When I saw the prompt this week, I said, "Duh, that's obvious: Dear 21 year old self: don't take that first hit of heroin!"
But is that the only thing I have to say to myself, in all of my 41 years?
It's easy to play the woulda, shoulda, coulda game. But if we really could go back in time and change things, or prevent ourselves from making mistakes, where would that leave us today? Wiser? Better off? Maybe possibly worse off? There's no answer to that, and no end to the mistakes made over a lifetime that ended up being strong lessons learned. Would we have learned those lessons some other way? It's a circular question that has no end and no answer.
It can range from the comical.......
Dear 10 year old self: it's really not a good idea to try and jump your bike off Kevin's shed roof. (One of my front teeth is still crooked from the faceplant I took that day.)
Dear 14 year old self: you may want to rethink the leopard print underpants. (don't ask)
Dear 17 year old self: weed and hair dye don't mix. (I may have to repost that blog write some day.)
Dear 4 hour ago self: that spicy chicken sandwich from Wendy's you had for lunch is going to give you some wicked heartburn. (self explanatory)
.......to the tragic......
Dear 21 year old self: please, please don't drive home tonight. (Lissa would probably still be alive today.)
Dear 23 year old self: please, please take this first stint in rehab seriously. (you will save yourself years of pain and wasted opportunities)
Dear 27 year old self: take this suicide attempt and psychiatric hospital stay as the wake up call you need to get help. (Instead of going right back to the same lifestyle that prompted it in the first place.)
Dear 33 year old self: you're doing a great job of staying clean and sober, but if you just believed you deserved to be happy, you'd be.......happy. (Instead of miserable and white knuckling your way through sobriety, ever on the edge of relapse.)
I could go on and on in the tragic vein for a long time. I've lived a lifetime in regret mode, wishing "If only I had done this.....if only I hadn't done that." But somehow it was never enough to really make me change my ways. Maybe that's what I needed to go through, repeatedly, to get where I'm at today.....finally willing to end my love affair with drugs and destructive behaviors. If I had the opportunity to actually talk to my younger self about these things, it would have fallen on deaf ears. I wasn't ready to learn the lesson. Even at my darkest, most desperate moments, I wasn't ready to learn that goddamn lesson.
Do I like that I've wasted the last 20 years of my life buried in a pit of my own making? No. I'm fighting against the waves of panic that tell me it's too late, there's no point, why start now, etc. But I also realize that there must be a reason why I'm still here, against the odds. And to keep moving forward, I can't play the "woulda, shoulda, coulda" game. I've been through and seen a lot of things in my life that have shaped who I am today. Some for the worse, but some for the better, too.
There is one "shoulda," that stands out though, that I do honestly regret not making and wish I could go back and remedy.......
Dear 8 year old self: it's OK to tell someone about the abuse going on at home. (Maybe the trajectory of your life would have taken an entirely different turn if you had lived elsewhere.)
Posted for The Blogging Lounge, prompt #4: "Dear Younger Self"