A Letter To My "17 Year Old" Self

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I saw this image today on Facebook and it kicked up something inside. What would I say to my 17 year old self? I responded to the post by typing "this too shall pass" because when thinking of my life at that age of 17, that is the first thing that popped into my head.  

I suspected if I really sat down and thought about it, it would be a lot more than 4 words.

To be honest, I haven't thought about her in a while. I think I pushed her back into the recesses of my mind, locked away. I'm not sure why and at this point it doesn't even matter, but today I'm feeling compelled to take her out to tell her a few things. 

Letter writing has always been cathartic for me so I thought I would take the time to sit down and write my "17 year old self" a letter. It's been a long time coming.... 

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Dear Jennifer,

The first thing I want to say to you is thank you. You don't know where we've ended up, you and I, but I do and I am grateful. We wouldn't be here had it not been for your determination to find another way to live. 

I also want to acknowledge your wounds. I wish I could show you how those wounds will ultimately be transformed into the wisdom that gets us out of this mess and into a new life. I want to assure you that we will get there and there is going to come a time when you will be grateful to wake up each day. I know there are days for you when it is hard to wake up. 

I want you to know that everything that you will ever need is already inside you. It has always been there, and one day you will understand that you don't have to use your body to find it in others. I know that through abuse, this is what you've learned. You don't understand this yet, but I do. I promise you, we will learn another way. 

I know right now that you are confused. You've been taught that love means violnce and you believe that others will change if you could just be "good enough" . You've let yourself be shoved, hit, spit on, and cursed at to prove your worth and there are times you're spirit feels broken. Please take heart, your Spirit is resilient and can't be broken and you will learn that you have always been "good". It is how you were created and nothing can change that.  

I also kow that Love scares you right because you've learned that when you love someone they either die, or leave, or let you down. I know how hard you become on yourself because despite all this, you Love anyway. I know you wish your heart would harden and stop letting people in. Understand that your ability to keep your Heart open, to continue to believe in love, even when you don't really know what it looks like, will be our greatest asset.  

Please know that although your life is about to become much harder, you will get through. There will be times when you want to give up. You've already come close. Remember that time when we were 15, puking liquid charcoal in the hospital, and thinking about how badly we wanted to live? Hold on to that will and remember that you were built for this.  

 Now let's get to Willie and Khalil,your babies. Willie is 3 years old and Khalil is 1. I need you to hear that you are doing the best you can with the knowledge you have right now. No one has told you that lately, but you are. I want to assure you that they will be alright. You will end up doing the work needed to make sure that their story is a bit different than yours. Their will be parts of the story that parallel, but they won't play out the same, because acknowledging and healing yor wounds will make it possible for you to be present and bear witness to the healing of theirs.   As I end this letter I want you to know that I am honored to have you as part of my story. You are stronger, wiser and more capable than you ever dreamed. 

Love , 

Your "37 year old" Self