I was invited to write a letter to my former self. It went like this:
“Think about a moment or a period of time in your life when everything changed for you. We all have zigs and zags in our life, but think about the one that stands out – the moment that changed it all. Now think about yourself right before that moment. What do you want to say to yourself? Is there something you wish you knew?”
That invitation came from 23-year-old writer Ari Anderson who has set up a blog filling with people’s letters to their former selves, and I’m hooked. He wanted to learn from people who had really lived, wanted to hear advice spoken back in time so he could take the wisdom into his own choices. These letters are well written by authors who call up passionate and compassionate pleas and reassurances to their younger selves.
Here is mine. I gotta tell ya, it was super healing for me to write this. I didn’t know I could heal another level around this subject but I knew I needed it. I think you should try it. Just sit and down and freakin’ do it. Send it to Ari or don’t but give it your attention.
Here’s his blog: http://www.letterstoourformerselves.com/about/
Dear Forty Two Year Old Rythea,
You are about to have a baby. Your belly is so full of life, so huge and so heavy. You are more afraid than you’ve ever been; sure that something horrible is about to happen to you and your child within. Your terror has flowed through you like an underground creak for nine months and all that time, there was this foreboding dread. You didn’t think you would get to give birth to a healthy child no matter what the ultrasounds said, no matter her kicking in your womb, no matter the plans, the baby clothes, the toys in her room. You are in tremendous amount of memory- thinking that the past atrocities of your childhood will win once again, rise up like Godzilla and take the thing you love the most. That is what happened when you were a kid and so you have every reason to think it will happen again, now, as you attempt to birth a being you love like nothing else. You are sure it will be a shattering disaster, like a horror movie that goes on too long and then ends with devastation, blood, and guts.
I wish I could tell you that the birth process is going to go well. It won’t. I wish I could say your midwives turn out to be wonderful guides but they don’t. They are incompetent and negligent and lead you into dangerous terrain. I wish I could say the labor is going to be quick but it won’t, it will push you beyond the limits of what you think you are capable of. I wish I could say, despite everything, you pop that baby out at home in your bed, but no. You will go to the hospital after 3 days of labor and 7 hours of unsuccessfully trying to push the baby out. I’m sorry to say the car ride to the hospital will feel like a death tour…but stay with me, there’s more.
I can tell you that your beloved husband Patrick will not flinch, will not waiver for a second from his duty of serving you. He will be present and fiercely loving throughout even when fear is in his throat. Your dear friend and nurse midwife Tara will greet you at the hospital with a literal halo around her head and assure you that you are now in angel’s hands and she’ll be right. The drugs, the 1/2 hour of rest, the attempts to push the baby out again, the rush to the delivery room, the forceps doctor with 20 minutes left to his shift, the brilliant pull of your baby’s head right out into the light of day….well it won’t be what you thought it was going to be. It will so much better my love.
It will be the greatest triumph of your life. And you’ll know it.
Your baby won’t die or even be a bit damaged. She will be happy and healthy just like you. It will turn out that your parents were wrong, you were not destined to fail, to be crushed without them. The bond with your baby girl will be so hard won, that you’ll get to ride the wave of loving her with a rare ease day after day. Patrick and you will marvel at the brightness of your daughter and take steady joy in her playful depth. Your history of unrelenting abuse will be contradicted and transformed each day that you keep her safe and treat her as you were never treated. She will make you laugh often and pinch yourself with gratitude.
Your family will shine dear one because the past really is over and you did it.
Your Future Self