Dear Young Becca,
Greetings from 50 year old You!
It’s been a long road, let me tell you; but we made it! Half a century, no matter how slow time seems to pass now, really does go by in the blink of an eye. Dad was right when he said “It’ll pass fast enough, don’t wish it away”. Dad was right about everything.
I’m writing to clear up a few things that you got stuck in your head. You don’t have to hold on to the hurt and crap that happened to you. You’re allowed to be proud of yourself and to give yourself some slack. And forgiveness. This most of all.
Ready for the lecture? ❤
I wish I had been there to see you through it all then, but I’m here now. I LOVE YOU. I know that, often, you don’t love you, but you should. Really. You’re pretty amazing, even if some don’t agree. You’re not expected to be perfect, just the best YOU that you can be. Given the information you had at the time, you did pretty well at that.
First and foremost, I want you to know that God loves you. He will spend your entire life showing you that in a very personal way. Literally your entire life. Remember the stories about being born with Cerebral Palsy? How the doctors said we wouldn’t live through the night, and Dad gave us a blessing and the doctors called us a miracle? That was the beginning of a VERY PERSONAL relationship with God. Don’t be afraid of that. Always remember that He held you until you healed. Remember what it smells like to be in His arms and, when it rains, know that you are there again.
Sometimes you will feel that He has forgotten you. Your favorite question when this happens is “Did You go on vacation, God? Crappy timing, don’t You think? I need you!” I have learned that it is I who have “left the building”, so to speak, and that God is only waiting for me to open the door. Please open that door more quickly than you are now, because we need Him always.
You are NOT Schizophrenic. The “voices in your head” that come to you at the most important times – as someone tells you that you’re worthless, that you’re not “worthy”, that if we weren’t related we wouldn’t be friends in life. Try not to listen to that. Instead, concentrate on those “voices” that you hear in your heart, that come to tell you “You’re so beautiful!” “You are exactly how I made you, and I love you!” “You’re worth loving!” “YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH!” And all the rest…they are very real. That’s God, and I’ll bet a dollar that he says that to EVERYONE (whether they choose to hear or not). Not because you’re not special, but because, to our Father, EACH of us is special. In a few years, you’re going to have two beautiful children. Very different from each other, but very much like different parts of you. Try to choose a favorite. I dare you. 🙂 Now times your love for them by perfection and unconditional love, and imagine God trying to choose favorites. Nope. So, you see? You are His favorite! As are all of us.
Always remember to see others as individuals and equal. As you will tell Dawn when you’re about 17, “I’m no worse than the best! And no better than the worst.” It was beautiful when you said it (and stopped her belittling diatribe cold!), but I think you forgot that later. Be humble enough to remember “the least of these”, but don’t forget the best of you.
THINGS TO REALIZE EARLIER THAN I DID:
Please don’t wait until we’re in our 30’s to realize that we hardly know anything about our mother. She didn’t tell very many stories about herself when you were growing up, and those that she did tell weren’t happy ones. Understand that, like me, her experiences made her who she was. She was probably called all of the names that she called you; was probably hit more often than she hit you, and maybe didn’t know any better for the short time that she raised you. Understand that “I did the best I could with what I knew at the time” is actually a perfectly good response. It’s not your job to hold her accountable.
She did scary things that you will never do, and was mean in a way that (thankfully) you will never be; but she also had experiences that you never had. Just love her. Remember to give her credit for what she did right, and don’t keep track of the hurtful things. The day will come when you sit at her hospital bed holding her hand (like she did so many nights with you when you had surgery), and she will say “You just being here yesterday, holding my hand…that meant the world to me”. For the first time that you can remember,she won’t follow kind words with an insult. And those will be some of her last words to you. Something that I will treasure forever. Please let go NOW, of all of the hurtful things she said and did. Her actions do NOT make you less of a person. She didn’t know you any better than you knew her, so don’t take her so personally.
That said, it’s okay to distance yourself. She didn’t want (or didn’t know how) to discuss the issues that separated you when you were very young, and you constantly worry about saying the wrong thing, or the right thing but in the wrong way, for fear that she will be angry, or worse, disappointed. It’s easier to love her from a distance; but LOVE HER. She, like you, is worth it.
Some people are mean. From the time I can remember, we were bullied. (By the way, that limp that other kids liked to make fun of so much will all but go away when you’re about 43 and you break your foot. Funny story.) As a kid, we were pretty good about shaking it off (speaking of one of the things that Mom did so very right – teaching us that “Crippled” was not a physical condition as much as a mental one. “At least I’m not crippled in the brain!” we shouted when someone called us names!), but as you get older, you will have less tolerance for being the butt of the joke.
Instead of laughing along, you begin to stand up for yourself and spend less and less time with those who think that your physical limitations are funny. This will include your brothers and sister; your most fierce defenders when others are picking on you as a child become the bullies as you reach adulthood.
Please keep in mind that they never knew their remarks hurt you until you said so, so it’s not all their fault. We teased as a family all the time and you laughed with them, even though it hurt, because you didn’t want them to think you were a “baby”. When you get to my age, you’ll realize that you don’t deserve to be treated like that, and you have a right to stand up for yourself, no matter what they think. But on that day, by the time you decided to speak up, you were so upset that you came across as “unreasonable” and were accused of overreacting. Their error was to allow it to continue after they knew. Even in front of our kids. On that Thanksgiving Day, you’ll decide that it’s not okay to have your kids learn that it’s okay make jokes about your limitations, and as much as you love your siblings, begin to keep your distance from them as well. It will be the hardest thing you ever do; but not a bad thing.
This is a common thing, even now. I tend to let things build up until I literally can’t keep them inside anymore and then blurt out whatever is on the tip of my tongue. For one who prides herself on her communication skills, we’re not very articulate when we let things build. Stop doing that. You have my permission to kindly and concisely speak your mind at the very moment you feel the need.
As you get older, you will trust less and love those you do trust more. You will learn that it’s okay to love others from a distance. It’s okay to cut toxic people off altogether, no matter how close you are, how long you have been friends, and even if you’re related.
I’m not going to say that you have always made the best decisions. You are insecure and have anxiety and second-guess everything. (For the record, I still do that, and I’m a bit frustrated with you for it!) What I want to let you know is that it’s okay to do “the best you can with what you know”. Just be sure to keep looking for ways to know more and do BETTER. Keep learning. Keep improving. Keep loving and trusting others until they give you *good* reason not to. While moments of life can be quite overwhelming, in the grand scheme of things, ours has been much more good than bad. Keep the Big Picture in mind and keep being the best YOU that you can be, Keep growing, Keep becoming.
Oh, and that very personal relationship with God? That’s on purpose. Don’t ever let that go. There’s a reason that you’re able to “tune in” while others can’t. USE IT.
In closing, let me just say: I love you. God loves you. Listen to those “voices” and stop second-guessing. If I’ve learned one thing, it’s that you/I do NOT know yourself/myself better than God knows you/me. Listen to Him. Listen to your heart. YOU ARE ENOUGH.
I love you/me,
50 Year old YOU