Dear younger me,
I have decided to write to you when you were in the darkest, most painful time of your life because I know this is when you needed to hear my following words the most.
You are currently thirteen and living in a residential care unit, you face violence every time you leave your room, even if it’s just to use the bathroom or find some food to eat. Even behind your locked bedroom door you are still afraid, there is nowhere you feel safe.
The staff members who work at your resi unit are mostly just there while they study other things and don’t truly care for the young people they work with. The fleeting ones with their heart truly in it move on too quickly and are restricted by policy in the care they can show without losing their jobs.
I know you feel completely alone in this world, I remember just how isolated and frightened you felt and it still breaks my heart. I know suicide and death are like a comforting blanket you can hold in the darkest part of the night, you truly have no hope you will make it through the next day let alone until your next birthday. Life is bleak right now but I have something to tell you.
I know it will be hard to believe me but I want to let you know that you will make it to your next birthday, you will even make it to the age of 25. You will eventually live in a safe and stable house that is independent of ‘the system’, you will grow to love the body you despise right now. Things will be tough for a few years yet but I promise you that things will get better. Slowly day by day you will learn to make space between your feelings and the choices you make, you will learn about your brain and how your traumatic experiences in your childhood shaped you in so many ways you blamed yourself for. You are not a monster, you are not broken, you will recover.
I know how much you hate people who make false promises so I do not make this promise lightly, I promise you that you will make it through this time of your life, I promise you that you will one day be able to enjoy eating a good meal (yes, sometimes even in a restaurant!) and feeling the warm sunshine on your face. I promise that you will have people around you who deeply care for you and inspire you everyday to do better. I promise you that eventually your life will be completely removed from the chaos, agony and hopelessness you currently feel.
If I could tell you just one thing, it would be to try to treat yourself kindly. Have compassion for yourself, you have been treated so awfully by so many people in your life, there is no need to do the same to yourself. You will eventually live a life you enjoy but will carry the scars from many years of reckless indifference. You wont be ashamed of your scars but you will want to hold that teenager who put their body through those tribulations, cry with them and show them that the pain will eventually end.
You will eventually heal enough to share your story, to use your experiences to help professionals in the system understand what kids like you really need. You will develop your love for writing into another way you can help people understand, you will even be paid for it occasionally.
You will spend your days running training, speaking to big groups of people, teaching yourself about systemic and policy advocacy to understand how to make a real difference to the system.
You will have high hopes for yourself, even if you don’t know exactly what the future looks like you will know that you have control of how to shape it. You know that life will always have hurdles but you will develop the skills to be able to manage them.
I wish I could walk beside you for a time, answering your questions and convincing you that all I have said in this letter is true. I wish I could make your pain stop but I trust you, I know that you will eventually teach yourself all you need to know to make a great life for yourself. I understand that the experiences you are facing and will continue to face for a few years will be turned into lessons. You will be reborn through the flames, your steel will harden and you will become a warrior for those who are still going through the darkness. You will not only make it through this but you will go on to do great things. I will hold the hope for you because I know you can’t hold it for yourself just yet, I promise you life will get much better.
With so much love,
Your older self, twelve years down the track.