A letter to my younger self

If you could send myself a letter ten years ago what would I say?

Early last week, Tim turned over a metal bin lid, threw on some wood and lit a fire.  IMG_1944Our eldest son had decided to shout for an hour before going to sleep, so when we finally got to sit in our garden with the dancing flames warming our legs, the joy was that much sweeter.

We sat together sipping our drinks while listening to each other and the crackling logs. After a while the conversation meandered around to what we would tell ourselves nine years ago, before we became parents.

What advice or words would we give ourselves on the brink of becoming parents to a severely disabled son?

My husband thought for a while (a trait I admire and should nurture more) before saying,

“Try to appreciate it all, even when it’s rubbish and take 6 months off before you crack up under the strain.”

Since that evening I have pondered this question. What would I say? What advice would I give? What preparation or comfort could I offer?

I began to write a letter;¶

Dear Rachel

    You don’t know me, but one day you will. We look similar, yet in many ways we are quite different. In the next few days, weeks and years you will gather many memories and there are a few things I want to tell you.
    I am proud of you. I’m proud of who you are and who you will become. You will know how uncomfortable and awkward that is for me to say but it is true and I would love you to know it in your heart.
    The best decision you ever made was your choice of husband. Well done you. He will show himself to be an even greater man than you believe he is now and as you grow together he will continue to be your greatest strength and comfort.
    Like you, when I look at my present and future, I long for the path of least resistance. I want my life’s river to sweep through a well marked valley with minimal undulations, corners or obstacles. Yet as I look now, I see now the longer, more complicated route has its own magnificent views. 

    This is a difficult journey but one day you will come to believe that the easiest way isn’t always the best.

    Along this road there will be many feelings. So much fear, hope, grief, joy, doubt and pain, that at times you will feel swamped by emotions. Try not to fight them and do not dwell on them. There is no need to struggle, just let them be and live through each one. They will come and go, before new ones arrive to take their place. As you learn to ride your emotions better you will find comfort in simply living in today knowing that tomorrow may be different. P1030427

     In it all stand firm. Hold tight because when you feel most overwhelmed you will find a depth of strength, perseverance and love that you never knew possible. 

Vivien Greene said it perfectly.

 

‘Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain ‘ 

   I cannot promise it will all be alright, but I do promise you are never alone and you will learn to dance.

                                    Your friend,
                                               Rachel

 

This is a very specific letter to me, so I’m not sure how much it will resonate with others but I have found it helpful to look back and see what I have learnt, how I have changed and grown.

If you get chance think about what you would tell your younger self, if you have time write it down and if you’d like, please share it in the comment section below. I’d love to hear from you.

Find out more about my journey through my memoir, The Skies I’m Under.

The Skies I'm Under

About the Author:

Qualified Nurse, Writer, Trainer, Public Speaker and unqualified parent of three. My days consist of Lego, laundry and loving three boys, one of whom has complex and life-limiting disabilities.

9 Comments

  1. Bex June 6, 2014 at 7:55 am - Reply

    Another beautiful thought provoking post that made me grab the tissues. Thankyou for giving a deeper understanding into the joys and struggles of being a parent to a child with specific needs. Xxxx

    • Born At The Right Time June 8, 2014 at 6:25 pm - Reply

      Thanks for your comment Bex, sorry for making you cry…

  2. wendy scholtka June 6, 2014 at 9:28 pm - Reply

    For two reasons I actually had to stop reading this when I was rushing out this morning for the school run and “get to work dash”. Firstly, it actually brought tears to my eyes, not because of any sadness but for the beauty of strength of relationship and unity with someone with whom you have trodden an unexpected path. Secondly it just made me realise how I spend my life just rushing from a to b to c to d etc without ever stopping to pause, reflect and just appreciate what I have, and what won’t be there forever. The advice I would give myself at any age is slow down, enjoy, find the moment and savour it because it won’t be there forever.x

    • Born At The Right Time June 8, 2014 at 6:25 pm - Reply

      Thanks for commenting Wendy. Rushing from A to B to C without even enjoying A,B or C while we are actually is a constant battle and these phones that take me away from concentrating on the person I am actually with is a persistent battle.

  3. Norman June 6, 2014 at 9:30 pm - Reply

    Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but I have never really thought to use it in such a positive and creative way as you have done – thanks!
    I do a lot of journaling and self reflective, but this brings it to a whole different level. Much of th time I find it easier to reflect on how I could have improved terms of things I do, and ways I behave etc. I suppose if I was to write to my younger self I would say a lot of things, but one of them would be – “Be a little easier on yourself!”
    Thanks Rachel – looking forward to the next one! God bless!!

    • Born At The Right Time June 8, 2014 at 6:22 pm - Reply

      My mum says that to me a lot…be nice to yourself.

  4. Hannah June 6, 2014 at 9:32 pm - Reply

    Another great blog entry Rachel. The best bit…your letter.

    Aonther example of honesty mixed with descriptions so vivid I feel like I’m there with you, yet still I feel I have so much more I’d want to discover.

    If I were to right a letter to myself now, I’d right about communication- things I should learn to speak up about, things I should have asked when I had the opportunity and in some circumstances sometimes..suck the speech bubble back in.

    • Born At The Right Time June 8, 2014 at 6:22 pm - Reply

      If only we could suck back that speech bubble, I would have used that technique many times.

  5. Alex June 9, 2014 at 8:58 pm - Reply

    I couldn’t have written you a better letter myself (which we both know to be true as you write far more eloquently than me). Once again you’ve tackled something that the rest of us might find a bit aaaawk-warrrrd (to quote JJ), as it’s hard to be tender to ourselves. Yet once again you have combined honesty with beauty, and you humbly hold your head high – I’m so proud of you too. On Saturday night I was at Thorpe Park for my sister in law’s hen do, and braved the ride ‘the stealth’. So using this completely trivial example (to avoid doing tender in public), I would say to my 10 years ago self, that a bit like this ride ‘strap in, prepare yourself to have the breath knocked out of you, scream, and you’ll be really glad you were so brave afterwards’. Love you and your beautiful family xxxxx

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