Dear younger self- I wouldn't change a thing

Dear younger self……….

I am struggling with this topic this week for many reasons but in particular it is the fact that I could be living a different life at this moment. However, I love my life! Yes, I love it with all of the disappointments, failures, fear, loss, love, happiness, excitement, and hardships. I’m sitting on our computer trying to come up with the wise words that I would share with myself, guess what, they were shared to me from the strong women that inspire me to this day. Try to remember growing up and listening to the mom in your life or the older sister…… You were warned of what not to do but did anyone listen?…

I did try to find old photos of myself, which became a task of itself. I came across some from a young young me and I always get a strange feeling when I pull these out. A lot of people smile even though they are fighting so many battles within themselves but the picture only shows a gritting smile. How many times have you looked back and not only thought oh younger self if you only knew, but you also thought of the pain you were fighting through that smile.

I did discover that I had received advice that I tossed to the side and wished I had grasped onto immediately. I cherish the life God has given me to this day and I take each lesson that I placed myself in as a stepping stool and learned to try and mold a life around the hardships. In my mid twenties I apologized to a few family members for the boldness I use to have of my life and the damned determination I had to go down the darkpath that they could see. Blinded by my own persistence I  took life and ran my own crash course.

Jeri, don’t read that paperwork that your thirteen year old self is so desperate to see. Bam, the curiosity got the better of me one late afternoon as I read how my father had truly passed away. “Jeri seems to believe her father passed from a heart attack but according to her family members he committed suicide.” I remember screaming aloud but feeling like my breath was non existent. I felt betrayed and didn't’ even know that would be a description that would define many of my future endeavors. To make a long story short, I went through a custody battle for a couple years and I wanted to read what my counselor had written before court. That was a pivotal moment in my life, not once have I wanted to change that. When would have been a good time to tell a child how someone passes? Maybe I didn’t learn this as fast as I should when I discovered my fathers suicide letter at eighteen. Lesson learned from that experience, my mother in law was murdered almost three years ago. Not once have I hidden or tried to distort the truth to our children. I did however approach the situation with an open remembrance of the pain I had the moment I discovered the truth of my own fathers death and we try to use terms acceptable for our young children.

Moving on and trust me I made so many choices (not going to say mistakes)….. Power over your life is first led by the power of what you speak over yourself…… Hello that would have been a valuable piece to have heard… maybe I did and ignored.

Peer pressure would be one thing I would love love love to address with little Jeri…. Hey lady you don’t have to fit in and guess what I didn’t. I wouldn’t say I fell for the peer pressure traps but I fell into the desire to fit in. I wanted to try to be the confident girl who could just strike up conversations through high school but that ladies and gentlemen was not my strong suit in any means. Quiet, small (petite), shy, confused, and embarrassed to express my strange family dynamics left me seeking solid friendships. I am still friends with a handful of the ladies I met through high school. 

Don’t follow that one friend to high school, instead go to the school that would challenge you academically and would direct you away from any drama. I mean freshman year became a hell for me over one neighborhood boy. He must have just been the highlight for our small neighborhood but he came with a price. The friend I followed dated the boy and well after they broke up we kissed…… death become of our friendship and now looking back I would have given myself an ear full, but nonetheless. I never labeled it before until writing this, but the year ended with threats of violence and long days of being bullied.

The following year I would scream to my younger self to truly accept all that God was trying to share with me but again I wanted to fit into the crowd. It wasn’t horrible crowd of drugs and rock n roll but just the crowd of defiant kids. The same year I attended a small Christian school is the same year I lost my virginity. Young and scared I did succumb to peer pressure of sexual exploration. I still remember sitting in service and thinking how I did the worsts sin, hell would have a seat waiting for me. Dear younger self,,, please wait…. I cared deeply for him but should have waited. Wait for so many reasons, all the reasons I ignored.

Dear daughter , you will decide when you want to be intimate and I cannot control that nor detour you from experiencing this connection. It is not something I want you to feel ashamed, and I want you to realize that sex is not going to rock your socks off, nor leave you feeling like a fairy princess that just discovered your unicorn at the end of the rainbow… The pot of gold is not there and what I remember is the crying of shame. For some people, this is not the case. I was too young to emotionally wrap my mind around what I had just experienced and the hormones I had swirling were running ramped. I would not change it but I do see where I blatantly ignored all of the advice given. So dear daughter I will try to be as open and honest with this subject to help you. I pray that I will be a strong spiritual guidance for you to see the greatness of waiting. 

Junior and Senior year were both spent at another two different schools and last one being in a different state…. Not much you could tell me through these years because, I believed I knew what was best for me. Again when I decide to make life altering decisions I normally like to go all out and push through all of my inhibitions, and do exactly what I think I can avoid. Sound familiar? 
Dear daughter,,,, please please ask me and I will tell you the truth of the good and bad that comes with a relationship … I will not sugar coat any of the memories . I did many hurtful things to others out of my own fear and anger… That is harder to swallow than having to forgive others. Or at least for me it is harder. You will succumb to a darkness of depression over the failed relationship with your high school sweetheart. However,  one day you will marry him and it will never be an easy journey but one with sharp turns and road blocks. I would tell myself here in the darkness that the light is at the end of the tunnel (something I still say). I wanted the relationship so bad, sometimes I pushed my own desires to the side and fought hard for love. I pulled away from those childhood friends that now I hold so close.. Dear daughter I will never want to witness you feel this pain but it will come and one day you will cry over a broken heart. It might not be as deep as I felt but you will feel pain. 

OH,,,, DEAR JERI……. 

Just before you move out of state you will meet your now husband on your seventeenth birthday,,,, we stopped to use a payphone at a Speedway… ( hahah. we were paged and needed to call someone ) and you two are just not meshing but don’t let it stop you… What am I writing? I didn’t let it stop me obviously, we are married but here is the toughest lesson in life right? LOVE…..  it does not come with warning signs and no advice can ease you when you crush someones heart. This is where I heard many many dear younger self advice from the confident women I worked with and strong women who would pour their souls of lessons, but I just couldn’t fathom I would follow the same steps they were trying to get me to avoid. I did, I walked the path and I held my head down in shame for what I would do in my fits of anger and what I pushed deep down to ignore out of the sake of Love. Scary what a person can file away in a memory when you are ashamed of your own actions… Dear Jeri… don’t forget the pain you caused but don’t settle for less out of guilt.

The twenties were not my kindest years but also the years I loved to look back on and see the grace that God had given me. I saw the good in the darkest of situations and fought through the roughest times to be where I am now. I just shared only a few of the dear younger self situations. What I really would want to  hear is my future self saying, “ Jeri, you did it, and you did it with grace, love, and dignity.” I want to live a life that will make myself proud to be around. Guess what? You made it with the protection of God and always have…… Remember that when you are at the deepest pit of worry, anger, regret, and it feels lonely and hopeless… remember you made it through those times when you were younger and it molded you into whom you are now. Take pride in knowing you….!!!

Cherish each friendship because God placed each one of your dearest friends in your life at the exact moment needed. Some have stayed and some have moved in other directions and that is okay. Life is all about changing and it is okay to say goodbye to those relationships that are fading. I will wish that I could tell myself it starts to get easier with age but it doesn’t, it only becomes less painful with each year of growing. 

Never regret your past but truly take accountability for your actions, learn from them because if you don’t acknowledge what you can change, well you won’t , and you will be stuck in repeat forever. FAIL…. FAIL … FAIL and you will and I did sometimes eloquently enough that no one saw and sometimes I  did it publicly. I tell myself not to fear what others think and this is me trying to fight through my own fears… well it is okay to fear but it is not okay to live life helplessly awaiting the what if’s. Again we could all tell ourselves almost the same things to avoid, what to fight for, travel, work harder or less, get married or don’t, go to college or never finish ( like myself). I am just throwing a few of the things that I assume and when I assume I am making an ass out of u and me. Heeee heee…. Honestly we don’t know what our future holds but I do know that each hard lesson became a stepping stone , and one day I will be that fun old lady that can say whatever she wants without backlash.