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Dear, Me

Letters to My Younger Selves

By Alice SchellingerPublished 11 months ago 7 min read
Dear, Me
Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

Dear 11-year-old Me:

You are so loved. You are so worthy of love. You were meant to be a kid, and you should have enjoyed this time as much as possible. You deserved that so much, and I know that it feels awful to have had some of that experience taken away from you. You learned things and experienced things at such young ages—at 3, 5, 7, 9, and now—that left you feeling lost. You were uprooted from a place you loved by a natural disaster and made to move to a place where you were bullied even more for being different.

Dear 14-year-old Me:

You had a hard time with crushes, puberty, and so many things because of the fact that Mom was virtually on her own in this new place. The help that she did receive or seek out was not always so helpful. In fact, some sources of help were downright hurtful. You started seeking attention from friends, both in-person and online, that got you to experiment with and experience things that maybe your young self shouldn't have been experiencing. You created accounts on social media websites that got you into deep trouble. You learned about sex through pornography, VampireFreaks, and sex-ed from friends and school. You learned you were bisexual when you told friends that you might like girls, and you went on a field trip to DC and bought your first Marilyn Manson album. Your mom absolutely hated that, as did most of your family. You were misunderstood and even seen as a freak instead of treated like the flourishing young person you were. Any acceptance you did receive felt. . . Well, you didn't know it then, but it felt half-baked and obligatory. Anything that you did was utilized against you, both good things and bad things, but especially the bad things. The guidance you did receive paled in comparison to actually having your needs met by the person who should have met them: Your mom. Whenever your needs were met by your school friends and Mom's new boyfriend with whom you quickly formed a father-daughter bond, it only created more tension and jealousy. Stability was lost in your life, and it would take you several years to find it again.

Dear 17-, 18-, and 19-year-old Me:

These years were both fun and a doozy. You just had your first boyfriend last year and lost that last bit of pure innocence. Not that you were even truly innocent anymore. How could you have been with a dirty sense of humor, unbridled and unchecked fascination with sex and adult behaviors, and penchant for horror films and music? You still barely had stability, and you were doing your best. Even though you were passing your classes, your confidence at times scared people. Your knowledge of anything outside of the prescribed "normal," especially your knowledge of the difference between theistic Satanism and LaVeyan Satanism, drove people to think that you were evil. A certain devout teacher didn't help by barely even allowing a friend of yours to stand up for you in class, but you still took it in as much stride as you could. You had a boyfriend that you loved, who never treated you wrong, but that everyone damn near encouraged you to leave because he was "too immature." No, he wasn't; he just didn't have the life-path direction that you did. Ultimately, you'd leave that relationship as you would find a grass that was greener with someone new, and you'd recognize that you were no longer compatible, but that would be okay. . . For a while.

Dear 20- and 21-year-old Me:

God, these years were. . . Joyful and absolutely insane at the same time. On one end, you were able to experience college. You entered college and chose a degree path that made you happy: English Literature. Sure, you may have wanted to go for psychology (and your older self will wish you did), but you learned things that you wanted to learn, and you had fun. You met many amazing people and created many friendships. You learned what you liked and didn't like, and explored yourself in many creative and vibrant ways (let's just leave it at that). You also went through some experiences you shouldn't have. You had habits that were unhealthy, such as staying out too late, which often involved drinking, smoking, and crashing on friends' couches (or, rather, one particular friend). And you went through some experiences that left you absolutely traumatized until you finally plucked up the courage to seek out therapy over suppression. But, just like your experiences as a child, none of these bad things that happened directly to you were your fault. Not the assaults, not the miscarriage, not the hurt you experienced at the hands of others. On the other hand, there were things that you did that your older self will have to heal from and accept, such as the ways in which you indirectly hurt your friends, or caused rifts between you that may last for years before you make the mutual decision to come back into each other's lives with acceptance, forgiveness, understanding, patience, and renewed love.

Dear 22-27 year old Me:

Wow. Just, wow, baby. This time in your life was so crucial and full of many wonderful, and not-so-wonderful experiences.

The wonderful:

You got therapy. You opened yourself up to healing from abuse that you experienced in previous relationships, even delving into what you experienced as a child. That was some heavy stuff to go through, and you did it! I'm so proud of you for doing it! You also experienced your first time playing DND with your best friends, joined a theater club, made new friends, started focusing on yourself, got your first car (!!!!) and you GRADUATED COLLEGE WITH A B.A. IN ENGLISH LITERATURE!!!

The not-so-wonderful (Okay, okay, some of this was just down-right BAD)

You got into a wreck in your first car. Your "Baby." Yep, that happened. A few weeks later, you quit your job and moved to live on-campus so that you'd have security to get to and from your classes. Your life started to turn around as you poured your energy into your classes and your friendships, but you also isolated a bit. You spent most of your social time with your then-girlfriend, who was slowly starting to distance herself from you. But, you ignored the warning signs that your gut was trying to send you. You even gave into a fantasy that she wanted to play out, hoping it would restore confidence in your relationship. It only made things worse, especially when she told you that you were not as good as your best friend was. (That would wind up sticking and stinging until you were 27.) Eventually, your relationship also broke. From there, you started losing some friends because people would tell you to "forget her," while actively speaking to her both behind your back, and in front of you. You did your best to let go and move on, nurturing the friendships that were actively true. You also opened yourself up to forming new friendships, and you made some beautiful ones that are still in your life to this day. Sure, they haven't come without some tensions and small squabbles, and even some misunderstandings, but they have weathered through every storm and come back stronger. You even made friendships that lasted only for seasons and taught you valuable lessons about life, yourself, and the world around you.

Dear nearly 28-year-old Me:

You're doing amazing. You're talking to your younger selves and showing more compassion for yourself than you've ever had. You're healing through so many things, and you are realizing and recognizing your true worth. In fact, you're not merely realizing and recognizing: You are affirming your worth.

That in and of itself is such a huge step in the grand scheme of growth. You have come so far, and you are continuing to grow. Every day, you wake up with new opportunities, new possibilities, and fewer limitations on what you can create. You're nurturing healthy friendships, and you are learning to love yourself more and more. That is so beautiful.

Keep doing what you're doing.

Dear Every-Year-Old Me:

I love you. So much.


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About the Creator

Alice Schellinger

Poet and classical literature aficionado. Lover of the arts. Creator of short stories, poems, and articles. Hostess of The SchellingtonGrin Podcast.

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