an ugly obsession. It will not be easy to find your way back, but you already know something isn’t right. Deep down, you realize that shaky feeling isn’t just ‘what it feels like to get thinner’ – it’s your body’s cry for more nourishment. It isn’t you being strong, it’s your body becoming weak. You are in a gloomy, desperate place and I know you’re upset about your parents and That Boy, but you can’t just stop eating.
Hear this; your lovely body will serve you well in this life. That’s right, I called it lovely. It is healthy and strong and it will bring you great pleasure. You are going to abuse it, starve it and fill it with junk in turns, always trying to trick it into becoming smaller, thinner, less. You’ll turn to purging when your appetite won’t be denied and always, always, no matter what you weigh, for years and years; you will hate it. Despite all this, your body will endure, breathing and beating and carrying you through life. It will even bring forth new life, participating in that creative miracle not once, but twice. I know you’re not into kids, but I promise, these two will be different. These two will be awesome and amazing and will change your reality so profoundly. You think you know what love is. You have no idea. But you will. And the thought of your daughter ever hating her precious body the way you hate yours right now will make you want to scream and wail and howl at the moon in rage. I beg you to let go of the shame you feel for having curves. If I could be there in person I would shake you from your trance, slap those stupid fashion magazines out of your hands and drag you away from the mirror. Nothing interesting ever happens hanging out in your bedroom measuring yourself, mimicking model poses and acting as if anorexia is your friend. Go out and embrace the adventure that is living. Step fully into your life right this moment. Learn to listen to your body’s hungers and needs and ditch the scale. It will never be able to measure a single ounce of your worth.
Continue writing. You are a writer at the core and writing is, for better or worse, a joy that will serve as cheap therapy over the years. Do not measure the value of your words by your level of success. Publishing can be a fox that tries to steal your birds of peace and love of writing. Don’t you ever let it.
Oh, and that level of slovenliness your bedroom reaches? You know the way it drives Mom nuts? Well, picture a whole house that messy. I’m sorry, but you do not outgrow your sloppiness, and every single roommate you have (including your husband) will look at you at some point as the dirty dishes collect and the mounds of laundry grow and the dust-bunnies blow like tumbleweeds and they will ask you what the hell is wrong with you. I advise looking repentant in those instances and trying not to laugh.
Don’t get too caught up trying to be ‘normal’- I’m not entirely convinced there is any such thing. Embrace your uniqueness. Accept that you need a lot of alone time in order to function best but do continue to put yourself out there. Trust in God. Care less what other people think of you and more what you think of yourself. Work hard. Eat well. Keep your sense of humor. Pray often. Exercise. Don’t waste time and energy on worry or regret. Maybe try to at least avoid the unemployed asshats. Forgive quickly. Dream big. Never allow fear to be that thing that stops you. Seek truth. Love freely. Don’t ever quit.
There are many paths to a full and happy life and I promise you will find the (twisty!) one that is all your own.
Love, Future You