Day Five - “Younger Self” Write a letter to your younger self telling them the things you think they will need to know about when they are diagnosed with your condition.
Well I am going to cheat here slightly if I may. The reason for my cheating is that actually I have already done this exercise. It is an idea that I gained from reading something Stephen Fry had done and in response to that I wrote my “letter to a younger self” back in November of last year. Wow that year seems to have gone fast.
So having already done this exercise I thought I would republish that last – which can be found here, – but add to it and highlight the additions by placing them in red text…
I know that you do not really know me and that this letter is going to come as a surprise to you. And I apologize if it comes as a shock but hope that you will see that I had to write it.
To be honest, it is my sincerest hope that if you; get this letter in time, if you take time to read it, and if you truly take my words to your heart, you will never ever know me and never get a chance to become me. Not the full me at least.
You see, I am “you” or at least I am the ”you” that you have become many years in the future. It is confusing I know, but I so very much wanted to write to you telling you some truths that somehow we – you and I – have never been able to understand or accept.
Truths that I now, after years of struggle and no small amount of healing I now know and understand.
You see I know the thoughts and feelings that you (that we) have had for so long now. Thoughts and feelings of; being unloveable, of worthlessness, of guilt, and of shame and of being somehow damaged, even irreparable.
Yes Kevin, even now some forty years into your future I still struggle with these.
For as long as I can remember I too have heard and sadly listened to and believed those voices, those thoughts, those feelings that tell me I am not worth anything, that I am ugly, dirty, useless, worthless. Voices, thoughts and feelings that convince me, convince us, that we are not worth loving and that seeing as we are not worth loving that those who want to hurt us or abuse us can do so.
But you see those voices, those thoughts, those feelings are wrong, so very wrong. And we have no right to listen to them let alone to believe them and I so desperately want for you to know that and to know it now before everything goes so terribly wrong.
You are so very young. Only ten years of age, and trust me I know how already things have gone astray in your young life and how desperately alone you feel.
When you slide into your bed at night and lay there unable to sleep, scared, and alone, desperately trying to face those thoughts and feelings and voices not knowing how to stop them, to change them, to heal them, I have been and am there with you also.
I know only too well, how much you try to hide the way you feel, the thoughts you have and the voices that you hear, from your family and your teachers, and those around you for fear of rejection or ridicule or worse.
But I beg of you, dear sweet child, I beg of you to trust them (those who hold you dear) and to let them into your inner hidden shame-filled world. Because if you don’t, and trust me I am talking from experience here, it will go on to damage you and hurt you and destroy relationships that you should never have lost.
And even more than this, it will lead you to form relationships that you should never have begun and that will hurt and damage you even more deeply than I care to think of.
Kevin, dear sweet Kevin. How deeply I wish I could be there with you to hold you, hug you, guide you and help you find the healing that you so desperately need and so deeply desire.
I cannot begin to place into words, knowing now what lies in your future and my past if you do not get this letter, the sense of urgency that I feel in trying to change the course of life that you are on.
I desire so deeply for you not to go through what happens to you both in your very near future and beyond it and for you to NOT make those attempts that I know are going to come to try in an attempt to end it all. Not to mention those the decisions and actions that you take as a result of the misplaced feelings and beliefs that you mistakenly hold as being true.
Kevin, if you take nothing else from my words to you please, please, accept and believe what I am going to say to you next. Take my words, hold them in your heart and never let go of them…
“Life IS WORTH LIVING because YOU ARE WORTH LOVING and what is more YOU CAN BE LOVED and ARE LOVED despite the way you feel.”
Kevin, I know those words are difficult to hear and even harder to believe. But take it from me, (and let’s not forget that I am actually you – just and older and hopefully wiser and more experienced you) these words are true and the thoughts and feelings and voices – those hateful, harmful, deceptive and malicious, lying thoughts, feelings and voices – that you and I are so used to knowing and believing, are all wrong, so very wrong.
Kevin, I have to close this letter now. I wish so very much that I could write more, share more, show you more. And yet even as I have written the words I have just written, I have come to understand that actually a large part of who I am (who we are) today is in part as a result of what I have been through and what you may yet still go through.
There are so many things in my life that I am thankful for, and trust me Kevin, so many wonderful things that you have yet to experience. Love, marriage, parenthood, your ministry and the faith that I know you already have and yet don’t fully understand or appreciate.
Kevin, please trust me when I tell you that I know the things that you have done and I know the secrets of your heart – the questions, the confusions, the conflicts and the victories. The joys, the fears, the wounds, the guilts, the dreams, and the hopes that are all present there held safe and secure within.
Admit the things you have done sweet child, and accept the love and forgiveness that is offered in return. Trust your family no matter how hard that may seem right now. But trust your heavenly Father more. Because the years of love shared with them that you may lose as a result of not trusting them now can never be regained. Trust me I have tried.
And above all else please, please, know that nothing is greater than God’s love. Not those voices, those feelings, those thoughts, nor the guilt, the pain nor the hurt. None of them, whether individually or combined, are or could ever be greater than God’s love or God’s love for you.
With much love and deep hope,
Kevin. November 29th, 2011. Additions (in red) added December 12th 2012.
So there you have it my, albeit slightly amended, letter to a younger self.
As I said, I wrote the original version of that back in November of last year and I have to tell you that it was a painful experience then and (to a lesser extent) a painful experience now.
Did is serve a purpose then? Does it serve a purpose now? Well we are all different aren’t we but yes for me I believe it did and does.
As you will have possibly gleaned from reading that letter my mental illness had a direct impact on my young life and on the relationships that I did or didn’t form throughout my life. But there is one relationship which it had a huge impact on and that is my relationship with God.
So many of the wounds, the fears, the self-criticisms and so much of the self-hatred that came as result of my mental health and in some part from my unsuccessful attempts to end it all even as a child, had corrupted my perspective of my acceptability to God. So much of the relationship I struggled with in respect of my own biological father corrupted an distorted my understanding of the father-heart of God.
As I re-read that letter, as I reflected on it’s words and sentiments I reflected on the lessons that I have since learned and the healing that I have been blessed to have received in these respects. And in that alone it has served a purpose in helping me to affirm and cement the healing that I, that my inner child as received.
But there is, I hope, a greater purpose from this exercise and that i that if but one person – who is struggling with similar situations and hurts and fears – comes across this and benefits from it than it has been more than worth doing.
And that is my motivation and my prayer.