Thursday, January 06, 2011

Letter to My Sixteen Year Old Self

In another blog (to which I cannot link because it is set to private and you must be invited to read), the blogger shared a journaling prompt in which you answer the question:  What would you say  to your 16-year-old self?  

Here is a letter to my former self.

Dear Satia,

Thirty-two years from now, when you look back on yourself and this time in your life you will have this advice for yourself and I hope you will listen to it now: Get over yourself!

Ouch.  That’s harsh.  I know.  But the truth is, this is what you will be doing for the next few years and by the time you are my age, you’ll probably still be obsessing over your personal minutiae than you ought even if it is a vast improvement over how much you are doing so today.

Narcissism isn’t pretty.  And yes, I am aware of the how abandoned you feel.  I wish it could be otherwise.  Would you believe me if I were to tell you that your mother doesn’t really mean it?  She’s fallen in love and, as many women do, she is immersing herself in this wonderful, new, relationship.  Get used to it.  So many of your friends will do this in your lifetime that you’ll begin making jokes about it.  What’s more, you’ll learn from it.

It hurts.  I know.  It hurts to have your mother, your only parent, abandon you for someone new.  You’ve been here for sixteen years and he comes along and whisks her away on weekends leaving you home alone to figure it out.  At least you have the sense to know you haven’t figured it all out.  What you don’t realize is that everything you are doing is a cry for help and, no matter how loudly you scream, nobody is listening.  Not now, anyway.

But you’re learning.  You’re learning so much.  And you’re going to repeat some of the mistakes your mother made but not all of them.  And you’re children will love you very much when they get older.  What’s more, you and you’re mother will heal all the wounds you will inflict upon one another in the next few years.  You’ll get back to that place you both hoped to never leave–the early part of the mother-daughter dynamic where there was so much love and hand holding and trust.  It will all come back.

Believe me.

In the meantime, the sooner you get over yourself, the better.  Luckily, your children will go a long way in helping you with this.  Not intentionally, of course, but there’s nothing quite as effective at shattering one’s ego driven self-image than seeing one’s self through a daughter’s eyes or a son’s.  Children can be beautifully brutal like that.

You want to know the most shocking thing of all?  Some people are going to think you’re a good parent.  Even your children will think you did a pretty good job, all things considered.

It’s okay.  I promise not to tell anyone differently.  It’ll be our little secret.



  1. I like this post a lot! Sad, so sad but I'm glad we know it has a happy ending.

  2. It does have a happy ending but I was really an idiot at sixteen. My life could have been infinitely easier if I had been less self-destructive.

  3. What a beautiful and heartfelt letter to yourself. You can link to me, my blog is no longer private, you don't have to though It's no big deal either way.