At six-years-old, if I possibly could have, I would have told myself, “Tell someone!”
At seven, eight, nine, and 10 years-old, “Tell someone!”
At 11, “I know you’re confused, but doing that is not going to make that boy like you.”
At 12, “You have immeasurable worth already, you can’t earn it. You don’t know where you fit in, but you will. You’re lost right now, but you will find your way.”
At 14, “Wait. This is not the time or place. And doing that is not going to make that boy like you either. Just WAIT.”
At 15, “Stop chasing after love. You cannot capture love. Love is given freely when it’s really love.”
At 16, “You have got to begin to love yourself, exactly as you are. Until you decide you do, no one else will.”
At 18, “I know you’re still lost and so you’re following this man. And that’s OK, for now. You will be able to find your own way soon though, just not today, and not with him.”
At 21, “Yes, this man, he’s the one, but just slow down. There’s so much time.”
At 23, “This love you’ve been given is beautiful and real, and still, it’s not going to go down like you think it will. Like you both vowed it would.”
At 30, “Don’t start drinking now, you won’t want to stop.”
At 33, “You two are partners. Don’t treat each other like adversaries.”
At 36, “Drag him to marriage counseling. Do not take no for an answer. Demand he goes with you. It will all get so much worse if you don’t get the help you both need.”
At 41, “This life, it’s going to grab you by the throat and fling you around like a rag doll soon. You will think this is how you’re going to die, that you will never survive this kind of pain because you don’t have a clue as to how. But survive it you will, and then—then you will thrive.”
The lament is fierce over what I could not tell myself when I needed to hear it, know it, believe it. Instead, mercifully, I have a daughter I can tell all of these things to. Over and over, as many times as it takes, until she understands she is everything she needs to be—already—and that she possesses all the power she needs to stand up on her own two feet and call for justice, kindness, acceptance, love. Until she knows when she isn’t extended the former or the latter, it says more about those who are unwilling or unable to give them than it will EVER say about her.
What I can now tell my daughter because I know it for sure is this: daugther, your worth cannot be earned. From the beginning, it’s been more than enough and has always been tucked tightly into every cell of your beautiful body, the body that belongs to you and absolutely no one else for any reason or circumstance. So don’t try to earn worth and don’t let anyone lay claim to your body.
Daughter, the level at which you already belong exactly everywhere you decide you do is already immense and written in the stars and it cannot be diminished by any other woman or any other man.
Daughter, there’s no chasing. There’s only receiving. And there’s only giving freely to the freely receiving. Make sure their arms are open to you just as you are before you spend your heart on them.
Daughter, do not change for anyone, doing so will only alter your true self into something you were never meant to be and this act will ultimately damage you far more deeply than any rejection ever can.
Daughter, you don’t need him. The right one will compliment you, enhance you and exalt you because that’s what love does, but you can climb to whatever height you truly aspire to reach on your own. Don’t believe any lies to the contrary. Especially and most definitely not the lies you will inevitably end up telling yourself at times.
Daughter, do the hard work and demand he does it, too. If you don’t, it’s just going to get harder. Maybe too hard.
Daughter, don’t numb. Deal. Do the things you’re afraid of, feel the feelings that scare you and then you won’t fear them anymore.
Daughter, you might get your breath knocked out of you, you might get tripped, your fall might be broken only by rock bottom and you will not think you can get back up from there. Since you can’t even breathe you’ll be sure you’re stuck there. You’ll be wrong about that. But . . . if you truly can’t get up, if the weight of what you bear is heavy enough to pin you all the way down and you can’t budge it a bit, tell me that, daughter—tell me and I’ll pick you up and help you along until you’re sure-stepping on your own again.
Daughter, you will always, eventually, most assuredly sure-step on your own again. No matter what. You will. Believe me when I tell you these things. Because I know them for sure. And I wish I could have told them to myself.