A letter to my teenage self
|Dear Sixteen Year Old April,
I look back and see how sad you were, and I wish I could have told you that this too shall pass.
You made the mistake of quitting school, although it made sense at the time. You were bullied, laughed at, alone. If only you had known then that those people meant nothing and neither did their opinions. I wish you had realized how much more important education was, and I'm so sorry they hurt you.
Its okay, you know. One day you will realize that the only people who matter are the ones who love you. And there are people who do love you, more than you will ever know.
Then came the horrible nightmare of seeing Mama die. Only it wasn't a nightmare. This was something that no one should have to go through, and it breaks my heart that it happened to you so young. I know the guilt that nearly ate you alive because you and Mama argued that day, and how you wish with all your heart that you would have gave her the one last bit of joy that she had asked for - to play a board game with her.
I don't know what to tell you to ease that guilt - it still lives with me to this day. But know this: you stayed. You made the last second decision not to go to your friend's house - the only friend you had. Something stopped you as you started to walk away, and I am thankful to you for listening.
You know you would have never lived it down, "Why weren't you there?" "All you care about is yourself!" The siblings would have been ruthless, with no regard to your pain, simply because you made a mistake, a mistake that you had no way of foretelling.
Weeks after the funeral, when your brother said to you, "You sassed Mama all the time. You ought to be ashamed," I am so proud of you for snapping back.
"I'm the one who had to watch her die. I think thats punishment enough!"
More than enough; you were the one who still needed her, who had to learn how to do everything on your own. You were a teenager, for heaven's sake. What teenager doesn't have anger issues, especially with Daddy drinking and them fighting...you just wanted to be like the other kids.
You took care of Daddy until you just couldn't stay there anymore, then you moved in with your sister.
You got a job, and you earned your keep. There were boyfriends who were largely a big mistake, but everyone makes them.
A few years later, you got married - a huge mistake, except for your precious son. But this advice will have to wait for another day.
What I want you to know is how proud of you I am, and how the life that you lived, and the awful things you dealt with for years to come made me the strong, independent woman that I am today.
I love you.