Dear Past Shareen (Confused, angry and lost teenager),
I know this all seems normal right now but 10 years from now you will realise how wrong you were and how dysfunctional life was. You’re going to have regrets but don’t be too hard on yourself – it’s not your fault. You don’t even know that you already have depression and anxiety and have done for some time now but you will realise in hindsight.
Hurting yourself isn’t the answer – I know it seems easier than handling all of those massive thoughts and feelings that are messed up inside of you right now with no outlet, and I know you don’t really understand that you need the professional help you’ve been offered in the past. It will come.
Alcohol is what you’ve known all of your life – whether it’s you drinking or someone else – but you don’t want to go down this road. You are so much more than a product of your environment. It will be fun for a time until it stops being fun. It becomes messy. Don’t worry – I rarely drink more than 3 times a year now and it doesn’t take much to get me drunk (I rarely get drunk though). You’ll come a long way!
You’re going to have such a great opportunity before your teen years end and you’re also going to make some massive life-changing decisions that won’t always feel like the right decision in hindsight. Accept it. Love the outcome. Keep moving forward. There’s so much more to come.
Life is hard. It has always been hard and I don’t think it gets much easier. It just changes. A lot of people have come and a lot more people will go. The right people will stay and new people will come too. It’s okay to be lonely sometimes. If only I could tell you to embrace yourself now and show you how strong you can be.
I was always rooting for you, I just didn’t know what that looked like and I let us down. I’ll make up for it. I forgive you.
Dear Current Shareen (Not quite 30 but not 25 either),
Isn’t life crazy? So much has happened in the last 9 years alone, let alone the 20 years before that.
It’s finally time to go back to therapy now – be open, be honest and be willing. This could be just what you need to move forward and to let go of the past and any bad habits you’re struggling with.
You have two amazing children – they’re strong-willed, spirited, independent and a force to be reckoned with. You’re so proud of them. They drive you mad nearly every day, in one way or another, and sometimes you are just exhausted from it all – but every time you hold them and kiss them goodnight, you know it’s worth it.
Remember, you have friends. There are so many people who care about you. Just because they don’t message or phone every day, remember that if you contact them, they would always be there. Always happy to hear from you. You’ve distanced yourself so much in the past that these relationships just take time to be rediscovered.
Well done for last year! You’ve accomplished so much in just 12 months – things that you couldn’t imagine doing a year before. Remind yourself as often as you need to of how far you’ve come.
Don’t hold other people to such high standards. You know better than anyone how disappointing people can be – no matter who they are. Don’t set yourself up to be disappointed. You don’t have to stop caring but you do need to become more selfish and accept that people are who they are. You can’t change anyone except yourself. Focus on being the best you and distance yourself from anyone who isn’t positive in that process.
Mr.A – who would have guessed? But he is the best man ever and so good for you. He cares, he protects, he understands. He makes you laugh and he is such a good father. Never underestimate him and always appreciate him. He’s worth any hardship, any lows because the highs are the best. Love him in a way he never knew he needed. Try to make him breakfast every once in a while too!
Life is still hard but you have so many goals that you are working so hard for and at times it seems impossible but never lose sight of the end-game. With Mr.A by your side, and your determination to do and be better, you’re going to get there. Never give up. You deserve all the things you desire, the life you work so hard for and the peace that is long overdue.
Since you started this draft post, your mum has died expectedly unexpectedly whilst in Africa. The story behind it all is ridiculously predictable and after the shock, the first thing you felt was guilt at how right you was about it all. All those warnings about her going out there and not coming back except in a box – you feel so guilty for saying it but you are also so angry that she didn’t listen to you. There are so many emotions involved in this loss – guilt, hope, anger, frustration and everything in between but there’s also the smile that comes with every Facebook memory and each photo she’s in. You wish things could have been different and that somehow you could have convinced her not to go but there is no time for that now. Now is the time to find a way to move forward whilst understanding you will never forget her and full of belief that she would only want what’s best for you. It is going to be a hard, long journey of grief and mourning but you will get through it with a lot of good memories. And therapy. This is something you can write more about when you’re ready.
2019 started out as a year full of positivity and hope and this has somewhat sent you reeling. You feel desperate and lost and unsure of what the future holds now – you’ve never imagined a life without mum. You’re going to make it through – you always do. Don’t doubt your ability to still have a progressive year. I love you and mum loves you too.
Dear Future Shareen (The wiser, happier, less-anxious Shareen),
I hope I’ve made you proud. I hope I’ve done enough. I really hope you’re happy, settled and loving each day as it comes.
I pray you’ve come to terms with and managed your anxiety in all the ways you needed to.
I hope you’re not lonely and you’ve formed many strong bonds that you know you can rely on.
I hope he still makes you smile, laugh, talk, feel wanted and loved and also feel grateful.
I hope they’ve grown into young adults you’re proud of and know you’ve done your best by. They’re amazing children with bright futures.
I hope you are happy in your skin, you love yourself at all stages of progress and accept your imperfections. I also hope you’ve come to terms with not being in control of everything.
I hope you’re married if you still want that, you’ve had another baby if you still want that, you’ve made all the career progression you’ve dreamed of and achieved all those goals you decided on in 2018.
I hope you feel like you’ve made mum proud in everything you’ve done. I hope you remember her with a smile on your face and love in your heart. I hope she has shown you those signs you were so desperately asking for to know she is still around for you. I hope you talk about her often and have learnt to forgive her for being selfish in love, for not being more open so you knew what was going on better and for the mess she left behind. I hope you and your sisters have all come out the other side of that with peace in your souls. Life is too short to hold onto anger and waiting for answers you won’t get.
I don’t know if you won the lottery or if it’s something you even want anymore but if you did, I hope you invested and spent wisely. If not, I hope you realised it wasn’t meant to be for you and you can do well out of pure strength and perseverance alone.
You are an amazing person with so much to look back on and be proud of. You are strong, resilient, determined and passionate. You are loving, tolerant and fair to a fault. Some of your strengths are weaknesses and vice versa but you are you and that is a beautiful thing. From the curls on your head, the freckles on your face and the stretchmarks on your belly to the life-long anxiety, not very book-smart comments and the terrible books you like to read.
I love you. I hope you love you too.