here and there, but the little short stories, passages and poems that I used to share have significantly declined. There was a time when I couldn't stop the words from flowing out of my head; I couldn't type fast enough…I even wrote a story based on my divorce (see link to House Broken above). It makes me sad when I sit in front of the computer and my mind goes blank. Some days I can’t even formulate an idea let alone the words to share it with you. So today I decided to use a writing prompt.
The website I used has hundreds of prompts all associated with a number. The first number I chose was 314 because it’s my love’s birthday. But this prompt was so far-fetched (cab driver as main character, fire escape as a key object…oh, and it’s set in a funeral home. What?). So I skipped that one. Next I was going to choose 417 because that is my Rye Bread’s birthday but they didn't go up that high. So I added the numbers 4 and 17 and chose 21. This one was good…”Write a letter to your 10 year old you had been”.
That’s right up my alley. And so, I give you this…
I write this letter now, admittedly, with a huge advantage. I've been where you are. I've felt your joy and your pain. I know how your little mind works and how your heart beats. I understand your fears, your dreams. I am, after all, you. As you read this letter, know one thing: you will be OK. You will over come. You will, one day, be me.
There are days, I know, when you feel like there isn't a single person alive who understands how lonely you are or how desperate you are to have a normal father. I remember how you wonder why he just can't stop drinking and how you think that because he can't stop he must not love you.
No one in your childhood will ever tell you that your father's drinking is not your fault and that you have no power over his addiction. This, my child, is one of the biggest tragedies of your life because it will take you years and years to come to this realization. Take these sentences and tuck them away and read them on those nights you lock yourself in your room, sitting by the window crying. Remember who I am and where I am while writing to you and burn those words into your soul.
It is not your fault. There is nothing you can do to stop it. But one day, he will recover.
It's hard to believe that last sentence, isn't it? I know. I remember the broken promises and the disappointment that always came with them. But one day when you're grown up and living far away (Guess what? You're going to work at Walt Disney World!) he'll find his way and he will recover. Your littlest sister will not grow up the way you did. And better yet, your first niece would never, ever believe that there was a time when her Papa could not show up for his own daughter's life.
This is going to be hard on you. You will feel weird around him because in your whole life, you've never interacted with him while he was sober. You'll feel angry inside, almost like everything you've always known is different. You won't know what to do because there will be very little reason to hate him like you think you do now.
He won't ever say he is sorry. Instead, he will work harder than anyone you will ever meet. He will make sure you are taken care of. He will ask you how you are and call you to say he misses you. He'll send you Valentine's day presents when he knows you won't have a Valentine. He will be your father and you will have to accept this as his apology.
Do me a favor, please. Try to remember this when you swear him off and when you exclaim that he is no longer your father. Remember this when you are frightened in the middle of the night when you hear the yelling or when you hear your mother crying in the kitchen. He will make things right. You will get the father you've always wanted.
There are about a million other things that I want to tell you, but I simply do not have the time (nor do I want to stop you from discovering some things on your own). Instead, I will leave you with these reminders. Not all of them will make sense to you now, but every now and then, review them, remember them and use them when they are relevant:
- Listen to the laughter of the people you love and do your best to remember it always. It will bring you great joy when they are gone.
- Do not compare yourself to others as often as you do. You are wonderful the way you are and those who can not see it do not deserve your time.
- Being mean to people is not OK, even if the cool girls are doing it.
- Don't rely so much on signs. Instead, listen to your gut and follow your heart. It's almost always right. Or at least on the right track.
- You are worthy of love. Do not waste your time on people who can't give it.
- Do not talk to someone simply because you bought a mango.
- When someone tells you they do not love you, listen.
- When you feel alone, pray.
- When you feel sad, allow yourself to process those feelings for 20 minutes. And then get up and do something to distract yourself.
- Friendships end for no reason at all sometimes. But new ones also form out of nowhere.
- Smile, even when you don't want to.
- Always remember that there will always be someone, somewhere, worse off than you.
- Never, ever, let anyone stifle your laughter.
And me is pretty great.