What You’re Capable Of | A Letter to 17-Year-Old Me

Dear Elm,
I know what you’re thinking. “Oh God, if she’s writing a letter to me, something really must have happened – what happened??? What’d I do? Ahh shit, what am I like in a year – am I worse? AM I?” and words to that paranoid effect. I know us far better than you would give me credit for and no, that doesn’t make sense but we think in pretty much the same way so just go with it. The difference is that I know far more than you, you moronic child – and again no, that’s not self-hating, it’s just the truth.

Happy Valentine’s Day! I’m writing this today because for some reason, we take stock in these days – birthdays, when you started this blog and today because it’s associated with love. I never knew I was capable of being sentimental.

Speaking of, you have no idea what’s going to happen over the next year and just how confusing things will get. On that note, I want to tell you a few little things because you don’t know what you’re able to do when you feel panicky. So, let’s jump into a year of being an idiot – and just for the record, you stop talking about love on your blog and it’s time I started again.

In the next few days and weeks, you’re going to do something really stupid. Actually – the thing itself isn’t stupid, it’s just how you respond to it. You’re going to emotionally hurt someone close to you; you’re going to feel violently guilty but not take steps to do anything about that and in the future, that affects your relationships with people and they don’t trust you as much. You probably would know what I was talking about but it’s not a case of just “being honest” with this. You’re terrified, or you will be soon, and you don’t know how to cope with that. In short, you’re capable of running away, lying and refusing to deal with the consequences.

Let’s talk about lying for a minute. You’ve never properly, truly lied before but now is when you start: you lie about your feelings; you lie about how much that affects you; you act utterly blank and emotionless when that couldn’t be further from the truth. Looking back, I feel quite sorry for you because you lived – and still live – in a world of terror that makes you firmly believe that you deserve nothing and by doing that, you don’t let yourself live in the moment, have anything good – or hope. You lie for fear of people hating you and when you tell the truth, it either comes with negative consequences or causes irreversible panic and I wish you’d known that people care about you so much and just want to know if you’re okay. Though that doesn’t excuse anything you do, how you upset people, I – and the people involved – understand you a lot more now. Don’t throw away things just because of fear, okay?

Here’s the thing. You wouldn’t believe me when I say this but you block someone for no good reason and attempt to justify that to yourself and others by pushing the anger you feel – for the first time – onto someone else rather than yourself. You stop doing that totally when you unblock them and talk about it – and there’s another thing. Communication is amazing and you will learn to treasure the ones who are as open as they can be with you. In August, you’ll have many difficult conversations but you are capable of learning. I’m proud of you for that. Those conversations need to happen and you finally learn that the most beautiful people are the ones who don’t try to fix you – they just try to be there.

Last October, you were hurt so badly by circumstances beyond your control and this October, I’m sorry to say it happens again and you’re left wrecked from it. However, you’re able to pick yourself up a little: you rely on friends, have screaming breakdowns and move on- and can I just say, stop lying to yourself about that shit! I’d love to tell you it resolves itself, that you feel utterly fine about things in a year’s time but you don’t and that’s something you have to contend with – guilt, confusion and the persistent feeling that you’ll never be good enough. That’s bullshit and we know it but some people have a habit of making you question your own existence.

It’s not all negative. You are capable of beautiful things but I want you to discover them on your own. Trust me, if you could read this, you’d never believe me. Sometimes I don’t believe me either.

For instance, if I told you what you’ve been repressing for ages and how much you’ve been lying to yourself about someone, you’d call me a twat and break your computer. If I told you that you travel three hours on your own and meet some amazing people, that you become way more independent and that you realise feelings were okay to have, you’d glare at me in the weird way we do and ask if all of those internal theories of alternate universes were, in fact, true. They might be but I’m in your universe so deal with it.

You are capable of so many things. Having feelings again – but shhh, don’t tell anyone – and you discover so much about how your mind works. You finally go to counselling and process some emotions. You still lie but you’ve stopped lying to yourself so much and you’ve stopped twisting your own perception of reality.

I hope I can look back on this in a year’s time and that I could say I was brave. One thing I’ve learned from you is that running away and ignoring our feelings never works. They don’t just go away. Maybe tonight, I’ll make my 17-year-old self proud and tell people how I feel. Or maybe, said self wouldn’t be proud – just shocked and slightly apprehensive at how grim, wise and less self-hating I sound.

I’m still making progress. I’m not like you any more but in a way, I am – we love the same but express it differently. Just remember one thing – love isn’t scary. Neither is hope.

From Elm 🙂

21 thoughts on “What You’re Capable Of | A Letter to 17-Year-Old Me

  1. I actually felt really strange reading this post, Elm. Strange, perhaps, because I know how 17-year-old you would read and react to a post like this, I think. In a way, I’m honoured, I guess, to know you well enough to understand your writing — does that even make sense? I can’t lie, and say I know exactly how you felt throughout the last 12 months; some things just can’t be explained with words or actions or hugs — although hugs are pretty good. But I know, on the surface of it, the absolute shit you went through, and to a degree what you’re still going through. I admire you, and the strength that I don’t think you recognise within yourself, and I can’t wait to see how 19-year-old Elm reads this letter; I’m sure it’ll be a successful Elm, if nothing else XXX

  2. Hi! I nominated you for the Liebster Award! 😊https://omgryry.wordpress.com/2018/02/15/2nd-liebster-award-get-to-know-me-more/
    Ryry xx

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