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. Our 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;¶
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.
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.
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.