Friday, August 8, 2008

Letter to Myself at 18

Thanks to Amanda over at Shamelessly Sassy for this idea! If you have a few minutes, go over and read her post from yesterday; it is kick ass!

Dear Kori,

Grab a cup of coffee (though I don't think you have started drinking it just yet-but you will, believe me!), find a comfy spot to sit, and make sure you won't be disturbed for a little while. I have some things I would like to tell you, it might take awhile.

I look at you now, thinking that you are so dumb and unattractive and worthless, and I want to hug you and tell you that it isn't true. You are none of the above, and I wish there was something I could do to make you believe it now. Your friends, mom, other people tell you it is true, but maybe it will mean more coming from your future self-I don't know. But while of course you have some weight issues (and you will always struggle, I hate to tell you), you are NOT the disgusting slob that you see in the mirror. Now granted, there IS more you could be doing-but you are not unlovable. You know that "family therapist" you and mom and Fat Phil are going to? Pretty soon the therapist is going to get tired of listening to the two of them argue and fight with you sitting in the middle, and she is going to see that maybe YOU can still be helped. You will start seeing her alone-listen to her. Let her help you. Get the chip off your shoulder and start realizing that while you may not be a total loser, you are still pretty fucked up. It is a start, sweetie.

Very soon, you are going to meet the person who will be your first boyfriend. You will meet him at a party where you discover the liberating feeling of being drunk and being the person you always wanted to be. You will lose your virginity to this young man, and you will also have imbibed 3/4 a bottle of champagne before doing so. You will also find that while sex isn't that great (don't blame him-he tried. It is supposed to hurt, dumbass!), alcohol IS, and so begins a pattern of men and alcohol that will fuel you through the next years.

You are going to meet four men who will change your life irrevocably. I won't tell you their names, because you have to be on the lookout for them on your own and make your own decisions. One of them will give you two lovely children, but you will only be married for 18 months or so, and you will not be married again until about 5 years later. It will be hard, raising two small children before you are even close to being raised yourself. If you get the idea out of your head that marriage is supposed to be easy, you two could maybe make it work out-I don't have the answer to this one.

Another of the men will give you a child that you won't be able to keep. You will fall for the gorgeous eyes and the sexy voice and the nice ass, but that is really all there is to him. Well, not true-he is very talented and smart and could do a lot of great things, but he lacks motivation and will never go any further than 60 miles from where he grew up. He will also get you pregnant and then tell you that it isn't his problem. You are going to choose adoption for this baby, and your sister will adopt-but the moment she introduces you to someone not as her sister but as her baby's birth mother, your relationship with her will be irrevocably changed. You will never again be close to her, and when you hit my age, you will no longer be speaking to one another.

You are going to drink a lot after Baby #3; it will be in many ways the beginning of the end for you. You will marry a man who is the typical "bad boy," but try to keep in mind when you meet him that there is nothing exciting about it at all; he is just another criminal who is very, very good at covering it up and saying what you want to hear. You will have a child with this man, you will get sober because of this man, and you will eventually tell him that he cannot be part of your life anymore. He will very nearly destroy you emotionally, physically, spiritually and financially, and take away what little faith left you have in men. I cannot tell you if you will ever recover completely from this-I haven't yet, though daily progress is made.

You are going to fall in love with someone almost 7 years after getting sober-and he will be "the one." He will be the one to give you an unexpected mid-life baby-try to be happy from the get go, because he is one delicious little baby. This man is going to show you that there is a difference between fucking and making love, and you will learn that it really is different when you love someone. It MEANS something. He is going to challenge you to grow and change, to examine yourself and your thought processes and your belief systems, and he isn't even going to know that he is doing it. He is going to make you laugh, and he is also going to make you cry. I wish I could tell you that you are going to finally get your "happily ever after," but I don't have the answer to that one. It doesn't look like it from where I stand, but then again, neither is all lost.

And I imagine you are sitting there with your long-cold cup of coffee, wondering why in the hell the only things I have to tell you are about drinking and men; you must be thinking, "Jesus Christ, is all I do drink and fuck? There has to be something more!" And yes, there is. There is so much more. However, where I am now in my life is in large part due to the choices I made when I was drinking. Because of the abuse and neglect and craziness of growing up the way we did, I went off the deep end and tried to fill the holes inside myself by drinking and using drugs and men in order to avoid having to deal with any of the shit. I turned my back on all opportunities for help, both intentionally and because I just couldn't see them for what they were. And I tell you this because you don't have to. You still have a whole lifetime ahead of you, and you can choose differently. You CAN go to college; you don't have to be a 36 year old single mother. The choice is yours, and it is not one I envy. I love my life the way it is now; I have worked really hard to get here, and even though it isn't perfect, it is beautiful and full and I have learned that perfect is the most ridiculous word possible to apply to this thing we call life. There is no such thing. You have to decide for yourself what YOU want, and knowing what you now know about your future, you have the chance to change it. I can't change it now, and I don't think I would want to.

And a few things that have nothing to do with men: when you find out from a friend that Angie's dad died, follow the impulse to call her. She will become your best and only real friend for years, she will love you through a lot of shit, and you are not going to have nearly enough time with her. Be a better friend-for a variety of reasons, you are at times not going to be a very good friend to her, and when she dies, you can't take it back or make up for it. Don't have regrets; take ALL your kids to see her, call her more often, and when email arrives on the scene, use it. There will be money problems but find a way-this is important. And when she DOES die, be open to all of the beautiful things and people you are going to meet-and love them not because Angie did, but because you do. This is also important.

On June 23, 2008, when a guy in a white pickup is roaming your neighborhood, get his license plate number and call the police. Listen to your gut and don't let the neighbor play down your fears-sometimes it isn't paranoia. Also, start locking your doors and don't let the kids sleep outside anymore after that day. Just trust me on this one-you will save everyone in your life a lot of fear and heartbreak and terror.

And yes, it is a cliche, but time goes by really, really fast. Money or a husband or a Jaguar are not the be-all, end all of existence-stop looking for happiness in other things and people, and find it in yourself. You don't have much time when you look at the big picture. Try to remember that you get to be in charge of your own life from now on. You can learn how to love and forgive mom, even though it doesn't seem like it right now. You can learn to take the past and use it to help you grow and change, or you can mire yourself down in it and use it for an excuse-you choose. Also, remember what I said at the very beginning of this? About how you look to yourself in the mirror? Please remember that you are not the only person in the world who sees different than what is there-give people a chance, no matter what their outside circumstances appear to be. People are amazing, lovely creatures, and we need them, honey. WE can't make it alone, and if you learn that now, you will be so much better off. Last, I love you-I did not do a very good job of doing that when I was there, but now I can-through you. Love yourself-nurture yourself-and be both your worst critic (when NECESSARY) and your most avid supporter. Life is good-don't forget that.


Kori at 36

P.S. when your sister want to highlight your hair? Don't let her.

P.P.S. One really, really great thing to look forward to? You never ever have to eat meatloaf again. Never.


Anonymous said...

I am grateful for this post.

Kori said...

Awesome post. Thanks for the glimpse.

April said...

I did not want to do this because I did not think I could get past being mad at myself for certain decisions. Thank you for showing me that this exercise is about forgiving ourselves. Kudos, Kori.

FreedomFirst said...

Hey, I like meatloaf. :P

That is pretty messed up that your sister would say something like that. Wow. I don't think I'd be speaking to her either if I were in your shoes.

I don't think I'm old enough yet to write this letter to myself. I have a feeling the changes that are going on right now will make a really, really big difference in where I end up ten years from now. So if we're still in touch in ten years, I'll write one then.

One thing I could definitely have told myself, however, is not to be afraid all the time. That standing up for what you know isn't about getting mad at other people who violate your moral ideals, but rather about putting your foot down, and demanding respect and change, when you can see that something is going horribly wrong. And not to let anyone come between me and my husband because I want him to have friends. That's not a friend.

Unknown said...

Well, that was a heartwarming, heartbreaking, and, in the case of the white truck, a thoroughly chilling letter.

Brilliant, heartfelt, and incredibly well written. I'm very much looking forward to digging through what you've already posted, and excited about what you *will* post.

And, by the way, big hugs to both versions of you. You just made a very big, very strong guy shed a couple of tears.

Mama Smurf said...

Wow! This post makes me so grateful that we do indeed grow up. Older and wiser is so cliche...but SO true! I would love to write a letter to my 18 year old self but it would take some very careful planning and editing as my entire family reads my blog. I'm kinda regretting sharing it with them to be honest. Lets just say, we have a LOT in common. Only I was MUCH younger when my poor decisions started tumbling down. I try not to regret because those decision helped shape me into the woman I am today but it's very hard sometimes. Thank you for sharing this part of you.

MarĂ­a said...

Dude that is SO awesome. You've grown so much. I love it.

Martin said...

If I didn't know otherwise, I'd have said you made half of that up.

It's been 'eventful' eh?

Tara R. said...

I just want to hug you right now.

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Anonymous said...

NICE JOB Kori! I knew you were gonna write this, so I went and checked out Shamelessly Sassy's post. Now I'm gonna steal it from you. I wish I had as much wisdom to impart on my 18 year old self.

sarah said...

Wow. Just wow. That gave me chills. I don't know you but you've inspired me to do my own!
Thank you!

Anna-b-bonkers said...

Oh wow, awesome!!
What depth!
You are such an amazing person and have sure been through a lot!
Your strength and determination blow me away, I admire you so much!

Amazing post!
It sure takes a lot to write this and I think I might try, through tears I am sure but gosh, this is moving!

OK, enough with the !!! marks, I am off :)

Colleen - Mommy Always Wins said...

Wow - if we only knew HALF back then what we know now...

Anonymous said...

Love the spam!
Love the letter to, I can't even imagine knowing at 18 what the next 14 years of my life were going to be like. It's pretty mind-boggling to think back on it now.

just jamie said...

Wow Kori. This is truly amazing. Your strength and courage to tell the truth is absolutely inspirational. I have goosebumps, which my therapist just told me are called "truth bumps." The truth can sometimes hurt, but I find it so powerful to give yourself permission to face your past. Bravo!