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  • Jaye Gaff

What I’d Tell My Younger Self


In year 8, my first year of high school {WA}, we had to write a letter to our older selves. I left that school and moved interstate for year 11 and 12, away from an abusive father and step mother, and I never thought I’d see the letter again.


They did actually send it me and I read it and I was… mortified, I guess. Some of the first words were “you won’t be alive to read this.” And I was so confident because I tried many times. I tried to die. I tried to go to the police. I told a social worker at the hospital. I told my school nurse. And none of those people did anything and that was the final nail in my coffin. Your parents don’t love you. Adults who are supposed to protect you aren’t saving you. Adults who are witnessing him throw you against a wall are standing idly by. For goodness sake, just die already.


When you live through that and then have to hear your older sister say “he never touched you”, and then have your mother appear to believe it, well, why are you even here you piece of shit?


I didn’t stop feeling suicidal after I got married. It didn’t stop when I had a child. Even with a solid marriage and a wonderful child I dreamed of cutting my flesh open. I treated that with cutting my hair so I was as ugly as I felt inside. I eventually got medication and went to therapy and, most importantly, closed the chapter on my entire family and, finally, I was free.


For whatever reason I couldn’t be around any of them. They were all tainted to me and I wasn’t willing to go through therapy to change that. I didn’t want to change that. Those relationships weren’t worth it.


My child was worth it. My Husband too. And in those early days I did it for them. And sometimes you can’t do it for yourself. Sometimes you’re still stuck in that box with the stack of goodbye letters you wrote to people you thought you loved and you can’t get out.


But, now, today, if I could write a letter or talk to my younger self I would tell her that one day you will feel better and you did it for yourself. You learned to love yourself so much that you wanted to live for you and I’d give her a hug {even though she pretends to hate them} and let her know that she is loved, by herself, she just doesn’t know it yet.


So, sure, you have an amazing kid, an amazingly kind {and dopey} Husband who is also your best friend, you have a job that you love doing the thing you always wanted to do, you buy cute dresses, your other best friend is, quite honestly, one of the greatest people you will ever meet and is one of the only people you trusted completely right off the bat and she just gets you. That friend you always ached for? That’s her but that’s also you.


You will love yourself first and so completely and you will sing without tears and you will dance and you will have a love affair with bed, pyjamas, and a stuffed squishy Pennywise and you’ll collect Star Wars art and you will unapologetically love every single inch of who you are.


I know that you think someone has to save you but you’ll do it on your own. Not because you don’t trust anyone to help {because people help} but because you’re strong and you’re brave and you’re really fucking wonderful.

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