Friday, June 22, 2012

An Open Letter To My Former Self

You will excuse my little melodramatic indulgence.  You are, as always, free to not read:

Dear Old Me:

This is, perhaps, the final time I will ever speak to you.

No, I'm not disavowing you.  I'm not pretending you never happened.  I'm not whistling in the graveyard, ignoring the ghosts and skeletons in the closet.

Rather, I'm going to put you away.

You are as much a part of me as my hands, my heart, my eyes.  You are as much a part of me as David and Tova and my parents.  I can never pretend you aren't there.

But you are no longer the two-ton elephant in the room.

I grew up badly.  I am not going to rehash all that.  You and I both remember all the things we felt, the anger, the isolation the lack of love.  We remember how we acted out, lashed out, how we behaved badly, how we spent all our time trying to destroy ourselves.  Telling you the specifics is simply repetitive and counter productive.

So why am I here?  Why am I writing you this final farewell?

Because I wanted to thank you.

Um, what?  I know that you are thinking that.  Why would I want to thank you?  Because it ruined my childhood and screwed up my adolescence?  Doesn't seem like anything to be overly thankful for. 

But that's where you got it wrong.  Because I could no more blame you for what happened than I can blame the rain for falling.  You didn't cause the problem.  You didn't set the circumstances.  You merely reacted to them as best as you could. 

And while many might argue you did a piss-poor job, I respectfully disagree.

Because I've seen the results of what happens to those who really did a piss-poor job of dealing with the hands they were dealt.  I've seen them die of drug overdoses, I've seen them raped.  I've seen them so addicted to drugs that they were forced to give themselves completely away for just one more spike of the needle.  I've seen them drift so far away from humanity that they would never have (and have never) been able to return.  I've seen them lose everything.  Their dignity, their religion, their possessions and their lives.

But not you, oh survivor you. Maybe you didn't shine, but you lived.  You did what you had to do.  You lashed out, you did badly, but you never crossed any lines from which there is no return.

So yes, for that I say thank you.  Because from your strength, from your survival instincts and your will, I was able to emerge.

What am I?  College graduate, good friend (hopefully), fully functioning member of the community at large and even a semi-functioning member of the Jewish community.  I am about to become a wife as well.  All this because you kept me alive and well.  So yes, thank you for that too, for everything I have today - it could only have happened due to your strength.

Yet still, I have to let you go.  Not because I hate you or because I'm embarrassed by you.  But simply because I no longer need you.  And, in fact, your presence at this point can actually be a hindrance to my future growth.  You strength, your rock hardness, can also be a stone dragging me down into the depths of the sea.

Everything I have, everything I have made myself into, was because of the strength I learned from you, because of the goodness inside yourself that you refused to let die, no matter how harsh the circumstances became (and they were harsh, make no mistake).

The people who read my blog, they think they understand what you went through.  But with the exception of two or three of them, and the possible exception of a handful more, they have no effing clue.  A few have mentioned that they were somewhat....jealous of where I am now in life.  But you and I both know that they wouldn't trade places with us if they had to live through those seven years.  More really.  And without you, they ever would have made it through those years anyway. 

What I have, everything I have, is because of you.  And I will never forget you.  But I can't take you with me going forward, or I'll never actually move forward.  Now only will I never forget you, but I will also use all of the lessons, and good qualities, that I have learned from you.

So thank you old me.  I couldn't have done it without you.


  1. did I tell you how weird it is to be so friggin proud of a person who only exists in my life in textual form?

  2. LOL - and you will be happy to note that I have and will be taking your advice to me vis a vis my mommy and the importance of forgiveness.

  3. You know that I care what happens to you,
    And I know that you care for me.
    So I don't feel alone,
    Or the weight of the stone,
    Now that I've found somewhere safe
    To bury my bone.

  4. i second colloquialy- we're all rooting for ya man!

  5. Amazing. I know a few people who have turned their life around and it is truly special. Kol Hakavod!

    1. And MAZAL TOV for your upcoming wedding :-)

  6. Yashir koach. Mazel tov. I'm in awe of the strength it's taking you to let go and be vulnerable.