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 lies. It will take you more than a year to uncover lies about the past, present and future of an acquaintance so dangerous, your health and the health of your future child will both be jeopardized. In fact, your beloved daughter will die. The pain of that loss will never go away either. #Emma was your last chance to have a child, though you will hope to open another door for several years after her loss before accepting the truth. But truth is not your enemy. Lies are. Deliberate dishonesty and deceit at levels meant to insure your destruction--financially, socially, emotionally, psychologically, and physically.
You survive the loss of your child only to have more lies disrupt the little bit of peace that remains. This time, the lies come in the shape of arrows. You will be forced to run just to survive. You will eventually have to leave your home, your friends, your job, and your life behind. And, I am sorry for it. Even three years into the future, you will still be living with the consequences of another's unethical behavior. But, that's nothing new, is it??? Your entire existence is littered with other people pushing their responsibility on to you.
The reason? You're a woman...a woman who has the gall to feel real happiness, real joy, real peace.
As of this date, you courageously choose to continue on what is a doomed 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. That money 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.
At present, 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.
#Emma is named for a clever acronym that you created for her and later trademarked 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 those who care more about a T-shirt from Marshalls than you, or your baby. Your sense of equity and fairness is the reason you see value in what essentially has none. 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.
You've written and will continue to write lots of essays on topics inspired by your experiences. You write to help others. To help yourself. 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.
You're open. Whole. Complete. It means you have faith. It means you know how to love. It also means you're smarter than most people can recognize or understand. You received 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.
You stand up and out in a world where everyone else is busy looking for a chair. You stay true to yourself and 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!
Remember that, too....
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.