My Past Is Mine

There’s one thing I’d never been quite able to grasp till now, and that’s ownership of my past. I spent years working through names and personas, trying my best to distance myself from what was happening and what I was feeling. I spent years terrified to telling someone; anyone in fact, what my past was because the words didn’t feel right when I said them. I didn’t want to be a victim or someone to be pitied. I wanted to be someone who people could look at and say, ‘They made it through.’

When I first started this project I had no idea how important to me it would become. I wanted to do mostly for the fact that if it was in print then it didn’t have to be inside of me anymore. I thought that if I wrote it out then it wouldn’t be a part of who I was anymore. I was wrong about that.

Writing these parts of my life down and being able to see them through the eyes of outsiders has been the most important thing I’ve ever┬ádone in my effort to recover. I gave me distance of what had happened and it gave me perspective to see beyond my own negativity and remember some of the times when my life wasn’t so dark.

There was one thing that I never expected to come from this endeavour though: the ability to own my past.

Writing it all down made it easier to think about and easier to talk about. If the words were too hard to say then if someone needed to know, they could just read the words instead. I actually prefer the thought of them reading it now though, because here, in this form, it’s not about me telling anyone besides myself. It’s my own dialogue and it’s allowed me to finally come to terms with the things I’ve always hated about my past, and learn that there isn’t anything to be ashamed of.

I’ve learnt that this is my past and this is my story and I can tell it anyway that I want to. It’s not always pretty and it’s not always easy and there have definitely been times when it hurt more than I ever thought it could.

But it’s all mine. It’s part of me and I own it.

It’s filled with mistakes and misunderstandings and many, many times when I should’ve known better. It’s filled with times I’ve only ever survived and other times when I’ve learnt to live.

So I want to do something new with this. By now you’ve read everything that made my life hard, but now I want to share the times in my life that made it bearable.

No more negativity and no more hiding. This is my past and it’s not as lost as I once thought it was.

The Last Letter: Dear 24

Dear 24 year-old me,

Thank you for being proud.

Proud is a word we don’t often use; we reserve it for others, thinking that there is not much that we would be proud of. We’d made many mistakes and chosen the worst path possible over and over again. How could we be proud they’ll ask, thinking of every past letter and every past version of who I’ve been?

I’m proud because I’m here. Despite everything that has happened, all the words I’ve told myself and every time I made a pact to myself; I’m still here. There were moments I doubted I would ever make it and moments when I definitely didn’t want to, but we were stronger than any of us ever thought.

I’m proud because I’ve still accomplished things. There is a few things that I always forget about myself. I forget about the promotions I’d had or how my boss always trusted me to do my best and make things right. I forget that even years before that, I defeated the odds by attaining a Diploma of Business at 17. I forget that because the depression that has ruled my life blocked all of these good things out. But I’m proud now, a few years too late, and I’m not afraid to say that I have accomplished because it did it all when I thought most that I couldn’t.

I’m proud because I’m still fighting for the best in the everything. I still give people a chance and I’m still willing to forgive and give the benefit of the doubt even when I shouldn’t. I know all too well how much people can change and how destruction, whilst internal, can take an external target. I know and I understand and I recognize, because I know there is something good beneath it all.

I’m proud because I’ve learnt to love unconditionally and be unafraid of showing it. I never thought I’d be rid of the days when all I could think about was what others thought of me, but I am. I’ve learnt to be unapologetically me and it’s the most gratifying thing I’ve ever experienced.

I’m proud because I’m still writing this; something that was painful and the most honest thing I’ve ever done in my life. I may not have shown anyone who knows me in real life, but there have been plenty others who have seen and they’re part of the reason this still exists. You, the readers, are part of the reason this post exists.

But most of all…

Thank you to every previous incarnation of me that ever was because if you didn’t exist then I wouldn’t exist.

Dear 24 year-old me, we’ve still got work to do.

Dear 23… (Part 5)

Dear 23 year-old me,

Thank you for holding on as long as you did.

It’s one more eve of a birthday that seemed to come too soon and it reminds you so much of all your past years that it almost feels surreal.

It feels surreal because it’s only recently you learnt to see your past of what it truly was and it’s only recently you learnt to share it with the world. For too long you kept your words and your life locked up inside of you and this is the first birthday you’ve had in a long time when you feel as though you’re actually free.

There’ll be nothing grand about it, but it’ll be everything you’d ever wished for. It’ll be simple and calm and… happy. It’ll be the real happy birthday that you’d forgotten could exist and you can relish it the whole day; and you will.

You’re coming up to a point where you’ll need to make a decision now and you can feel this because what you started months ago is finally coming to an end. You’re getting ready to count it down now. You’re preparing yourself for the final moment that comes from the final Lost Year.

Don’t worry and don’t concern yourself with anything more than this one birthday; you deserve the contentment you’ll receive from it.

Don’t fret and don’t stress over plans, trust me, there’s not point for it since even I haven’t done anything prosperous towards it yet.

Don’t do anything for this one; just be.

There’s nothing left for our Letters and there’s no more Lost Years to come, I promise you this. There’ll be only you now, the Writer and I think that’s the best way to start your new year.

Thank you for being brave enough to tell your story.

Dear 23 year-old me; tell the others that we’ve made it.

Dear 23… (Part 4)

Dear 23 year-old me,

Thank you for understanding what an ending is.

It’s a normal day that it occurs; you’d settled into a new rhythm months ago. You’re the happiest you’ve ever been and for once, you know that what you’re doing is truly right for you. You think you’ve got it all figured out and that nothing can test you anymore.

You thought wrong, and that’s okay.

It’s a Tuesday with a quick meeting in an closed office. One word: Redundancy.

The job and the people you’d called home is now a place where you aren’t meant to exist anymore and you don’t know how to feel. You smile, polite as can be because you knew change was coming, you just didn’t think this was coming. You make jokes and small talk as you clean out your office, then you get in your car and you leave.

It’s not something you want to think about yet; the loss of that workplace where you felt like you belonged most. It’s not something that’ll sink in instantly either; it’ll take a few weeks to wrap your head around it and that’ll be when the loss really sets in.

This is where you’ll be tested again, and you will fail this test, just a little.

The new habits and happiness you’d built up with disappear for awhile and you’ll mourn what you had. I want you to know that it’s okay to do that.

You’ll question and doubt everything again, wondering how on earth you hadn’t seen this coming, after all it did follow the usual pattern of your life. You’ll be negative again, and that’s okay too.

But you’ll pick yourself up in amongst the festive season. You’ll make jokes about your life and how unsuccessful it seems, never realizing that what you’re doing right now is the most successful thing you have truly ever done.

You’re not dying anymore. The world hurts like it’s meant and it’s joyful like it’s meant to be as well. You can truly feel things again and the moment you realize this is the moment you learn what success truly means to you.

Success is not surviving, like you had thought so often; success is living amongst everything that has, everything that will and everything that could go wrong. Success is understanding that it’s okay when it does.

So I’m telling you, again, just like I’m telling myself now: It’s okay, it’s not the end.

Thank you for finally understanding the truth.

Dear 23 year-old me, there’s not long to go now.

Dear 23… (Part 3)

Dear 23 year-old me,

Thank you for learning that not all change is bad.

The world you’re living in is slowly changing. Some of it is by your doing and some of it is all outside forces. This is one of those times when it’s purely outside forces.

The job, the one where it might as well have been called home because it’s the longest relationship you had with a place since your hometown, is changing quickly. A simple take-over, so what is there to be worried about? A lot is what you think, there could be a lot to be worried about, but for once you’re not concerned; you okay with taking it as it comes.

This will be one of those trying times again; you remember how the feel. It’s when something is pulling at you constantly and you can never seem to catch-up. That’s how this all feels. Too many people with too many requests and too much work to do, but you bear it because it’s what you’ve always learnt to do.

The displacement you can see will soon settle, but you’ll have to lose something along the way first. It’ll be someone who’s been there for you for as long as you can remember; a motivator and a friend; you lose the boss who helped shape you into who you are today.

There’ll come a sharp learning curve, and it’s something that shocks you again. You fall back into old habits for awhile and you’ll feel as if all you want to do is escape again. It’s usually at this point when you do try to escape; you use any means necessary to feel in control and out of your skin.

You don’t do that this time. You’ve learnt to be okay with the passing of control and find a way to sift back into your skin even when it’s itching.

It’ll settle again, I promise. It’ll get hard again too, but you know that. It’ll come in waves for the next several months. You’ll learn to bend in new ways and to be appreciative of what you’d lost to get to this point. You’ll finally learn to see yourself clearly, and it’s all thanks to that one moment when your new boss can’t see beyond what she thinks you are.

This is the moment that you finally learn the importance of your journey. It hurts and everything that’s happened comes flooding back but you’re beginning to see it clearer. You less blinded than you’ve ever been and you realize, one and for all, that you are truly okay with where you’ve come from.

All the things that held you back before have learnt to settle and the memories don’t sting as much. You figure out what it means to recover, and most of all, what it means to want to recover.

You realize you’d started recovering awhile ago without even know it.

Thank you for finding yourself again.

Dear 23 year-old me; you made it through so now love yourself for it.

Dear 23… (Part 2)

Dear 23 year-old me,

Thank you for being unafraid of your new challenges.

You’re finally learning to take things in your stride. There’s still doubt but it’s more easily silenced now and you’re finally taking control of the things you can change.

Work is becoming harder and you’re being put into positions you’ve never been in before. For everything you thought you could never do, well you’re doing it now. You’re learning to take pride in it and not be scared to speak up when you need to.

Your patterns are slowly changing. There’s less alcohol in the house and you’ve substituted the food you knew you shouldn’t eat for something that makes you feel better. It’s small changes, but don’t discount them. You’re starting to find your feet and starting to find the strength you’ll use to truly start your recovery.

The darkness won’t fade completely, but it’s definitely receding somewhat. You’re finding desires you thought you’d long lost. You want the feel of that power in your legs again; something you discarded all too quickly when you were younger. You want that power, not to escape, but to move forward. It’ll burn at first, but it’s everything you’ve ever wanted.

The nights aren’t as long as they used to be and there’s no more going to bed hungry. You’re no longer content with the discomfort it causes; you want to feel full and whole, and so you do.

These are huge changes, but they seem so small to you. They take all your effort to keep going and you will slip up a few times. Don’t berate yourself for it; you truly are doing your best.

Your head isn’t filled with the things you think you should do now; you’re just free to do what makes you feel good again. It’s enthralling; to feel so good again. It’s all new and raw and it’s okay to bask in this feeling. Enjoy it, for all it’s worth, you must enjoy it. Even if it seems stupid to everyone else, they don’t know what it used to feel like so pay no mind to their cruel comments.

You’re starting to smile more, and at first you think people aren’t noticing. They are, they just don’t want to tell you in case it causes a shift in your new mindset.

This is the strength you’ve been holding onto; the strength you weren’t sure existed in you. It just needed time to grow, like you. It needed time to heal and somehow, amongst everything that’s happened, it has. You can feel it and I know you don’t want to delve too deep, so terrified of it undoing itself, but it’s truly okay. I promise you this healing is solid, it can taking your small, prying hands for a moment or two.

Bask in this and be enthralled. You’re getting closer to the person you always wanted to be: happy.

Thank you for being willing to take those first few steps.

Dear 23 year-old me; recovery was never meant to be easy.

Dear 23… (Part 1)

Dear 23 year-old me,

Thank you for being willing to take a chance.

There’s no more apologies and no more things that I wish I could undo. You’ve done them all and you’re still here, and I want you to know that I’m proud of you for that.

This is a year you’ve never had before and for once that is alright. You’re no longer looking in crystal balls for answers and presuming to know what’s coming before it hits. For the first time in forever, you’re learning how to live again.

But with this new world comes new challenges; you’re going to have to learn how to keep your faith. You’re going to have to learn to read into the lessons you were taught and you’re going to have to learn to not get angry when you’re a little late to realising those patterns.

You’re going to meet someone though. This hasn’t happened in a long time and it’ll make you just as excited as the first time it happened. It’ll all be new again and the rawness of these emotions that you’d forgotten how to feel will be so beautifully overpowering.

You’ll make plans in your head and get stuck in fantasies and that’s okay. You can have your small piece of heaven because for the moment, he’ll be everything you ever wished for and knew in love before.

I don’t want you to worry too much when it comes to an end though. We’re both too aware of what happens when these things die before they even get a chance; but you know what, you’ll prefer it this way anyway. The world is far too new and full of wonders for you to be so entranced.

So, you let it go, after only the two months from when it came. A small piece of affection to ease your mind when it feels lonely. This is something that is okay to cling to because for the next few months some things are going to be scarce in your life, but I promise it’s all for the best.

All those new year’s resolutions you’ve made, year after year after year; you’re going to start fulfilling them, slowly of course. You’ll make different kinds of plans and you’ll begin to map out the future again, this time though it’ll all be for you.

Thank you for knowing that affection isn’t always permanent, but it is always beautiful.

Dear 23 year-old me, your heart is learning to grow again.

PSA: The Writer & The Letters

Dear everyone who has followed along with me thus far into my narcissistic insanity, thanks for humoring me so well!

The context of the letters up till this point has been quite dark, a little depressing and not that all that hopeful but as my life did change, so will the letters. The next letters are probably the most important ones and will definitely be the most difficult ones for me to write.

I’ve found as I get closer and closer to who I am currently the letters are getting harder and harder to write. I’m going to put this down to the fact that time hasn’t given me complete clarity of that very close past yet. They’re also going to move into a bit more active voice and less passive, reflective. Hopefully this won’t change how well they’re read though.

I’ve also realised, having come this far (it feels like eternity) into this writing exercise, there are some things I now see differently after having written them down and read through them again. There are some places I wish I’d put more details and some that I’m really not happy with in the whole feel of the pieces.

Due to my inability to be happy with majority of what I produce generally, I’ve put thoughts down that I’ll end up posting as latent notations on each year. Here’s the thing though, I also want your help with this so what I’m hoping you’ll humor me with is anything about any of the past letters you’d like to know more about and that you’ve specifically had thoughts about you’d like to share.

I know, I ask a lot, but as this journey seems to have taken on a life of it’s own I would love to be able to post (and read) some feedback from you all. You can even tell me I’m annoying and horrible if you want, I probably would not judge you for it.

In the meantime, and considering I have one more year of life to go, I hope you’ll enjoy the small change in contextual scenery!

Dear 22… (Part 7)

Dear 22 year-old me,

I’m sorry you keep waiting for something.

Once again you’re at the eve of another birthday and once again, you’re unsure of yourself. Could you have done more? Should you have done more? Would it matter if you had tried? The answers to these questions never really come, because they still swirl around my head.

I’ll tell you a small secret though, dear younger me, it’ll be different this time next year. You’ve a few more lessons to learn in the coming 12 months but once you’ve learnt them and those 12 months have passed, you’ll meet me as I am now, writing to you.

It’s not long now and you’ll get a small glimpse of affection again. You’re not ready for it yet though, so don’t worry too much when it goes astray again. There’ll be challenges again and there’ll be times when you struggle again and it seems to get dark, but not fret, it’s that last painful growing pain.

I won’t keep you long this time because I know you’re sitting there, alone in your living room with wine glass and chocolate and a favourite movie to watch, but I will tell you this: you’ll learn to take back everything you’d ever thought you lost.

You’ve been brave over the past year and you’ve survived more than we could ever imagine so for that you deserve a short rest tonight. Don’t worry yourself so much and don’t let the anxiety over those questions eat at your new found hope and your soon-to-be found resolve.

This is the last time I’ll ever apologise to us, so I guess I should make it good.

I’m sorry it took so long to get to this point but I have much more I need to say, so for now…

Dear 22 year-old me, drink that wine and enjoy your night just the way you deserve to.

Dear 22… (Part 6)

Dear 22 year-old me,

I’m sorry this feels so confusing.

You’re back, and you seem to feel like you’re constantly ever going back. It’s okay though, this is a different place now because you’re a different person now. You’re still avoiding certain places, and this is something you’ll learn is not born out of fear, but out of growth.

The job is different, but so much the same; it feels like home. There are moments it’ll feel like nothing has changed and as if no time has elapsed at all, but life will always remind you that it has. You need not to be scared of the fact that life has carried on here without you, or that the place you left doesn’t seem to fit you anymore. It’s not meant to.

Growth is something you’re only now learning to understand because you’re only becoming aware of it. You’re so incredibly different than the girl that left, because now, you’re not making pacts with yourself; now you’re okay to exist for awhile.

I can barely describe to you how that’ll feel for you, because it wasn’t so long ago that we were one in the same but I can tell you it’ll be alright. All that learning and healing you did finally takes hold now. Being back there enables you to see the old patterns and the bad habits, and you’re so aware of them that now you’re going to start to make plans to change them.

This won’t happen overnight and there will definitely be some nights when you follow those oh so familiar patterns you built over those years. You need not worry, life has gone on and those people still exist but you will not see them again. Fate doesn’t have any surprises in store for you in that way, because for once you’re getting the chance to write the story.

I wish I could say that it will be easy, but it won’t. It’ll still be hard and you’ll be confused and disheartened many more times in the near future, but at least you’re taking a chance back where you were probably always meant to be.

It’s all familiar roads and familiar aisles in your now unfamiliar landscape of vision. You’ll sit in that room, pup between your feet and two strangers who will become your closest friends in time. You’re wondering what is meant to be in store for you here, thinking something huge must be coming.

This part of your journey is just preparing you for one of your largest stretches of growth, so please don’t worry. Don’t feel anxiety as you walk the familiar streets and don’t bother looking behind you; there’s no one there. Breathe easy for awhile, you deserve it after all this time. Not everything that happens has some grand reason until you give it one.

I’m sorry you couldn’t stop looking behind you.

Dear 22 year-old me, embrace this small piece of hope, it won’t lead you astray.