2008. The year I started eighth grade. Life got messy the summer before and things have only gotten messier since. If I could go back to what I consider the “beginning” of the chapter of my life that I’m in, here’s what I wish I could say:
Dear 8th grade me,
Hi. It’s your future self. You’re 21 now, and drinking a grasshopper as you write this. I know, us drinking alcohol… weird. You don’t know it yet, But you’re not neurotypical. Okay, what does that mean? It means you don’t show atypical (“normal”) brain patterns or behaviors.. yeah, we’re actually mentally disabled. Hard to believe, huh?
So this past summer, at camp, you learned that some things in life are not as they seem. I know you’re completely crushed and lost right now. You feel like the only person who will understand is your camp counselor… but you made a mistake with her and she’s no longer in your life. Over the course of the next year, you’re going to reach out to a lot of different people: potential mentors, friends, even strangers, all because you’re desperate to find answers to all this pain and confusion. It’s going to feel really helpless. You’re going to question every fundamental aspect of your life: love and relationships, your purpose here on earth, your beliefs and your passions. You’re going to start cheating in school… please don’t. I come from the future where you did, and not only do you academically suffer from not learning that stuff in math and history, your self-esteem suffers too. You spend all of your time latching onto people, only to burn them out, along with yourself. This is one of the main symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder – you get diagnosed after high school graduation, so be prepared for this to screw you up for the next 4 years. You will have people who will criticize you frequently for your raging emotions… that also comes from Borderline… strap in and prepare to write a lot of poetry. In fact, it is probably best that you get a journal specifically for your poetry. I have one I’ve had since I was your age, and it’s like my heart is outside of my body it means so much to me.
You’re also going to have your fair share of physical challenges too. You just got diagnosed with a few different knee problems. You’re going to have to wear knee braces for the foreseeable future… you still have to wear them in 2017! Being the stubborn girl you are, you’re going to push through the pain… but sometimes you’re going to take opportunities away from others with your stubbornness… sometimes you gotta let it go girl. People will love you even if you’re not unbelievably “strong” physically.
You’ve never self-harmed. You’ve even put a razor to your skin to try to imagine what that’s like, and you swear you’re never going to cut. You even tell the youth pastor who’s worried about you that you won’t ever cut yourself – and you really mean it. Keep holding onto that as long as you can. Cutting is really addicting… and you get addicted to it. But never fear! I’m writing this at 393 days clean! Right now it’s your dream to go with the high school ministry to Romania… and you’ll be accepted on the team after Junior year. But because of your undiagnosed mental health issues, you’re going to be pulled off the team mere weeks before they leave for Romania for a month. You’re absolutely gutted. That’s when you first attempt suicide by overdosing and start cutting. A few months later you lose favor with your dance teacher and push yourself unbelievably hard dancing in the Middleton Parade. You collapse and are taken to the hospital, and you trigger life-long lung issues, almost dying from it. Please, learn how to take care of yourself. Practice radical acceptance and healthy coping. Start coloring! Play more music. Enjoy the nice weather. Write as much as you possibly can. Life’s going to get rough, and without your 100%, my past is your fate.
Dear 8th grade me… Do your homework. Go to therapy earlier than junior year. Learn how to cope with the curveballs that are coming your way. Lean on Erin, she’s the only one who stays all four years of high school and beyond. Enjoy being young. And if you ever need me, you can always find me within yourself. Stay unique girly. Rock that multicolored fake hair piece no matter what your friends say about it.