ELEVEN

LETTER TO MY 11-YEARS-AGO-SELF

Jackie,

I know you are scared and unsure and kind of hung-over from last night. I know you want to turn around and run back home to the elusive security you search for at the bottom of every bottle. I know your fears are so many they could fill up the same huge ocean with its crashing waves which are the last thing you hear right before you slip into unconsciousness from drinking just about every night.

I know you are confused as to why your medicine has suddenly stopped working. Why instead of being numb, lately you can feel it all creeping back in; the fear, the guilt, the rape, the abuse, the bad decisions–like rapid fire every night, they hit you like stray bullets in an internal war. Why alcohol, the great equalizer between you and the rest of the world, has betrayed you and left you feeling broken and alone. Why Instead of softening the edges of life like it used to, it has begun to steal your life completely.

There are other questions too, the ones people have started asking more frequently these days:

“What is actually wrong with you?”

“Where is your other shoe?”

“Who are you and why are you in my bed?”

“Can’t you just stop?”

I know you can never answer these questions. I know it’s because you are also wondering what is wrong with you.

I’m here to tell you, the answer is nothing. Not one goddamn thing.

Let me tell you some other things, because you are surely going to forget a few times on this journey.

Don’t turn around. Keep walking toward that room full of people with the same “ism” and the laughter andhands outstretched to help. Keep coming back there even when you don’t want to. Take their hands, their help, their suggestions, their lifelong friendship and even their bad advice. Take it all, because it’s free and I haven’t seen many things in this world that will save your life for nothing.

Give your phone number to that annoyingly aggressive woman you meet on your 3rd day of this journey and answer the phone when she calls. She will be your compass when you are lost in the darkest hours, and she will lead back to yourself and to God. She will be your biggest supporter, all while holding your secrets, your shame, and your broken pieces.

Even when you try to push her away, she will be right there when you come back. Her love for you will never falter. She is good and true and kind and so very human, and she will show you how to be those things as well.

Admit defeat, even though the world tells you this isn’t right. Maybe the world is right about this when it comes to other things, but not when it comes to alcohol. Please remember that every time you think you have this problem beat, you have gone too far away from the truth which lives inside your soul. If you can’t find that truth, close your eyes and remember how defeated and desperate you feel on this first day. Remember how you tried to not drink last week and all of those other times and ended up drunk anyway, as though it wasn’t even your choice, and you went on and on and on drinking until oblivion. Until the shame of it nearly ate you alive along the dawn of this very morning.

That is the truth.

I know you’ve started wondering what it would be like to go just one day without alcohol, to be among other humans as simply yourself. Without a veil or a buffer between you and the world.

To live your life free and with the power of choice.

All I can tell you is that it will be everything and nothing like what you are imagining right now.

Your life will be completely unrecognizable. There will of course be ups and downs, deaths, births, heartbreak and triumph. Yes, there will still be sex, and still with all the wrong people. There will be life, and it will be on life’s terms.

But now there will also be you. Showing up for all of it. You will bear witness to life, you will grab it by its balls, you will see it and hear it and absorb it and cherish it in a way those without your story never will, You will use that same story to help others, and that is the greatest gift of it all. there will be no buffer, no veil, nothing at all between you and the richness and fullness of the human experience combined with the spiritual one.

In a word, my friend, you get to really LIVE.

Spoiler alert, there will come a time around 10 years in, when you get far enough away from the girl you are now and start to think  that maybe she didn’t exist at all.   That maybe it will be different this time. That maybe you’ve been brainwashed into this amazing life and now you deserve a drink.

And maybe you do. Could be fine after all this time. But if it isn’t, we already know how the story ends. Ask yourself if that is a risk you are willing to take, if throwing it all away is worth it to you. Remember your truth.

Then pray for a miracle because if you are thinking this way, you need one.

It won’t hit you until the eve of your 11th year, after you’ve just spent a weekend with incredible women, being inspired and lifted up by great writers, who insisted that you are great as well. That you are enough. That you belong. And for once you will believe it.

You’ll be sitting in your safe warm home in New York City with Lilly curled up in your lap, and you’ll have trips in the calendar and money in the bank and stories pouring out onto the page. You’ll have love and light and experience and awakening and still room (and a voracious appetite) for even more. You will acknowledge the second chance you were given, right in the midst of your first one. And you will think back to this girl you are today and you will be grateful to her for continuing on and not turning around because if she had just think, my dear one,

we could have missed it all.

Thank you for my life.

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