A Letter to Me, Five Years Ago

Dear You,

It’s the year 2011.  Your life is in a very difficult place right now.  You’re in a highly volatile and abusive relationship.  You have no self-esteem or self-worth.  You’re depressed, and want to escape, but as a result of the destruction of your self-esteem and self-worth, you don’t believe that you deserve better in your life.  You believe that you deserve everything he says and does to you, because after all, he loves you right?  He would tell you the truth.

Well, I want to tell you what’s happened in the five years since.  You got out.  You found out some things, he got arrested and you ran.  You were a shattered shell of yourself, but you ran like your ass was on fire.  You’re safe now.  You’re in a safe place, here in 2016.  You started picking up the pieces of who you are and you made yourself whole again, a much stronger version of you.  You know what you want out of life and how you want and expect to be treated and will not put up with someone treating you as less.

You spent a year recovering and figuring out who you are.  At the end of that year, you met someone.  You hit it off, but were hesitant to get involved with anyone due to your history.  You played it safe, one day at a time with him.  He kept proving himself to you, without knowing the whole story of where you came from.  He was genuine with you.  You ended up getting pregnant (SURPRISE!) and you two decided to keep dating and see where it went.

Fast-forward to November 2013 and your beautiful little girl, Q was born.  The amount of love you had for her surprised you.  You didn’t know it was possible to love someone with every fiber of your being and then some.  She was your heart on the outside of your body.  You began breastfeeding.  This wasn’t a choice, but rather just the normal for you.  Formula feeding never entered your mind, because you grew up watching your mom breastfeed all six of your siblings.  You didn’t know how passionate you’d become about advocating for breastfeeding and normalizing breastfeeding.  You also didn’t know how people looked down on those who breastfeed since it was the normal in your life, but you didn’t let it phase you.  You were doing the best for your daughter and your relationship with her.

You moved in with your boyfriend the August before Q was born.  It was an adjustment and a scary one for you.  But, he kept on proving to be a good man so you tried not to worry as much.  Tried not to group him with your ex.  Tried not to fear him.

You two decided, after two years of being together (and almost two years of saying no), to get married.  Q was 15 months old, and TA-DA you were pregnant again!  You got married on January 30th, 2015.  Your dad walked you down the aisle and took so many pictures of you and your little family.  When you said your vows, you were trying so hard not to cry because you didn’t want your nose to start dripping.  Haha, the things you think of when panicking about whether or not you were making the right choice.  The wedding was small.  So, so small.  No one outside of immediate family even knew you were engaged (for all of a week) and that’s just how you wanted it.

He continually showed himself to be a wonderful friend, husband, and father to your daughter.  Fast-foward once again, to September 2015.  Baby E was born.  She was perfect.  She looked so much like her big sister.  Again, you were astounded by just how much you could love someone.  You love being a mother.

You’re also a full-time student and will graduate in six months with an associates degree.  Having a second baby in the middle of school is NOT an easy thing, but you wouldn’t change it for the world.

Over the last five years, only one truly awful thing happened.  Your dad died.  It devastated you.  He had been so constant and helped you get through the most difficult times.  Your youngest was only 2.5 weeks old, but he spent a lot of time with her prior to his death.  You were with your mother when the doctors told her the news.  You sat with her after they cleaned him up so you could see him.  I will not describe him after.  It’s an image you will never forget.  Ever.  It’ll make you stop and catch your breath when washing dishes, playing with your girls, reading a book, studying, whatever, it just hits you sometimes.  Your younger sister, CD, made it to the hospital.  You walked her back to see him.  She thought it was Grandad and not Dad.  My heart broke in a million pieces for her.  I can’t even imagine the shock and pain she felt.  Nor will I try to describe it.  Her story to tell, not mine.  You sat with them and him for probably half an hour.  By then all of your siblings were at the hospital.  They still didn’t know.  CD was still a wreck, Mom was still a wreck, you were still a wreck, but you could compartmentalize so you made the decision.  You three walked out to see them, Mom sat down with the two T’s in her lap, the boys sat on either side of CN, CD sat to their left, and you sat on the coffee table facing all of them.

You were the one to tell them that your dad, the best dad all seven of you could have ever hoped for, was dead.  He had a heart attack and died.  He was gone.  The boys both dropped their heads and didn’t look at anyone.  CN stared at me for a second in disbelief and then it hit her and she covered her mouth and burst into tears.  T1 started crying, T2 tried to hide her tears like she always does, but she cried too.  You all cried together.

You made the phone calls to Dad’s sisters to tell them.  You made the phone call to the owner of the gym.  You made so many phone calls with the news, “Dad’s dead.”  You didn’t sugarcoat it because it’s impossible to sugarcoat.  There is nothing sugar-y about it.  It’s horrific, awful news.  Dad is dead.  Gone.  Never coming back.

You helped plan the funeral.  You dealt with the cemetery to pick his plot.  You called all of his accounts.  You didn’t grieve.  Not in that first week.  You didn’t have time.  You were too busy taking care of your mom, your siblings, and your daughters.  You did not grieve in that first week.  Sure, you cried occasionally, but no, you did not grieve.  There were too many people who needed you to hold it together for them.  So you did just that.  You held them together.  You supported them and you did what needed to be done.

The whole time, your husband was there, keeping you together, being your rock, supporting you however he could and however you needed.  He was, oftentimes, the only way you got through the day.  Shortly after Dad died, you were diagnosed with post-partum depression.  Before the medication started working, you were really struggling one evening and called your husband.  He immediately left work early, and came home to help you.  He has taken such good care of you and your girls.  He makes certain you take your medications, he cooks for you, he works his ass off to provide enough so that you can stay home with your children.  He’s amazing.  You found a wonderful man.  Dad loved him.  Mom loves him.  Your siblings and extended family all like him.  He’s good to you.  Even when you fight with each other, he always fixes it.  He and you both work hard to keep your marriage good.  He treats you well.  He loves you.

You are worthy of love.  I know that in 2011, you don’t feel that way, but I’m telling you, you are so worthy of love, of REAL love, and you will find it.  You will be happy.  You will be in a good place in your life, with great things ahead of you.  You will be so much stronger than you ever thought possible.  You will be YOU again.

Hold on tight, dear you, it gets better.  I promise.

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