This is to you:
There are so many things I want to say. They are the things I have always wanted to say but I never knew how to to say them, how to tell you, or how to get this message to you. That’s what this letter is about,
There are things I wished I could have told you but I never had the words. I wanted to give you more but I never knew how. I wish I did though. I really do. I wish I could have given you the attention you’ve always deserved (and wanted.)
I wish I could’ve shown you a different life and helped you see things from a different perspective.
I wish I was there more.
I wish I was brave more.
Above all, I wish you had a better time when you were growing up.
You tried though. You always tried. But the harder you tried, the harder life was because you never understood that as much as we want to, we can never fix what is beyond out control. Plus, you were so out of place. You were so uncomfortable. God, this was painful to see.
You were young. Then again, of course, you were young. We were all young then. You were just a kid trying to make sense of everything. I was just a kid too and trying to keep in control.
You wanted to understand why things happened the way they do but nobody ever explained anything.
You felt hushed, shrugged off, and dismissed. You wanted to help; meanwhile, you thought you were the problem.
None of this was true by the way, but all of this was true to you. This is how you saw yourself but I always wished I could have shown you differently.
Meanwhile, all you wanted to do is understand so that you could feel like you were a part of things. You wanted your family to be happy. You wanted to make them smile but nothing ever worked. You wanted them to be proud but you never believed you could ever compete and win. So you gave in before you tried.
You felt like the odd man out. You thought you were the problem. You were the one on the outside looking in. You saw yourself as a burden to all, which is why you wanted to leave or run away. But there was no place to go.
I always understood your frustration.
Too bad nobody else did.
I knew why you acted the way you did.
The sad part is nobody else did.
I get it though . . .
There was no other way for you to voice yourself. So you screamed and you bled. You hurt and you found yourself in trouble. You never wanted to be in trouble. You never asked to feel the way you did. But to you, it seemed as if there was no other way to live.
I remember you. And I say this because you never thought anyone ever noticed. But I did.
I noticed everything because I was there.
You were scared as ever and afraid of every little thing. You were scared to be wrong and petrified to feel like you didn’t fit.
You were terrified to think you were unwanted or unremarkable.
Rejection was your weakness.
You took everything to heart. Everything was so God damned crucial that you could never sit back and relax or be yourself.
It was too much to for you to ask for help. It was too much because to you, help meant there was something wrong with you. And to you, everything was already wrong with you, so why bring light to another problem?
I wish I could have been there more. I wish I could have talked to you and explained things. I wish I could have held you when you were scared and calmed you when you cried.
You were so confused. And I know how much this hurt. No one ever explained anything to you. I get it.
No one ever answered your questions.
Instead, they told you things like, “You’ll understand when you get older.”
You hated that answer. I know you did. You thought this meant you were stupid. You thought you were left out.
You thought they were lying to you or frustrated with you because you thought you were too stupid to understand.
You thought this was you but grownups have their own way of thinking and doing things. I guess sometimes grownups never realize just how childish they can be. (Or mean.)
Besides, what kind of answer is that?
“You’ll understand when you get older.”
What does that kind of answer do for a kid that’s just trying to get it.
You wanted to know why everyone was so uptight. No one has time to play or tell jokes or go fishing. You never knew why you always thought you were in the way. But why? Why did you think this?
I know this was hard on you. I know how you felt. You just wanted to fit. You wanted friends. You wanted to be wanted and to be invited and not just included.
It is hard to understand what I am about to explain but none of the things you believed about yourself were true.
Nevertheless, there you were, always doubting yourself, always thinking the joke was on you, always hoping no one would laugh at your expense, and if they did, hopefully you could find an escape route to beat the shame.
Son, I have news for you. Sometimes the mind is a liar. And we believe these lies. We believe all the crazy things we think about ourselves.
We saw us as awkward back then. We thought we were weak. We thought we were worthless.
We thought we were unlikable and unwanted. We thought we were unremarkable at best, which is why we thought everyone else thought the same thing. We thought there was something wrong with us.
I know when others laughed, you never felt the joke was as funny. You always wondered about this. You wondered was it you . . . Was it me?
When people saw colors, the colors were muted to you. Nothing was ever spectacular; everything was always dulled over., and that was just unfair.
This is where I wished I could have stepped in. I wish I could have redirected your attention someplace else. I wish you would have known your worth. You were beautiful. You have always been beautiful and you always will be too..
Perhaps, maybe if you knew what you were worth, you might not have stayed around the wrong people that did the wrong things. Maybe if you understood your value, you would have walked away long before the bad friendships began.
I wish I could have had the time to sit down and convince you that you were beautiful. You were amazing. You had so much heart. You had the best potential.
I wish there was a way that I could have shown you how smart you are. I’d have told you not to listen to what others said. More importantly, I’d have also told you not to listen to the lies in your head.
I’d have told you there was a better way. I had have held your hand when you were scared and I would have found a way to protect you when you felt bullied or terminally alone.
You blamed yourself for everything. But most of this was never your fault. You blamed yourself for your family problems. But son, they had their own problems long before you were born. Trust me.
The problem with being a kid is you look up at adults as authority. As kids, we looked up at our parents and believed they knew it all. They were our introduction to the world. This is where we learned our lessons between right and wrong. And we never questioned what we learned because if or when we did, our parents would always tell us, “Don’t argue with me. Just do what you’re told.”
However, we never stopped to think, “Maybe it’s them that are wrong.”
And by the way . . .
You had this thing, which you thought made your stupid. But you were never stupid. You never will be either.
You just needed help in school. That’s all. You needed to find a different way to translate the information into a way that you could understand.
You might not believe me but you will go on to do extraordinary things. Nurture this because it is very easy to nurture the imbalance of emotional disorders.
Kid, there is nothing wrong with you.
There never has been.
I wish I could have helped you. I wish I could have shown you a few tricks. I wish I could have shown you where you kept your talent.
I knew where you kept your secrets hidden. I knew about the scars you never talked about and about the shame you felt. I knew about your guilt and the pain. But this wasn’t you.
I knew you.
All you wanted was to come and out play. All you wanted was to be fine, to laugh and be happy, to be welcomed, and wanted.
You wanted to fit; only, you swore you never could. But you were wrong, son. You were so very wrong.
I talk to you sometimes, like a child, and I tell you, “I know you are scared.” I say, “I know where you are and where you hide. But don’t worry. I’ll never tell anyone. This place will belong to just you and me.”
I comfort you by explaining, “Whenever you feel worried or hurt or angry, just come here, and you and me will sit down and work things out together.”
I remember the way you were afraid of both the dark and the unknown features of what lurked in it.
This is when I say, “It is late now and dark too, I know you are scared but don’t worry. I am right here to protect you.”
I let you know, “I will always be here for you because I am you. And when you’re ready, it will be safe come on out. I have an entire world I can’t wait to show you.”
It’s okay to come out now. There is no one around to hurt you. Besides, now that I’m grown, I will never let anyone ever hurt you again
Note from the author:
One of the questions I ask in my motivational or empowerment groups is if you could go back and interact with you at any point in your previous life, what you say and what age would you go back to?
Sometimes I write these letters to my younger self. I write to the pains of my youth which started when I began to learn about the different degrees of popularity.
Sometimes I write this letter to the younger me because I know how alone I was. I was uncomfortable and always worried.
I see that even in my adult years, I am still responding to childhood concerns. But this is okay now. I don’t have to be afraid of the dark anymore. I can come out now. I am free to play whenever I choose. More importantly, I am free to be me without being afraid of everyone else.