I’m very excited to welcome Louise to my blog series and so very glad she will be published next year. She has a beautiful way with words, folks. Now, say hello to Lou as she says Hi to her 12 y.o. self.
This is your 49-year-old self here. I’m a bit stouter, creakier, and have a few more creases in my skin, but inside my head, I’m still the same as you. All of the things you love—walking in the bush, swimming in the ocean, music, reading—I still love, too. You’re still here.
I’ve learnt loads in the intervening years, though, and I’d like to share a few of them with you:
Firstly, you are a good girl and you are lovable. You should have been told this from the minute you were born, so that you’d know it inside your heart. But you weren’t. If I was with you now, I’d tell you that you’re not a bad person, you’re not selfish, and you’re not a bitch, and I’d keep telling you until you believed it. You weren’t born bad, no child is. What you’ve been told is bullshit and don’t believe any of it. There’s nothing wrong with you and don’t listen to anyone who tells you differently.
That isolation and loneliness you’re feeling, it’s because of all the rubbish you’ve been told above. You are worthwhile. So march right up to those girls you look up to because you’re just as good as them.
Also, you’re an intelligent girl and you needn’t hide it. Intelligence is good. Don’t deliberately make mistakes and get things wrong so you don’t stand out in class. And tell everyone you like Mozart, love Maths, and want to study Medicine. So what if they call you a ‘brain’? There’s worse things to be called …
(There’s so much I want to tell you, young Lou, that my fingers can’t type fast enough …)
Needing time on your own and not making friends easily doesn’t mean you’re antisocial, so don’t believe that either. It will be a couple of decades before you’ll read Susan Cain and realise you’re just introverted, that’s how you’re made, there’s nothing wrong with that, and you don’t have to try to be different. The world needs introverts.
That restrictive, oppressive, Catholicism you’re being brought up with, and all those sermons telling you not to have sex before marriage—oh god, don’t get me started—don’t listen to any of it, Lou, and don’t feel ashamed of anything to do with your body. One day soon, no one will care.
I need to tell you, too, that things will get a lot worse before they get better. A really, really sad thing will happen without any warning, and it will be a long time before you’ll feel normal again. You’ll feel the deepest pain you’ve ever felt, but at the same time, you’ll feel yourself expanding. I know you don’t believe this is possible—but it is, and you will survive. Not just that, but you’ll grow from it. It will be the making of you, and you’ll put it to good use. Forever after.
I’ll tell you something else, too: you will fall many times over the next decade. You’ll make mistakes from which you think you can’t recover. But each time, you’ll face up to it, claw your way through, and learn big lessons.
One day, in the not-too-distant future, you’ll meet a wonderful man with whom you’ll make your own family and you’ll be happy. Except every now and then, your mind will slip into a deep, dark place and want to stay there. You won’t understand why it does this, and you’ll try everything to comprehend and prevent it.
It will take a long time, but with the help of a book and a wise person, you’ll realise all the lessons I’ve just told you in this letter, and they will sink in. After that, you won’t visit that dark place ever again.
And beside you will be that wonderful man you married and your four children, and you’ll look back at your twelve-year-old self and your 22-year-old self and your 32- and 42-year-old selves, and you’ll see how you’re still all of those people, the same yet different. And you’ll see that everything happened for a reason and led you to where you are, and you’ll be at peace.
With lots and lots of love,
PS. On the Monday after the end-of-term pub crawl in third year, don’t forget to look at the window on the left when you enter the Medical Sciences building. He’s left you a note. I didn’t look and missed it.
PPS. And the next day, on the Tuesday, don’t dally like I did when you leave the lecture theatre because he’s waiting for you in the hall outside.
PPS. Your daughter will share a birthday with Mozart. Sorry about the spoiler, but I knew you’d be excited by that.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Louise is a Perth writer whose first novel will be published in September 2017 by Allen and Unwin. It was shortlisted for the 2014 City of Fremantle-TAG Hungerford Award and prior to that, she was awarded a Varuna Residential Fellowship to work on it.
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To see the list of authors taking part in this letter-writing blog series: CLICK
Wanting to honour the lost art of letter writing through this blog series, I also opened my fourth novel with a character writing a letter. And not just any letter. It’s a story — perhaps the most important he’ll ever tell.
The Other Side of the Season
Life is simple on top of the mountain for David, Matthew and Tilly until the winter of 1979 when tragedy strikes, starting a chain reaction that will ruin lives for years to come. Those who can, escape the Greenhill banana plantation on the outskirts of Coffs Harbour. One stays—trapped for the next thirty years on the mountain and haunted by memories and lost dreams. That is until the arrival of a curious young woman, named Sidney, whose love of family shows everyone the truth can heal, what’s wrong can be righted, the lost can be found, and . . . there’s another side to every story.
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