A Letter to Yourself, Should You Need It

Dear Self,

It’s okay.

I know that I’m you, but if I weren’t there’d be all sorts of things I’d tell you now, right now.

If I were your mother, I’d tell you that you’re the greatest gift I ever got, and it breaks my heart to see you cry, sweetheart. I’d give you the world if I could, I’d say. But even mothers can only give so much. I hope my honesty and love are enough. Because it does break my heart to see you cry.

You are an absolute wonder, you know. That I am in some way a part of you, from when you were a too little baby to the person you are right now – this powerhouse righteous spirit you have become – is an honor and a privilege. I stand back from you because I am in awe, because to take you in completely one simply must stand back.

But I ache to come closer; I brave it when you seem to need me. I can hardly believe it, when you’re like this, that you’re like this. I forget, for all the sharpness of your tongue and gaze, the roundedness that your shoulders get. Do you want tea? Hot cocoa? We could watch a movie, you could pick it. Or you could take a nap. You know the bed in your room is always waiting for you, neatly made and with the same blankets you had when you were here. You can crack the window and shut the curtains; I remember how you used to like that.

I could get kiev for dinner. Or would you like the stroganoff? It’s really easy to make, either way, it’s no trouble and I just want to see you happy. Don’t feel badly. You’re my child, that’s all you need to know.

Or, if I were your father, I’d call you just to tell you how proud of you I am. Because, honey, each and every day I see something or hear something that reminds me of you. I’d tell you that your best is all I can ask you to do, and you’ve never disappointed me yet. I doubt you ever will. You couldn’t. I’d remind you to laugh – no. No, I’d make you laugh. I’d drag it out of you, baby, because that’s the beginning of the end with these things. I’d make sure I could hear you smiling when you hung up. And I’d call you back right away, because I forgot to say I love you right at the end there. Just to make sure I said it, because I do.

If I were your brother, I wouldn’t make light of your feelings. Because it’s serious, and I can tell. You know that I’m only joking when I do that. I’d admit to feeling exactly like you do right now, except I’ve been through it already and am at the other end. Waiting for you to come around. I’d take you out somewhere, and it’d worry me a little bit that that surprises you. Like you don’t think you’re worth my time. You’re worth everybody’s time, should you need or choose to take it. You’re a full-fledged human being, dammit, and no ordinary one at that. Go on and take up space. I’d dare you.

If I were one of the girls, even though you’ve never had the “the girls” thing, I’d listen, I’d understand, and then I’d shut up and turn on the radio. It’d be Modest Mouse or The Ark or Queen. Definitely Queen. “Killer Queen,” just for you. Because that’s what you are. And I’d drive, and we’d take the long way home. The one that takes however long you need to breathe right.

If I were your lover, I’d hold you in my arms – precious and irreplaceable. I’d marvel at your beauty and I’d handle you with gentle care. I’d describe for you those things to which – when you’re out in the dark – you are so woefully blind. I’d hold your hand and squeeze when you have to go through something I wish you didn’t. And I’d be happy to see you, with a smile I couldn’t help if I tried, at that first glimpse after a long, long day.

And if I were you (and I am), I’d take a deep breath and let myself be all those people, because I deserve them. Because they speak the truth, not comforts. I’d mother myself instead of just leaving my inner child to cry alone. I’d be the world’s greatest dad and work the smirk out of my frown lines. I’d extend brotherhood, sisterhood, to myself as I would to a neighbor; I’d do that trivial thing for myself that turns the whole day around for the better. I’d be my own best friend for once and hear my side, agree with it, and to hell – for now – with unbiased judgment. And I’d hold myself in front of the mirror and really, truly love me. I’d see myself for the lucky person that I am and smile at me. I’d be there for me, not because I have to be but because I want to be. I’d want me in my life more than anything, and I wouldn’t leave me for the world.

By then – if I were you – I don’t think I’d be crying anymore.

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