Saturday, 9 February 2019

A LETTER TO MY EIGHTEEN-YEAR-OLD SELF


Your life is worth a lot more than you think because you are capable of accomplishing more than you know
-          Roy T. Bennett
I got the inspiration for this post from a book that recommended writing a letter to yourself ten years earlier and when I realized how old I would have been ten years ago (18) I thought it might actually be quite interesting (you’ll see why) – or at least to me it would be(!).

Dear 18-year-old Aimee,

I don’t mean to scare you but I’m just going to come right out and say it; this summer, things are going to get really tough. I know you think you’ve survived the abuse but that was only the physical part of it. Here comes the emotional battle for survival!

Aimee, you’re going to overdose in just four months’ time and doing so is going to be the center of your life for a while… Sometimes it’s going to get really scary and, in all honesty, a number of times your life is going to be in the hands of some professionals who won’t always understand you. You’ll meet some staff that think your self-harm and suicide attempts are attention seeking and sometimes you might even question whether this is the case, but it isn’t.
After what you’ve been through, you have every right to want things to end and for the pain to stop. And occasionally that pain will get so bad that you’ll become desperate and will do things you didn’t think you were capable of purely for temporary relief. And that will frighten you because it’ll cause you to question everything you ever believed in, everything you ever thought of yourself and you’ll feel an immense shame because you aren’t the person you thought you were.


But it won’t just be you who thinks these bad things of yourself; there’ll be a voice in your head telling you these things over and over. He’ll be relentless and you’ll believe everything he says and do everything he commands you to do. The horror of having something so powerful inside yourself will make you feel so utterly weak that you’ll wonder how you’ve managed to withstand so many challenges up until this point in time but the fact that you have, won’t make you feel any stronger. Instead, it’ll convince you that you deserve all of these bad things and your confidence and self-esteem will suddenly disappear to leave you all full up on insecurities and shame. And sometimes professionals will add to the shame in patronizing and being demeaning to you; but don’t lose faith in them! You’ll come across some good ‘uns eventually and they’ll be the ones who save you from yourself.

The professionals are honest in their warning that recovery doesn’t happen overnight though, but it won’t make you prepared for just how long it’s going to take. They tell you the hospital admissions tend to be for between twelve and eighteen months, but you’ll be there for over two years. There’ll be times when you lose hope and it will feel like you’ve been there forever. You’ll miss your Mum more than words can say and the therapy will be so intense that at times, you’ll relive the entirety of the abuse. But know that it’s going to be worth it. It’ll take being close to death for you to finally co-operate fully in their treatment and there’ll be some horrific family news but you’re going to have to go through these things to come out the other side.

Professionals will be misleading, and you’ll get the impression that recovery is all about being stable and once you’re in the light at the end of the tunnel, it’ll never go dark again. But it will. There’ll be times when you’ll be convinced that you’re just going backwards and that all of your hard work in therapy has been completely worthless. But it hasn’t! Remember that day you got 100 readers on your blog? Well that’ll just be the start of something much bigger. Your conviction that you’ve found your purpose in life in maintaining your blog will help you through the tough times in recovery.

But the hard work doesn’t stop upon your discharge of the hospital. No, you will always be trying to better your life because you’re full of determination to make up for all of those years spent in hospitals. There’ll be times when you think it was all a waste, but you’ll learn that perhaps they were worth it to be where you are today and to be the person you’ve become.