You are 17 years old now and think you are ready for the world. After all, you’ve had to grow up pretty quickly.
If I remember how I was 23 years ago, then you are reading this propped up on the bed with pillows fluffed up behind you. I know you have headphones on as you always do….to block out the fighting just beyond your bedroom door.
You are probably trying to turn up your music as loud as it can go just to drown out the bickering between your mother and father right now. Daddy always trying speak logic to Mama who is in the clutches of alcohol at the moment.
How is this fair?
You are waiting for your 18th birthday so you can run off and get married just to get out of the environment you are in. I remember the calendar hanging on wall…red “x’s” to indicate each passing day. You feel like time is moving way too slow but trust and believe me that you will find freedom. Not only when you become of age but you will find freedom from your inner turmoil. It will be years down the road but I’m here, 23 years in your future, to tell you that what you face even after you leave home will prepare you to be the warrior that is reined in inside you right now.
There will be times you want to give up but you have resilience. You have the drive to go on. You are not a quitter…YOU ARE A FIGHTER!
The friends that seem so important to you today will not be there in a couple years. They are good friends to you now but they will not be traveling with you along your journey.
The boy you can’t wait to marry when you are of age? I would tell you to reconsider that but you already have your mind set and well….I already know how that turns out. Let’s put it this way….he was your first love but not your last.
Your heart will be broken many times over and you will walk through some of the darkest valleys as time goes on.
You will cross paths with many that make an impact in your life. Good friends, lifelong friends, new co-workers, a family pet that will steal your heart (a German Shepherd…need I say more) and God will become pivotal in your life. I know right now you don’t attend church and you still have the children’s Bible that was given to you as a young child. Trust me when I tell you that I become a bit of a nut when it comes to books later on. We will own about 7 Bibles. Don’t ask! 🙂 But you will love the church I found us. It will be very healing for you and me!
You will visit Nana often in Forest Lawn Cemetary. I know you still have that picture of the two of you on your dresser. One day you will honor her by choosing her last name after a painful divorce. It will be a reinvention of yourself.
Make sure you play as many card games as you find time for with your Uncle Dale while he’s living there. The good die young and while I write this letter to you my eyes well up with tears because I miss him even though he’s only been gone a month. Give him a big hug around the neck and remember those special times.
Finally, just know that the battles you fight today with your mother won’t last forever. She will stop drinking as you have wished on many a star and prayed many a prayer at night. There will still be rocky times between you and her. Times that silence will cause pain and also be a healing solace for you. Be willing to find compassion for her and learn to forgive easily. Give yourself grace at times too…those words coming from one of our dearest friends.
You will grow stronger for yourself and those around you. They need you to be strong for them when they see no other way. Others will call on you for strength and you will be able to provide it.
You will walk through the deepest waters but find comfort when I tell you “you will make it and you will get through….stronger than you are today”
Enjoy life….learn all you can…wait till you see how free really feels!
And before anyone tells you any different….40 really is fabulous!