2.20.2007

Dear Me

This letter is part of the "Dear Me" project put together by Miscellaneous Mom (I got here via Athena Dreaming). Basically, you write a letter to yourself in the past. I enjoyed this, even while it dug up a little more than I bargained for... You should try it!

From: Me, Joy
Planet Earth
Circa 2007



To: Me, Joy
September, 1986

Dear Me,
I know you're going to think this is dead weird but also dead "brill" but this is your 35 year old self writing to you. From the future. Like in that film you just saw. Or are about to see. (I don't know). I can't explain to you how I am doing this, and I also can't give too much away for fear of violating some sort of space-time-continuum (except to say that in a few years you'll be watching a lot of Star Trek Next Generation. I know I know. The very contemplation of that right now will about make you want to run screaming for the hills, but trust me, you'll get totally into it and still not be a complete sad square. Well not sad anyway.)

So, you'll be back at school now after that interminable summer holiday of being stuck at home surrounded with fields and no shops, no car, no real friends. Just a cowfield and a few contraband fags (your first) with the rough kids from down the road. (and so no, this answers your main fear, you did not contract cancer and die from those first puffs, but try not to get too attached because they will take their toll in their own way).

You love school. "Luv luv luv" it. It's escape. It's friends. It's fun! You still don't quite get it when people moan about school. For you a whole summer or even a weekend at home makes you mope about. Don't worry, I think Mum and Dad start giving you a bit more freedom about now. But it still won't be enough. And you still need to get them to drive you anywhere you want to go. You hate them for this right now (hatehatehate 'em) but trust me, now I am a mother myself I get it. And let's face it, if you were given that extra mile you're craving right now you'd probably get yourself into all sorts of trouble. You think they don't know you go to pubs with your friends and drink pernod and black and flirt with (gasp) eighteen year olds. They do. They actually have a pretty good clue about most of the stuff you're getting up to. Even the groping and tongue things. (and yes, I know you about want to die right now, but it's ok. Really).

And yes you did read that correctly. You are a mother. And yes. I know you are jumping up and down squealing right now because this also means your latent fear of always-being-a-virgin-because-you-can't-even-get-a-tampon-to-work-were unfounded. That is about where you are at right now in terms of what-is-important-to-you. I can confirm that you do manage to "do it" one of these days. I cannot promise that it will rock your world. Orgasms will come later and you'll be figuring those out on your own. Even though at certain stages you'll have convinced yourself you've had one, trust me, you haven't. (And stop saying "I'm going to Vom." You've read enough Judy Blume by now to have started to get a handle on those matters. Seriously. Get busy.)

You're a good mother. You have two children right now. And a husband. I'll not give you any more details but can say you are happy. And if I tried to explain to you what makes you happy at 35 you won't believe me, or worse, think I am faking and get all pissed off. I will say this. You make profiteroles and pavlova and Sunday roast just like Mum now, and this makes you happy. You also know how to knit and to sew. And you have a career, which you enjoy. But not as much as the Sunday lunch thing sometimes. Your husband is hilarious and a good cook. He never makes you feel insecure in his love, even when you're not wearing any makeup. These end up being the qualities you look for, believe it or not. (Oh. BTW--George Michael is totally gay. Sorry.)

You've not realized you're a feminist yet, and right now you "fancy" a series of idiotic boys with cheap perms who are only interested in getting in your (and all your mate's) knickers. And you're pretty happy to let them (despite the "there's something wrong with me" fear--or probably because of it). I'm not here to tell you to clean up your act, but make sure you are actually enjoying yourself and not letting yourself get mauled because you desperately want to be liked. And yes, your tits do get bigger, but not overly so. And I can tell you that by the time they do you couldn't really give a toss.

That wanting to be liked, wanting to please thing is going to end up getting you into trouble one of these days. Try and watch that will you? It's all fine to be likable and popular, but it's another to only see yourself through the eyes of others. And the popularity thing. It's not all it's cracked out to be. Right now you are ignoring some girls in your class who are much much more interesting than you are right now. You know. The ones who do their homework or who pay attention during chemistry.

At this moment you are getting through by the skin of your teeth. School that is. This is going to come as a shock because you're not used to failing, but it's about now that you'll find it's not enough to be able to think on your feet during class when called on. You need to actually do some work. Stop writing secret notes to your gang and start paying attention. You've completely written off all science and maths, but you'll regret this I can promise. You like English, but just being able to say something about a poem once in a while is not going to cut it. You're going to fail. Everything. Badly. When it really matters. And it's going to be shit. You'll be OK, but it's going to be shit for a while there.

I'm hesitant to tell you that last part because in some ways I need you to fail. It brought you to where you are now, so maybe I shouldn't even be telling you about this. But at least start thinking about who your real friends are and start paying half a mind to the periodic table. I know school is an escape, but try and get more from it. Please.

Listen. I know home is a bit shit right now. You can't speak to anyone about it because it feels disloyal, and somehow shameful. The atmosphere is suffocating. Except when she suddenly smiles or makes a joke and the fog lifts and you all cling on delirious and giggling for dear life savoring the moment when things feel normal. Not oppressive. She's happy, she's happy... But then the moment disappears and the rage comes back. Or worse, the sound of the vacuum cleaner for hours and hours and nothing else.

It does get better. Home that is. Long after you have left and moved further away than you could ever have imagined. (And if you've noticed the funny spellings in this letter, it's your only clue). Your brother says that the distance you've put between her and yourself is not accidental. And this still plagues you.

But you do have a real conversations now, you and she. Conversations where you swear and she giggles and you both get tipsy. You love her. You like her. She likes you. You've always known she loves you, but she really seems to like you and not resent you now. Her mood still seeps into you when it moves to black, and you resent her for that at times, but you are learning to cope with it. Because you see another side. And you see where she might have been when you were 15 and she was... 34. Just 34. It still takes my breath away to think about how young she was. (Because, yes, that is young). And how at that age, how completely trapped and meaningless she might have felt at times. It doesn't excuse everything, but still... You get it a little better now. How, if you don't find yourself before you end up devoting yourself to family and children, how you can probably feel a bit dead a lot of the time.

I was about to tell you to go easy on her. To try and talk to her. But you and I both know that it won't work right now. You can't fix her. You're going to end up spending the next few years of your life desperately trying to please her, and you don't ever quite grow out of this. But what you do learn is that you both have much more in common than you can imagine. And you will end up talking. I promise. She wants to please to.

Someone you could lighten up a bit on is your brother. Believe it or not, but you and he will end up becoming solid friends in a decade or so. You will realize that your brother is one of the funniest and cleverest people you have ever known. You'll actually be going to him for advice and comfort, and he'll give it. Shocker, I know. Right now he is the pimply, quiet little bugger who you can't believe you're related to, and you could not show your distaste for him more openly if you tried. (I think now that it might have been a way to divert the attention, but still...) Do us a favor and let him watch The A-Team without all the dramatics for once in a while, will you? It's hard for him there too sometimes you know.

Let me see. In a few years time you'll be moving to that far off place I told you about. Do us another favor and take a much warmer coat. You have no concept of cold right now. None whatsoever.


Lots of Love,
Joy
xoxoxox

p.s. Also, no less than three times when you are living in a flat during your college years (yes, you do make it to college, but that's no excuse to shirk now) you will leave the place and lock yourself out. And you'll have the cooker on inside. Which means you'll be calling the fire brigade. Three times in as many years. Trust me, it's dead embarrassing. They send at least 4 engines each time.

If nothing else, remember to put the key on your pocket. Put the key in your pocket. Put the key in your pocket. Put the key in your pocket.....

26 comments:

Miscellaneous-Mum said...

Thank you for sending me the link to this. I really enjoyed reading it.

MiscMum ~~or, another late-comer Trekkie ;)

Mad Hatter said...

I loved this entire letter but I particularly loved the tampon but. You and Andrea have me half tempted to try this.

Her Bad Mother said...

LOOOOOVE it.

But where's the coaching on figuring out that orgasm thing by yourself? Cuz I'm guessing that former you might have wanted that sooner rather than later, no?

Amanda said...

Oh, but I never expected to cry. Something absolutely slays me about the idea of being able to go back and counsel the young women and girls that we were. So much hurt that might be avoided, but then, that's living isn't it? The hurting, the learning, the humiliation of calling in the cavalry again and again, or worse yet making the pathetic hang up calls again and again. Thank god caller id wasn't.
Your younger self sounds sweet. Your current self reads like a gem as well. Thanks for sharing. Both of you.

Mimi said...

um, i could have used the advice about the keys bit. because my post today is about locking myself out.

what a great letter -- 'if i knew then ... ' is a bittersweet genre.

Mrs. Chicky said...

If only it were that easy, to write to ourselves way back when. Life would be so much easier. It might take some of the fun out of it, but it's a trade off.

And I could have used that note about the keys a few days ago.

Random Impressions said...

Never, until one becomes a mother, does one appreciate one's own mother.

Bloor West Mama said...

What a wonderful letter. Oh the things that I would tell my younger self if I could.

I agree with Her Bad Mother...you should have given just a little hint on the orgasm bit, that is valuable information ;)

Lisa b said...

I think you are being a little too hard on your former self telling her George Michael is gay. How can she be expected to process that?

Sarah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sarah said...

sorry I deleted my post because of baaad spelling!

I so wish I could go back in time to have that chat with my awkward teenage self...

Heather said...

You have got me in tears right now...I am pregnant, but still...what a lovely amazing letter...if only we could do this!

doow said...

This made great reading. If I could write a letter to my younger self, it would probably be a lot of stern advice about 'don't fall for that teacher, you'll wonder why you did years later and be annoyed with yourself for being stupid'.

toyfoto said...

This was a wonderful read. I hope I can muster the courage to write to my young self.

BlogWhore said...

this is good.

Danielle Meehan said...

A beautiful letter. We all wish we'd had that advice when we were young. Of course we all would have ignored it. Great post.

lildb said...

the part that really got me, suckered me, brought down the house-of-pain (er, tears, okay? yeah. you made me cry. happy? 'course you are)?

the part about your brother, and how he felt about living at home, too.

(and of course about your mom being sad when you were a kid. gah. that stings a bit, to realize kids are perceptive about their mums like that.)

beautiful.

Mom101 said...

THis is fabulous. If only we could really do this. (And monopoly money was real...)

if I tried to explain to you what makes you happy at 35 you won't believe me, or worse, think I am faking and get all pissed off. This resonated the most. Hoo, boy.

ozma said...

This is very funny but also very poignant. If only we could go back and set our young selves straight--except I want to set mey current old self straight!

Kelly said...

Wow. Funny and eloquent and heartbreaking. I love the tone of reassurance. If only we could have communicated with our former selves. If only there were some way to give that pat on the shoulder. You know? The 'buck-up-kid-it's-gonna-be-alright?'

I can relate, too, to the Mom bit. I grew up with a mom prone to depression. Amazing how much it impacts you to ingest and witness that.

Thanks for a lovely post.

BlogWhore said...

i wanted to reply to your comment, but i am working at home (cough, cough, rearranging furniture, cough, cough, balanacing my checkbook, cough, cough) and i don't have my e-mail addresses.

yes, yes. thank you. most of the comments for this post were directed at all of the heartbreak or what a bitch my sister is. the real point was overlooked. the fact that i found something greater in all of the mess. u got it.

p.s. i had been considering the name change for a while. the blog-review-people only confirmed my thoughts. i like it. it has a ring to it. i am considering merchangise; shirts, bumper stickers, coozies....

kidding, only kidding.

p.s.s i like the new photo. looking good, looking good. like a bond girl. maybe more like the lead singer of garbage or montana from the real world. i'm sure you've heard this all before...well, except for the bond girl.

mad muthas said...

what a great letter. i'm very tempted to show it to my 12 year old daughter. i think she'd really get it!

Oh, The Joys said...

That was great Ginga - the part about your mom really resonated. My mom was also that young - she also felt trapped. She acted out differently, but...

Meena said...

That was a great letter! So many good tidbits to share with your younger self. I remember fearing at that age I would never be able to have babies b/c I was such a late bloomer and it wasn't until I was 14!!! that I had my period. I was probably the only girl in the world to be happy to get my period!

Your relationship with your mother really resonated with me. Not the anger so much, it was sadness instead. It wasn't until I became a mother that I started to understand a little, to see her as not just my mother, but a person.

slouching mom said...

This is just lovely. Spot-on. And now I must go, for I see I have some archives to read...

You are herewith on my blogroll, gingajoy! (Not that that's any great honor, because I have ten or so readers, but anyway...)

Adventures in Baby Fat said...

How very brave of you to go to such depths. This was just beautiful! Tears and everything. Everything so true.

And the tampon? Yeah, your 15-year-old self and my 15-year-old self would have totally identified with each other.