Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Letter to Myself On My Birthday, One Year Ago

I remember how you're feeling. You feel as though you're on the cusp of something big. For the first time in six years, you are going to examine your life outside of the context of someone else. You've gotten over the initial heartache. You're done feeling sad. You've pushed your bruised, slightly battered little heart to the back of the shelf to deal with later. This year is going to be big and exciting, and it's going to change you. You can tell.

You'll use your newfound free time to cultivate friendships, figure out what it is that makes you tick, and just spend some time with you. You'll start to appreciate yourself in a way you never did before. You'll understand what people love about you, and you'll realize that as long as you love yourself, it's okay if not everyone else does. You'll grow stronger in your own opinions. When someone disagrees with you, you won't surrender or fight for your say. Instead you'll listen, share, learn, grow. You'll learn to stand up for yourself. You'll learn to fill your life with people who make you feel fantastic and love you enough to tell you things you don't want to hear. You'll stop wasting time on people who make you feel small. You'll begin to differentiate between someone else making you feel small, and you attributing your feelings of smallness to another person.

Someone will look at you carefully and say, "I think your heart is very guarded right now." You'll nod. It needs to be. You'll deal with that later.

You will feel so much joy, so much fullness, so much love. You will find beauty in everything around you. You will be shocked that you could have been missing this and not even known. You will begin to think that nothing could ever bring you down.

It can. Hold on. This one's going to hurt.

You will see sides of yourself you have never seen before. You will experience your emotions in a way you never have before. But even through the worst of it, you will feel that you are stronger. When you are lying on your back, staring up at your ceiling and feeling like your chest will cave in, you will remember a walk in the dark at three in the morning when you told yourself, "This will end. This will pass. I will be okay." And you will know it's true now, because it was true then.

You will see others around you reaching different milestones. You will think back to how you thought your life would look now, and you will feel discouraged. You will try a number of things, thinking they will bring you what you want. Some will, some won't. You will ultimately reach a sort of peace, knowing that you can achieve more than you thought you could, and knowing that your path doesn't need to look like everyone else's.

You will see your body grow stronger than you ever imagined. You will wonder if your heart can do the same. You will consider re-examining it.

Now that you have some perspective, you will immerse yourself back into some of those deep scars you have. You'll see how much further they go back than you realized. You'll begin to recognize that no one else can fix you. You have to heal yourself.

You'll try to open your heart again to other people. You'll be scared, so scared that you can only love people who can't quite love you as much. Each time you'll get a little closer to what you're looking for. Each time you'll have a clearer idea of who he'll be.

You will find beauty in all these struggles. You will have enough perspective to see how much you are growing. For every time you feel bogged down by the world, you will have ten times where you feel lifted up with gratitude that your life is so damn good.

You will learn forgiveness in a more painful way than you have ever imagined. You will be overwhelmed by the wonderful, beautiful people in your life who have chosen to love you. You will learn how to protect yourself but never, ever stop loving. You will find your backbone.

I wish I could tell you that your life on this side of the year looks the way you are expecting it to. I'm not where you thought I'd be on several fronts. However, I can promise you this: I am joyful. I am peaceful. I am stronger. I am thoroughly and utterly content.

I love you, and I am so, so proud of you.

I'll see you soon.



  1. Katie - this made me tear up and get chills. You are so wonderful and beautiful in so many ways. Thank you for being my friend and happiest of birthdays to you!!

  2. You are amazing. And so many other things that I couldn't even find words for. Love you lots.

  3. After stumbling on this post when I followed the link to your five point plan (and who doesn't have a five point plan these days) I am torn between two impulses:

    (1) tiptoe silently away out of respect and awe for a heart-wrenchingly beautiful essay (after copying it and saving it to send to my grand-daughter in about 25 years); or

    (2) post a comment here to tell you that you have a real talent for this whole writing thing.

    As you can see, I chose door number 2, but I want you to know that I waited in respectful silence for several minutes before I hit the publish button.

    With sincere admiration, Schmendrick (aka President, Kitty Elliot Fan Club)

    1. I'm pretty sure this is Mr. Scott... am I right? Either way, thank you so, so much. I can't quite tell you how much that means to me.

  4. Drat! You have seen through my impenetrable disguise. And you are very welcome.

    I plan to reread your letter on my birthdays in the future and try to follow your suggestions. I hope you do, too.

    And now, if you will excuse me, I have to go yell at some kids to "Get off of my lawn" (cause that's what guys my age are supposed to be doing -- not lurking about this gol-durned internet thingy.)