Dear Young Carol

Have you ever thought of writing your younger self a letter, from your current self, letting that child know it will all be ok? I just read an online one from a news personality to his 12 year old self, regarding his coming out. (Going back to Friday’s blog just a little bit.) It was sweet, and it said all the right things that a 12 year old boy who suspects he is gay would need to hear. And his story is wonderful, it all came out well for him, so far, and that 12 year old should know that. Lucky kid!

It would be sweet if it really worked that way. Marty McFly got to learn it would probably be ok, riding back in forth in the DeLorean. A few factors here and there, something might change, but Biff will likely end up detailing your dad’s car. But I don’t know that you can ever truly reassure your younger self. I wish…

I remember a few times vividly where I hoped everything would get better. Most of those times revolved around our mom, her mental illness, and how my dad could or would eventually save the day. Being fairly introverted back then, there wasn’t ever any real conversations I recall having with anyone, because nobody ever really asked. So to be able to revisit that young girl I would love to tell her it would work out, kind of. Because some of it did, but then a lot of it didn’t in the long run. Fairytale endings are hard to come by out in the real world, especially when you sprinkle in family mental illness. Grasp on to those good times, young Carol, they will get you through, I want to tell her.

I think I would really like to tell 20 something Carol a few things the most. She was the biggest mess of the bunch, really. She wasted a lot of time and money on guys that didn’t deserve the efforts, jobs that didn’t really respect her skills and gifts, and therefore she spent too much on beer and trying to feel better about all of the previous crap. But she would be unlikely to listen anyway. She was confused, lost and didn’t have a guiding light she could recognize. It was there somewhere, she just wasn’t looking the right way. I tell people all the time you couldn’t pay me money to go back to my 20s. There was a lot to learn from it, but I am happy it is in the old rearview mirror.

Thirtysomething Carol wasn’t so bad, but she was pretty good at wasting time too. And money. They like to go hand in hand. I would tell her to slow down a little, it goes by fast as hell. Also start taking care of yourself a little better, late 40s Carol will thank you. She didn’t, and now late 40s Carol is a little ticked off. The situations improved a little, here and there, but 30s Carol was still a pretty solid knucklehead.

Fortysomething Carol is still a work in progress, for a month and a half yet. So her letter from Future Carol has to wait a little bit. But she has rebounded some, financially she is a little smarter, but still has to impose online shopping bans on herself, like maybe this week. Her love life is still a mess, but the casualties aren’t piling up at an alarming rate anymore. She isn’t very worried looking forward, because she finally takes better care of herself, although she worries that the fine folks at Miller Brewing have had to cut back on overtime shifts. Getting older is a privilege, she knows that a lot better now because of those who didn’t get to from those younger years. She is doing ok, I think really Young Carol would like to know that, I hope somewhere in the universe she sees it.

A little trip going backwards is an ok thing to do now and again. It is just important to remember to not look back for too long. You cannot undo what is behind you. Sure I wish I hadn’t wasted so much time, particularly on the guys who ended up not being worth it. But all along the way, that girl learned some stuff. Wisdom is built over time, you can’t go out and buy it wholesale. You have to earn it. If you think writing that “letter” to your younger self will help you reconcile some things, go ahead, and do it now. It’s a sweet idea. Besides, the kids in your life now probably aren’t ready to listen to your old self anyway, even though you should keep talking to them. But the sum of all your years will benefit you the most if you can pay attention to what you learned along the way. Forgive your younger self for not knowing what you know now.

I hope your Sunday is lovely, just like you. Late Fortysomething Carol said so.

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