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Forgiving my younger self.

Good morning my loves! Welcome to day 18 of our Dry January Journaling series.

Here is today's prompt:

"What would you say to your teenage self if you could? Would you give them advice? Try to change their mind? Steer their path? Give them wisdom? What do you think 16 year old you would say to you?"

As I've grown in my healing journey, I've come to really understand why I made a lot of the decisions I did. While at first most of them seemed like I was just trying to fit in (which is true), I was also trying desperately to find safety in who I was. It was the way in which I went about finding safety that caused me so much confusion.

I believed that if I were to make sure that everyone liked me and that I could make everyone happy that I too, would be happy.

I believed the only way for me to experience joy was at the validation or praise of others. In moments of solitude as a kid, I felt extreme loneliness so I would daydream endlessly about the kind of life I would live if I was happy.

It was always surrounded by people. But as a young kid, I wasn't great at making friends all the time. I liked being in charge, I was probably pretty weird, and I remember my emotions being up and down. Not to mention, I had undiagnosed ADHD so that didn't help my social skills.

As I grew though, I learned that if I wanted friends all I had to do was make people like me. Anytime I was named disagreeable or argumentative, I would shame myself.

I would remind my inner voice that it didn't matter what I actually wanted, people liking me was more important than me being myself.

I can remember quieting the voice in my head when she wanted to speak up. Even though I tried my best to speak up when I wanted to, my emotions felt so out of control as a teenager that more often than not, my speaking up looked like rage and panic instead of what I wanted which was honesty and vulnerability.

Looking back now, on the christian, almost perfect grades, naive, 16 year old - I am not embarrassed or ashamed of the things she did. She was doing whatever she could to survive and she believed if she kept herself locked up enough - in the prison of self worth, body dysmorphia, shameful religion - that she would be safe and she would never get hurt.

I have been terrified of getting hurt my entire life. Simply because I always felt unprepared for the pain. My anxiety existed because of my fear. Of the unknown. I thought keeping who I was locked away in a cage would protect me from the pain of existing but I've learned that nothing can. No life is perfect or painless and no person exists without experiencing hurt.

So if hurt is guaranteed then I might as well be myself. Then I might as well tell the truth about who I am and who I want to be so I can get the hurt over with. So the people who need to leave can do so and then I can make room for the life I am meant to live.

When I left christianity, I lost 90% of my friends. Almost overnight, people I loved started gossiping about me and my life - I went from valued to cast out, in a couple weeks. I realized then just how conditional most people's love is. How conditional their ideas of the world and their loved ones really are. How most people will leave you if you don't become who they think you should be.

So I left. I figured if I'm going to be seen as an outcast, I might as well leave. Moving states away and starting an entirely new life, I realized what parts of me could stick around and what parts I would leave behind. It's been 6 years since I started doing that work.

I finally feel like I'm allowing myself to explore who I am. Completely shame free and totally open. I don't care if other people think it's weird that I'm interested in tarot cards or that I want a million more tattoos. I have one wild and precious life and I'm going to do whatever the hell I want with it.

That's why I love my younger self so much. She kept us so safe because she was so worried about what the world would do to her if she told the truth about herself. I'm here to let her know that we get to be ourselves and it doesn't matter what the world thinks, it matter what we think. And we are happy.

I am at peace. For the first time in a long time. I have tools and boundaries and language to help me maintain that peace. I have the tiniest social circle I have ever had in my entire life. It is absolutely blissful. I report to no one (except maybe my toddler) and I'm learning who I am and what I want out of this life. How fucking lucky is that.

That 16 year old kept me safe then because she knew we weren't ready for the life that so many of her friends had. She was wiser than I gave her credit for. Being a late bloomer was hard but for me, I'm thankful for the path I walked because it got me here. And here fucking rules.

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