A Letter to My Younger Self

on Tuesday, 31 March 2015. Posted in Personal Stories

A teenage girl shares experiance, strength and hope...

Dear ______,

I'm writing this letter to you because it is my 19th birthday this week. These nineteen years have brought me to a place I never dreamed I'd be. When I look back, certain things I feel never should have happened to me. But lets face it, they did, and I'm dealing with it. Things may have happened to me, but that doesn't mean they have to happen to you.  I know now what you are capable of becoming in just ten years, and, if your anything like me- you'll be wanting to settle down, start thinking about marriage... you should know that IT'S POSSIBLE to get to this place. Every time you feel that intangible emotional pain pulling you down, know that feelings pass. Allow yourself to feel, but don't act on your thoughts, however powerful and dictating you perceive them to be. I feel like it is my duty to share with you what I've learnt. I hope nobody has to walk the same path I did. Even though, thank G-d I'm in a healthy and stable place, it look several years of suffering and struggling to get to where I am now. My dream would be for you, and anyone you choose to share this letter with, to achieve the same heights (and further) getting there in the easiest and smoothest way. Pay attention to my words, not because I want the respect or appreciation, but because you don't know how much it would have changed my life if somebody had given me these tools, tips and advice, before I messed up. What a gift, to be able to put things right before they actually go wrong. These words are infused with meaning; they are a part of me I want to pass on to you...
The first thing that I want you to know is that YOU are Hashem's child. Not only should you know this on an intellectual level but try get to a place where you can internalize this and feel it with every fiber of your being. That's a separate lesson you have to heed. You go through things because you're clever. You're perceptive. You're a thinker. You aren't like everybody else. That's a strength, but also your biggest downfall; don't just understand everything on a purely logical basis, work on making it become a part of you. You don't have to do stupid stuff just to feel special, different, and validated. And even if you feel compelled to act this way, know that there is a way of channeling this energy. Learn yourself. Rav Wolbe said that you should know yourself in such a complex way, that if you overheard your best friend and your worst enemy talking about you, nothing they say should surprise you. The more you recognize your own triggers, the easier it will be for you to identify repeating behaviors- key to moving forward. 
As I was saying... Hashem loves you. Yes YOU. And if ever you doubt the fact that He's holding your hand, know, that you're the one that's abandoned Him and let go of His hand, not the other way around. He's holding you tight, as you walk through the sand. If you look carefully enough, you should always be able to see two sets of footprints. And if you don't, it's not because He's deserted you. Yes, it might seem that you can only see one set of footprints in the sand, but that's because in times like those- He's got you on His shoulders. The footprints you see are Him carrying you. So talk to him like he's next to you. Every day tell Him how you feel, even if its full of negativity, hate and resentment- because at times it will be. I'm telling you, if you have that constant awareness due to continual communication, a lot of the overwhelming feelings you might get of loneliness and isolation will dissipate. He's always on your side. Always. Nothing you can do will ever drive Him away. The fact that He's keeping you breathing another day means He wants to have one more day with you in His world. That's a responsibility, but one of the best kind, more than that- it's comforting to know your not only wanted, but needed. You don't choose when to end your life. You were giver your life because your strong enough to live it. So rise to the challenge instead of buckling under yourself- imposed pressure. 
Even though you might feel like Judaism is restricting and binding- give it a chance. Please believe me when I tell you that Hashem isn't enforcing this upon you for His own good. When he introduced Halacha- He had YOU in mind!! I can write a list of 71 reasons why you shouldn't get involved of boys, but if it so happens that you fall into this ensnaring trap, at least adhere to the rules of Shomer Negiah; I don't want to see you get hurt in more ways than your youthful brain could understand. Physically, I want touch to remain something your sensitive too. Emotionally, I want you to grow up healthy, not scarred by certain events that may transpire. Above all that, I just want you to have the most safe and fulfilling relationship in the future. So even though you may have a hard time choosing between what seems like pleasure (always short-term), know that long term happiness is what's going to count. That happiness is something real. Something that is not dependent on external factors. Only something you've generated internally will stand the test of time. 
You should know that nobody is out to get you. Nobody WANTS to give you a hard time, and the people who seem like they are the most tough on you are probably the ones that care for you most. Otherwise why would they bother wasting their time 'on your case'. Please recognize that your parents are treading on eggshells around you. They cry to each-other at night worrying about you, scared to make a wrong move. So for one second, stop denying it. Stop denying their pain (or even yours) because that doesn't make the pain nonexistent.  Instead of feeling victimized and defensive, stop fighting. Put down your weapons because your fighting a futile war. Your parents are on the same side as you. Nobody is asking you to be their best friend. Just listen to what they have to say. Listen when they tell you to come home, listen when they ask you not to spend hours online. You anyway know your wrong by opening that laptop when they're sleeping, looking at things you shouldn't, talking to people you would never dare associate yourself with in 'real- life'. STOP hiding behind a screen. The reason this might come across harsh is because I KNOW how you feel. I was you. I am you- and I'm paying the price for it now. You need to know that those pictures, images, thoughts, lyrics, fantasies, don't leave you for a long long time, if ever. Just like what you eat becomes who you are, so to the things you immerse yourself in. What are you surrounding yourself with? Is that who you want to become? I would hate for you to have negative associations on every street corner. You should never know what it feels like to constantly be aware of where you're walking and whose around you so you can cross roads in order to avoid bumping in to people from your past that will always haunt you. I don't want you to have to go through the emotional turmoil every time you have to throw away an old mobile number, delete yet another email address... Even though these can change your situation; ultimately, there's no escaping from yourself. It's so hard to try uncover that diamond that's hidden under so many many layers of dirt, accumulated over such a long period of time; you even begin to doubt the fact that there's even something there in the first place. It doesn't have to be that way. It's in your hands.
Surround yourself with people who are on the right path. Find yourself a mentor; someone you can learn from. Attach yourself to these healthy, balanced individuals for all your worth and never let go. For when times get dark, they'll be your light. As you go through life, different things will become your saving grace; take Shabbos. Just because it may not be something you connect to now, please don't chuck the baby out with the bathwater. Find the beauty, because when you do, there will be no looking back. Remember, you are a very extreme person, you enjoy feeling the intensity of life, but like isn't all or nothing, black or white. Learn that now because you don't want to be picking up the pieces 10 years down the line. 
I'm here for you to ask me things. I know you can pick yourself hundreds of times, I'm living proof its possible. The journey never ends, but make it one worth living for. You can do it. You will do it. Just because you manage to achieve whatever you put your mind too. I managed to do that in the worst way possible, you do it with all the right things. You're different. You're special. You belong. Hashem should guide you on a path of only goodness and success in every way.
Yourself on your 19th birthday.

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