Letter to My Younger Self

Dearest one,

As I begin this letter you will have just exited your beloved third grade teacher’s office confused and silenced by a sudden visit from your mother demanding to know why you no longer want to talk to her and seem to prefer the company of this ‘other’ woman. It’s ok to stay silent little one, you are not meant to know why this is happening or what any of it means. In time you will understand that your mother does dramatic things like this and that she was just a child herself for most of your upbringing and had no idea what she was doing. You will forgive her.

The terms ‘envy’ and ‘betrayal’ will mean nothing to you in this moment, but even when they do, you will fail for a long time to come to terms with the fact that your mother couldn’t fathom you whilst this bookish, soft and poetic lady held the first keys to the woman that you would eventually aspire to.

You will consequently, turn to your father for all the nurturing and acceptance you need and he will give you bucket loads of it, albeit shrouded in a haze of sweet smoke and blurry eyes but you won’t care, for his lumberjack arms, prickly chin and loving embrace will envelope your innocence and make everything ok.

All of this will be immensely comforting and you will begin your tender adolescent years loitering around his den while he potters with greasy spanners and frayed edges of books, beer cans and cigarette butts, speaking about everything and nothing. You will become his secret confidant against your mother’s cranky tirades on Saturday mornings and you will entertain his mates who come over for ‘a game of darts’ and marvel at this budding flower who sips her father’s beer and does cartwheels and can lean on his shoulder like the long lost girlfriend he had to abandon when you were too quickly conceived.

At fifteen you will be tossed down the rabbit hole of introversion when he betrays you completely and unexpectedly and you won’t tell anyone especially your mother who, too worn out from being the breadwinner, will be too sleepy to even notice. Eventually you will convince yourself that this never happened and save it for your analyst who 30 years later will fish it out from the oceanic swamp of garbage you have accumulated to explain the succession of boyfriends that followed this swift descent into middle adolescence and the reason why you stayed there far longer than was necessary.

A year later you will lose your virginity to your first encounter with a schoolyard crush and you will discover a penchant for pathos in your tender heart and a codependency that would rival Sati in its complete devotion and sacrifice to the other. He will not be able to reciprocate this depth and you will discover what envy looks like in reverse when he takes up with a blond ‘princess’ whose Barbie doll eyes will suddenly make you aware that looks matter and that most boys prefer princesses to grubby playmates.

(I wish I could spare you the succession of repeats you will have to play of this scenario but I can assure you that one day far into the future you will finally see the true depth of your own worth and embrace a man that knows how to love all of you.)

In the mean time you will search again for that teacher and find her in grade 12 English class and your burgeoning intellect and ‘way with words’ will come into its own. You will graduate top of your class and walk out of the school grounds with your head held high nodding a slight ‘fuck you’ to your father as you go.

Your mother, for the first time in ages, will sit up and take notice.

University will pass quickly for you as you discover it rather effortless, this whole study-essay-exam thing, and besides you will be too caught up with an inebriated young law student who wins you over with Libran charm and candlelit romance and seeing your ticket out of the suburbs and into ‘life’, you will swiftly move in with him and make him your home.

He will love you immensely and teach you things about life that you will sorely need to know; how to write a letter, attend important meetings and carry on a confident day time persona while listening to Jim Morrison and Van Morrison into the ‘mystic’ evenings while he drowns himself in substances.

On your own you will discover Leonard Cohen and Anais Nin and you will hide these pleasures under your bed for he will suddenly one day become jealous that you too have muses that will eventually lead you away from him and out into your own life.

He will leave you dramatically and with a lot of noise and you will let him because you will strangely rather keep his ego in tact and annihilate yours. This is a little quirk of yours that you will need to watch my love, for though you have ‘very little fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living’, emotional pain is a potentially destructive force when turned towards yourself and not lifted to the heavens to be used as fuel for your creative and spiritual fire.

The world will entrance your free spirit and you will step out boldly and courageously on your own. You will travel and see marvellous, dangerous things and live wholly by your instincts and dreams and let magical people enter your life and give you pivotal books to read and songs to sing and you will let it all touch you deeply. You will have a sexual awakening in your early thirties and discover an ownership of your own pleasure you had never known before and this will keep getting better and better despite the long periods you will spend alone between these dalliances.

You will make a compromise with sense and sensibility and enter the workforce in an alternative institution and for many years you will find great satisfaction and easy success here and convince yourself you have transcended your destiny and moved beyond your parental conditioning. ‘Don’t give up your day job’ will turn out to be rather wise advice as it will keep you independent and awake to your own light as well as your shadows. Work will grow you in the world and despite your deeper yearnings and desire to carelessly throw it away, it will take care of you in ways you can’t always see. You will do more good here than you will ever give yourself credit for.

That oceanic swamp however will keep tossing up waves of debris, and you will realize the part of you that is hiding here too and that deeper creative urges are swilling at the bottom of your sea. You will sense that you are on a path that demands that you keep looking and keep listening and as much as you might want to stop at times, you will be relentlessly moved and rewarded by inner growth which you will come to embrace as eternal.

You will have moments when you feel very alone in it all as you watch your old friends and colleagues make seeming successes of their marriages and families and you will try to fit in particularly when your biological clock starts sending shock waves of alarm through your womb and you nearly convince yourself that you would rather die than be childless. This will be a particularly rough passage my love but hold on. Though you can’t see it through the thick grey fog that will descend, there is a tiny crack in that void that if you focus on it, will slowly grow and show you the other plans life has in store for you.

Unexpectedly, when you embrace the inner path, you will encounter the most extraordinary allies who will recognize you and liberate you from that turmoil and enchant you with access to hidden doorways and secret pathways and you will in turn provide comfort and assistance to them who have also suffered and struggled with the worldly way.

You will discover you have much to offer here and finally stand firm in that, knowing that you have been preparing your whole life to offer it.

So stay strong little one, for your journey, from the moment you fell down that long concrete staircase in your grandmother’s front yard at two years of age, is marked with many moments of descent that you will one day come to see as magical portals to a collective oceanic enchantment that will never leave you even when everything else in this whole world does.


Your future (grown up) self.

Myth, Metaphor and the Symbolic Life thissymboliclife.wordpress.com

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