Thursday, June 30, 2016

things i learned in June ...

i happen to know that emily p freeman whom i joined last month on her blog has been in italy for the past 10 or so days at a writer's retreat (and i am deeply envious) so i'm not sure if there will be a link-up for the end of june, which is actually okay as long as she posts many pictures of italy when she gets back to her blog.

where may was a month of loss and grief, june was a month of disappointments when after 160 job applications since the end of january and 8 interviews (6 of them in june alone), i still was without a job until the very last two days of the month.  it is a part-time job of which i will say that beggars cannot be choosers. it was also a month for three surgeries, one almost surgery, a potentially lethal infection, and receiving good news about now cancer free sisters. there was one other major disappointment and it was in me by an 18-year-old young woman of which i am sorry

june was a month of flowers and green trees.  a month of deer without fear, as if they know hunting season isn't for several months yet. it was a month of bumblebees and honey bees. it was a month of fear fought with faith, a month of on my knees prayer.

if you could tell your 18-year-old self some advice that might change your life, what would you say? knowing full well that if you changed something in your past, you might lose something that is very precious to you now. would that change your advice to yourself? would your 18-year-old self listen to your advice?

 dear 18-year-old you;

I wanted to write you something for your 18th birthday, now that you’re an adult, now that you’re going off to college and making decisions for your life. I wanted to write something that I wish someone had told me when I was 18, something that might have made my life different. It’s pretty hard to try and fit 36 years of experiences into one letter, and equally hard to find just one or two things that I think would make a difference for you.

So this is from me. What you choose to do with it is up to you. 


You don’t understand yet what it is like to want to do something so badly that it rips your heart out when you realize that you won’t be able to do it. You’ve never had to want for anything.

I’m not saying that as a bad thing. I guess that would be one piece of advice that I might be able to give you. Don’t make assumptions about other people’s lives or experiences, especially when you’ve never had to walk in their shoes. Open your heart, and your mind, when it comes to other people. Not everyone has had a life as good as yours.

Yes, dad made mistakes when you were young, he’s not perfect. But no one is, other than Jesus. We all make mistakes. We all have regrets. We all wish we could have made some different decisions in our past. But we are stuck with the lives we have lived. There aren’t do-overs in life. You learn from your mistakes, pick up the pieces and move on. Maybe one day you will understand that, and I hope, sincerely hope, that when you do understand it that it won’t come with as much pain as some life lessons can give.

But here is the thing that sometimes is the hardest to accept about those painful mistakes and lessons … when you look back at them with regret, you have to ask yourself, honestly, if you would change them because for as painful as they are, they usually give you the most priceless things in your life. Mom might consider Dad a mistake in her life, but that mistake gave her you, and I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t trade you for anything in the universe. Dad wouldn’t trade you for anything either.


“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” [Romans 8:28 NLT]

God also called us to treat others as we want to be treated. That would be the other piece of advice I think might help make a difference in your life. I know it is probably the hardest also. It is hard to put aside our hurts. I know. I’ve been there. Got a t-shirt. But when we hold onto those hurts, when we treat someone coldly because of how we feel they treated us, the person who gets hurt the most, in the long run, is ourselves.

If you feel Dad puts you last in his life, ask yourself where is he in your life? I don’t think you even put him on your list, and I get that. There have been times in my life when I’ve been so hurt by people that I’ve completely written them out of my life. But you can’t have it both ways. You can’t blame him for not putting you first in his life when you don’t return his phone calls or write to him, or respond to messages. Yeah, I know it sucks to have that thrown back at you, but this is what being an adult is. Taking some of the responsibility for the things that happen to us.

I know dad loves you but just doesn’t know how to connect with you, and that was and always will be the truth. But just because he hasn’t always been able to meet your expectations of what kind of a dad he should be, it doesn’t mean he loves you any less. That is the drawback of loving someone conditionally. It’s one-sided and it will always, always, always hurt and disappoint you.

I don’t expect you to change overnight because of what I’ve said. In truth, I don’t think my words will make any difference. Now. But maybe in 10 years or 20 years, or maybe if you have your own children, you might remember this letter and realize that what I say isn’t meant to hurt you or make you angry, but it is said with love and the hope that you won’t hurt as much as I did when I had to learn to love dad again. Maybe for you, you’ll learn faster than I did, with less resentment, and you won’t miss out on as much of his life as I missed out on with dad. Maybe he wasn’t there for you when you were growing up, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be there for you as a grown woman.

You are an amazing young woman with the entire universe at your fingertips. You are going to change lives. I hope that one of them will be dad’s life.

I don’t expect you to respond to this. I’m just asking that you don’t slam and lock that door in his face. Leave it open, be willing to accept him as he is now, changed, humbled, and regretful of the things he missed out on with you. He’s not a bad man. Don’t shut him out of your life. Even if all you ever do is occasionally send him a card or letter that says hello, just please don’t shut him out. You mean everything to him. You always have, and you always will.


Love, 54-year-old me

2 comments:

  1. Wouldn't it have been lovely as an eighteen year old to feel that someone WAS looking out for us. And that it was ok. And that within that box of darkness we would find new direction and light.

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    Replies
    1. yes. it would have been wonderful. and i think that if i had gotten a letter like that from an older me, it might have saved me a lot of pain.

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