Woah. These past ten years have gone by so fast haven't they? It seems like just yesterday you were getting ready to celebrate your 21st and start living your "adult" life. I want to write you this letter because I don't want you to look back at the past ten years with regret.
Yes, you've fucked up a lot. You made your fair share of mistakes when you were my age, but never forget that you also learned so much from them. When you look back I want you to remember all the hard work you put into your treatment and recovery. YOU did that, no one can take that away from you.
I know you're going to want to forget your early twenties, they were rough, but I don't want you to be too hard on yourself. You worked really hard and that's not something that should be forgotten. I want you to remember what it was like to feel down and out and how empowered you felt when you picked yourself up again.
Your brain is going to cloud your memories and bring out all the negative things, but I want you to remember that not every day was bad. In fact, even your 'bad' days had something good in them. I want you to remember days like today, March 3, 2013.
It's a Sunday. You're regretful because you went gambling last night with your family even though you know that's not a good coping skill and your therapists have told you not to do it. You had some trouble with eating disorder behaviors this past week and you were trying to forget it even happened at all. You also struggled with urges to self-harm. Because you went out last night and didn't get home until this morning, you didn't wake up in time to see one of your treatment friends who came in from out of town. You woke up feeling like a fuck up and wanted to stay in bed all day and drown in self-pity... but you didn't.
You got your ass out of bed, met up with Taylor (yes, the Taylor that you met at Renfrew... your sister Taylor) and she took you horseback riding for the first time in your life. Your day started off badly, but you ended up LOVING today. You were out with Taylor most of the afternoon and you were both able to look back at the past year and say, "Fuck yeah! We've come so far!"
You had lunch with her and didn't even think about the calories or the affect it might have on your body. You got on that horse and you fought the disordered thoughts about exercise and "burning off" what you had eaten. You enjoyed yourself, you had fun. Most importantly, you reached out for support and found a healthy outlet for your feelings. I hope you're able to put those moments at the forefront and not beat yourself up for the past.
Thinking of you... well, me at thirty, I feel now like you're going to feel old and jaded. But really, you have many friends now that are in their thirties and their still a kid at heart. I hope you're able to be that way too. Don't be too hard on yourself if you don't have it all together yet. You have a lifetime to figure it all out.
I do hope that by now you've found someone you can settle down with, but if you haven't that's okay too. Just remember, it's better to take your time finding a 'forever' than to rush for a 'for now'. Remember what they taught you in treatment about relationships, 1+1=3... you+me= we. The formula for a good relationship starts with the PRAISES model. Physical, Recreational, Aesthetic, Intellectual, Spiritual, Emotional, and Sexual intimacy both with yourself and your relationship... but always start with yourself first. You have to love yourself before you can love anyone else. You've struggled with that a lot this past year.
Your past self is almost twenty-one right now and as I'm writing this I'm looking on the walls and seeing all the positive affirmations I've put up for us. I'll end this letter with reminding you of your "Daily Recovery Plan" sheet and some of the affirmations your friends have given you.
Daily Recovery Plan
EVERY DAY I WILL...
- Spend time with God.
- Acknowledge I am valuable because I am.
- Set boundaries and let others know what they are.
- Set limits for myself.
- Be aware that others' needs do not come before mine.
- Be still and listen to my inner voice.
- Only sweat the biggies.
- Be flexible.
- Forgive (myself and others). [...yes, that's a hard one!]
- Live in the present.
- Do something special for myself.
- Try to have an optimistic attitude.
- Give love.
- Receive love.
- Take care of my physical needs.
- Share myself with others (because I want to).
Affirmations (from friends)
- I deserve to love myself.
- I forgive myself.
- I am beautiful.
- I can learn to appreciate my body.
- I am compassionate and have many gifts.
- I am unique.
- I am strong, wise and beautiful inside and out.
- I am kind and gentle.
- I can love myself.
- I am worthy of love and respect.
- I am funny, caring, unique and Cuban. (Thank Kevin for that one!)
- I love my body; I know I deserve for everyone to respect me and care for me. I am Bella Beautiful.
- I'm so beautiful from top to bottom, from inside and out. I deserve the best... always.
- I will NEVER NEVER NEVER give up.
- I am the best daughter a mom could ever want! (Thank Heidi, your treatment mom.)
- I am a special caring woman.
- I deserve to live life and experience joy!
- I am an epically wonderful person to be friends with.
- I am a special, fantastic, caring, and beautiful woman.
- I can love and accept my body.
Take care of yourself. Nothing that is worth it will come easily, but it's definitely worth fighting for.
Your 20-year old self.
P.S. If you read this and realize things are not how you expected them to be ten years ago, remember that it's never too late to start over.