I was looking through one of my old journals the other day and stumbled upon this letter that I wrote when I was 16, addressed to my 13 year old self.
Dear 13 year old me:
I know that you’re scared right now. I know that you’re going through a lot and that you don’t know what’s happening or why you’re in so much pain. You will know one day, I promise. It’s going to take some time but it will happen.
I know that the people you love are confused too. Some of them may not understand what you’re going through very much. I know that this might make you question how much they love you, and it might make you want to push them away to keep from getting hurt. Try not to. Try talking to them and telling them what you’re feeling and that what they say can hurt just as much as the physical pain sometimes. They’re going to make mistakes and say the wrong things, but try to remember that this is all new to them too and that they really do love you.
Your pain is real. Never start to doubt that just because some ignorant, uninterested doctor couldn’t be bothered to give you a better explanation. They’re wrong, and one day you’ll be able to prove it. You’re not crazy, no matter how much you’re beginning to feel like you are. The way they’re treating you is wrong and I’m so sorry that they aren’t trying to help you.
I know that you’re tired, physically and emotionally. I know that you feel like giving up, and that sometimes you think that you’d be better off dead, but things are going to get better. They might have to get worse first, if you can even imagine that, but there will be improvements in the future. There’ll be more downfalls too but you’ll get through it all, you just have to be strong.
Don’t give up on your education. I know that you’re bitter because this isn’t the way that you wanted to start your high school experience, but, giving up on your school work will not make you feel better and you’ll only regret it down the line. I know that it’s harder at home, but you’re smart and I know that you can do it.
I’m sorry, but you’re not going to play basketball or volleyball anymore. I promise you though that one day it won’t hurt so much to let those things go. With time it will cross your mind less and less. You need to let go of some of your hopes and dreams. It’s not fair, I know, but there will be new dreams and goals, you just need to keep an open mind.
Most of your friends are going to start dropping out of your life. Some are already starting to, and sadly more will eventually follow. I know you feel like it’s because there’s something wrong with you, or that you’re not good enough anymore but I promise you that it’s not personal. They don’t understand why you aren’t going out with them anymore or why you seem so boring and down when you do. Some of them probably wonder if you’re faking it or trying to get attention. They don’t know how hard it is for you to keep up now and do the things that you used to. They’re young and they want to live their lives that way. It might be hard to face, but there are just some things that your body isn’t going to be able to handle anymore.
Never forget to thank mom for being there for you. I know that right now she’s the only one who truly believes you and is fighting for you. She’ll never stop, ever. The two of you are going to have to help each other through a lot of pain and hard times. You’re going to have to be there for each other through everything. I don’t have to tell you how lucky you are to have her, I know that you already know.
Finally, try to appreciate the things that you still have. Try to hold on to those things instead of the pain you’re feeling because one day they will be the last memories you have of a life without constant pain. Remember the sense of purpose you had in life before this new pain started and hold onto that. I still have faith that one day we’re going to need it.
I found the letter hard to read sometimes. It brought up a lot of old feelings and made me wish that I could hug that 13 year old girl and tell her to keep her chin up. I wish that I had some of the knowledge and connections back then that I do now. It would’ve made life a whole lot easier.