You drove home today, your heart sinking into your stomach for 16 hours. Three years from now, you won't feel any better. Though, you will have the benefit of knowing you had the guts to go after your dreams. You will know you had the strength to know what you wanted, and, have been empowered enough to go after it. You wanted to build your family. And, you actually did that. You were successful. Sadly, your aptitude for success is not something you can transfer to others, like the title of a car. Gratitude has to be earned. Sadly, attitude doesn't...
You will write about that very subject for the next three years. That, and a sad human being you once called a friend. That same man will leave you for dead. A veritable asshole who abandons you, abandons contracts with you, but does not exactly stay away from you when he does. He continues to come back. He, and his people. He shoots arrows at you. He's not alone when he does it, but it's still incredibly painful for you to accept the truth. He will wait seven months to talk to you after that, but only in an attempt to deny his crimes because you have DNA evidence that points to him. He uses the time in between to watch you from the woods behind your house, drive by at all hours, break in, listen to you cry outside of your bedroom window, watch you with friends through the front windows near your door, read and steal your mail, and let others connected to him threaten you and your life. All of this, after abandoning you, breaking his promises, leaving you to bare his legal obligations, and, oh, his lies...so many! It will take you more than a year to uncover lies about his past, present and future so dangerous, they jeopardized your health and the health of your unborn child. Lies about family members. Lies about addiction. Lies about relationships. Lies about employment. Lies about commitment. Lies about parenthood. Lies about financial obligations. Lies on legal contracts. Lies on applications. Lies on and about things you don't even know nor want to. Deliberate dishonesty and deceit at levels meant to insure your destruction--financially, socially, emotionally, psychologically, and physically.
At any point in the next three years, this man will have the opportunity to apologize for all of the above. To acknowledge how the consequences of his unilateral decisions irreparably hurt you and your life. But, he won't. Even when you practically beg him to.
You were so frightened by what was happening, you knew you had to run to stay safe. You had to leave your home, your friends, your job, and your life behind. Just to survive.
The reason? You had the gall to feel real happiness, real joy, real peace.
As of this date, you choose to continue on your path because you believe it is the path to renewal. As if every bad thing that ever happened to you was a test. A test you passed and so now, deserve to have joy. You want to be happy. You want to do the things you never got to do because you were too busy being a mother at 17. You lived to protect your boy for nearly 25 years before you gave yourself permission to address your own needs. That doesn't happen with parents who are twice the age you were when you had your son.
Your ferocity as a parent is worthy of the lion you were born under. You gave your boy a life of privilege. You gave him opportunities to succeed. Better than all that, you were an example of success, attaining four degrees, including graduate and post-graduate. You are an international best-selling author, editor and blogger. You've also held faculty positions at multiple colleges in multiple states, including a full-time position at a Doctoral-granting institution for a decade. You have been a college professor for twenty years. In that time, you were nominated for no less than 11 teaching-excellence awards, earning five. You started a nonprofit to help defer clinically-based costs for regional brain-cancer patients, raising $30,000 in three years. You helped an entire community of acutely-ill people regain some agency over what is the third-leading cause of cancer-death in the States. You did that. When a man needed a wheelchair, you helped him get one. When a mother of two needed surgery in another state to survive, you helped her pay for her travel expenses so she could. You also put on fundraisers for Soles4Souls, helping relief-efforts for victims of natural disasters all over the globe. For your 40th birthday, instead of a party, you put on an event that put shoes on the feet of 200 people in 10 different countries. You also helped children with no families find joy at the holidays by filling their dream-gift lists. You helped raise money for breast- and ovarian-cancer patients, too. You make donations to animal shelters. You donate your time to help others over and over and over again. And, you continue to do so, even three years after this date.
You are a "public figure," working with more than 200 pop culture icons in front of live audiences during your tour with Comic Con. Yes, you are on tour! For three years now!!! Not even Britney Spears can say that. You know Stan Lee, for fuck's sake! Yet, family and friends still find you accessible enough to ask you to make your special home-made mac-and-cheese for large gatherings. To bake cakes for birthday parties. You organize brunches for all the holidays--even Mother's Day--and cook for a dozen or more people. You bake for family, friends and neighbors on a regular basis. You always give money to any homeless person you meet. You stay in touch with friends and maintain important social connections, too, even when you'd rather stay in your house and never leave again.
You named your daughter, Emma, a clever acronym that you trademarked a year after her birth...and death. A year after that, you helped kids in her name--kids without homes, kids without parents, kids with disabilities, kids with cancer, kids with autism, kids with cystic fibrosis, and children in palliative care. Your existence makes the world a better place. Period.
You're kind and generous to people who have treated you like garbage because you know better than they do. You continuously rise above every obstacle, every hurdle, every betrayal, every injustice. THAT is who you are. You are not a reflection of the rejection you receive--from anyone. Even people like the man who betrayed you and your child. By the way, though it's unimaginable to you on this date, that man NEVER has the guts to apologize or give you an ounce of kindness in the future. But he will take the time to pack up the gifts you give him. He cares more about material things than the baby he will leave behind in your belly. He cares more about a T-shirt from Marshalls than you, or your feelings. He cares more about a fucking jar of olives than making things right with the person who supported him, trusted him and cared for him. That's the sad truth. For him, not you. His actions allow you to walk away, but he can't walk away from himself. That person will treat you like trash because that's what he is. He knows nothing else. You see him as a rose that finds a way to grow through the crack in a cement sidewalk. Your sense of equity, of fairness, is the reason you see value in what equates to walking, talking fecal matter. Your biggest flaw is that you believe in humanity, but humanity needs to take responsibility and believe in themselves, too.
You are the only one who can make things right for yourself in the future. But after the next three years, you feel pretty beat up. You even want to leave the humans to their own devices. You're right; they don't deserve you. No one you share your life with really does. And that makes you incredibly sad. Even people who come to you as a friend--who know the pain you have suffered--try to take advantage of your vulnerability.
The good news is, in three years, you are even stronger than you are today. In three years, you have walked with angels, with wolves, with stags. In three years, you are the most powerful woman you will ever know. Hillary Clinton has nothing on you. You know who you are, what you are, and can see what you will become...if you stay the course. That sad-sack? He was part of the course. A disappointing part, to be sure, but only because you believe in him so much, it will take nearly three years for you to see your efforts are better spent elsewhere. Indeed, he will feel the loss of you in his life. Deeply. How can he not? But you come to recognize that trash is used to living amidst garbage. And, you're not garbage.
You've written and will continue to write lots of essays on topics inspired by your experiences. You write to help others. To help him. To help yourself. You wonder, if faced with that face again, what would you do? The question is irrelevant. Because, the person who took you for granted will neither be seen nor heard from again. That's why I'm writing you this letter. I want you to REMEMBER that you are so much more than you give yourself credit for. Because, you did ALL those amazing things listed above AFTER teen pregnancy, AFTER being a victim of domestic violence, AFTER being a single mother, AFTER surviving malignant brain-cancer, AFTER a high-grade cancer recurrence, and, AFTER coming back from disability.
Picking up what I'm putting down??? YOU are a living, breathing, walking, talking, and writing miracle. YOU. No one else. You succeed at everything you do. Everything you try. Another's failure to love is not your failure to love. Another's failure to feel is not your failure to feel. Your failure is in allowing another's irresponsibility to affect you and your life.
People that treat you badly are bad people. It's as simple as that. They think, because you're good, you're stupid, too. But you're not stupid. Far from it. You're just open. Whole. Complete. It means you have faith. It means you know how to love. You also got a full merit scholarship to 150-year old Doctoral-granting institution in the Northeastern United States known for its rigor. You graduated with honors on top of working full-time, going to school full-time, raising your family, running a household, volunteering, coaching, and, surviving cancer. You completed your Masters in nine months under even more strenuous conditions. You completed your Doctorate in three-and-a-half years while publishing and teaching full-time, too.
Need more convincing???
You read books on astrophysics--for fun! You collect languages like some women collect lip gloss. Not only that, you paint, too. Photography, poetry...the list goes on and on and on.
You are limitless yet live in a world where limits are celebrated--of course you will be beaten up and down. Of course people will try to drain you of your light, your love, your energy, your power. You make everyone else look bad. But you never balk or falter. Perhaps if your haters read more books on astrophysics, they'd understand why.
Writing or talking to a person who is dead has more value than writing or talking to a living being who is so terrified of life, he hides behind the skirts of a woman. Even if it means submitting to her manipulations. Manipulations like convincing him he's an obese ogre, when he's really Apollo-incarnate. Even if she lies to him. Keeps him childless. Even if she kills his dog, threatens him, threatens his family, and gets him hooked on drugs. Even if being with her means being connected to criminals. And, staying poor. Even when she tells him he tastes like cement just to make him feel more insecure than he already does!
That's what he chooses. Total and complete misery. That choice? It shows mental illness. You know that. You just hope and pray that things change. For his sake. You wish good things for the man who did terrible things to you. Things that cannot be undone. But you also recognize believing in a person who lacks the capacity for reason, logic, is self-sabotage. And, why sabotage yourself beyond the damage done by your saboteur??? Look at all you've accomplished in less than half a century! You aren't a victim. You aren't a defeatist. You aren't an apologist. You're a fucking immortal. Never forget it.
Never forget that you do not hold people emotional hostage either. You communicate in straightforward, honest ways. You always expect the same, but rarely get it. Yet, you remain compassionate toward those who hurt you, using wisdom in your response rather than being reactive. Being reactive is just an attempt to use fear in order to issue social-control. That's not you. People are free to express themselves with you. To make choices. Even the wrong choices.
You stand up and out in a world where everyone else is busy looking for a chair. That's why the sad man will never come near you again. He enjoys knowing that his absence hurts you. He will keep reading you for years upon years just to see it. You find that sad. Pathetic. Cowardly. Because, you do not let someone else's disconnects manipulate your heart. You stay true to yourself, your feelings. You're courageous that way. You understand that though you want acknowledgement, you do not need it. Your past is only context for your future. And a person with your unique history of overcoming incredulous obstacles and odds is made to succeed. To both survive and thrive. To teach others how to do the same. You're literally built for it. Wings and all!
You will talk to yourself again in July 2018. You will write a new letter. In that letter, you will remember who you are all over again. And, anyone who is not worthy of your wings will somehow fade into the white noise of the world a la Don Delillo. Who and what you need to succeed will find you, and you, them. You will accomplish whatever goals your unlimited-mind sets for you. You will stay healthy, vibrant, vital. You will be a voice of reason amidst the madness of human existence. You are the light in the darkness. The ohr. That's you.
You, my dear future-self, are formidable. Let no man, woman or child ever, ever make you feel small. Nor, shall you allow any other human to force you into living a small life. Now, go forth into your future and live your best life every single day. Take flight. And, soar.
Sending you positive energy, light, luck, prosperity, protection, peace, joy, happiness, and bliss for your future...a future where you will illuminate humanity. The Sun must shine every second of every minute of every hour of every day. So shall you, too.