I Read My Childhood Journal and Here’s My Letter to That Little Girl

I recently came across my childhood journal and, with great trepidation, I read the few entries that I’d written. Admittedly, I’ve never been much of a diary keeper. The commitment to writing down my thoughts every single day was never really my thing and it still isn’t. I’d gotten this journal around Christmas when I was around 12 or 13. During that time, my life was akin to a tornado; rough, harsh, and my emotions were caught in a constant whirlpool flying alongside the cows, farmhouses, and Dorthy and Toto. I was coming off of the the heels of my mother’s passing, adjusting to new and uncomfortable living arrangements, and generally being a pre-teen that had no idea had to sort through the barrage of emotions about myself. After reading the handful of entries in my journal, I was instantly just sad. I was sad for the girl that wrote those things about herself and her life. I felt sad that a lot of the issues that my 12-year-old-self had, my adult self is still working through.

I wrote a letter to that little girl because she needs it.

Dear Latifah, 

Trying to map out who you are going to be for the rest of your life in a 20 minute, sporadic journal writing session just isn’t feasible. And yes, I know you hate that word because it was the one dad used when he said that you couldn’t return to your home state to visit your family after mom died. But, trying to sort out the type of personality you’ll have and how you’ll be perceived in the next 20 or so years is a weight that you shouldn’t put on yourself as a 12 year old. Life for you right now, it’s confusing. While it may be simple compared to this side, I know that you feel like you are on a max speed treadmill when you’ve just learned how to walk. It’s too exhausting for a 12 year old girl. 

Latifah, if I could sit you down and tell you anything it would be this. First, you are worthy of love. People do love you. Even if they don’t show it how you imagined or as bright as you’d want, they do love you and this planet needs you here. Your dad, he has no damn clue what he is doing and while he is the adult and should be in charge, I can tell you as the mom version of yourself that I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing either and am just hoping I’m not screwing up my kid too bad. There is a lot of stuff dad should be doing or saying at this time especially but he is at a loss. No one prepares for a time like this so, while you need him more than you’ve ever needed anyone, he is doing what he thinks is best. Don’t allow his poor emotional judgement force you to go through your youth jaded and looking for what he couldn’t, or wouldn’t, give in all of the wrong places. You’re better than that. 

I know this hasn’t been validated by the adults in your life but you are living through one of the most traumatic things in your life, all while being a child. Surviving this type of loss is incomprehensible. The grief feels like trying to dry swallow a pill. Sometimes it slides down, sometimes it sits in your throat like a mound of bricks, refusing to budge. And then, other times, it just won’t go down at all and no matter how hard you try to swallow it, it keeps coming back up. This I know. Even me, adult you, deals with this grief and I don’t know if it’ll ever end. That validation is important for your healing, I get that. But, even without that understanding, advocate for yourself as much as you can. Speak up when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Rest when you’re feeling emotionally drained. And when the grief feels like it’s rising up above your head, be still and pray. 

Feeling sad is normal, even without any grand heartache in your young life. Feeling angry, that is normal too. Work through those feelings instead of allowing them to swallow you up for days. That’ll be something you’ll need, trust me. 

Finally, girl leave these rat-faced boys where they are at. None of them are worth any of your time. At the first sign of friendship drama, re-evaluate that “friendship”. Remember that people lie and can be actually quite terrible, that doesn’t mean you have to meet their actions with similar actions. Remember every single day that you are loved. You are important. You are beautiful. You are a blessing. Mom prayed for a daughter like you and even if she isn’t here to tell you that, it’s true.

Healing from past traumas is a major key to not repeating those same traumas in my adult life. During my twenties, I watched my issues with mistrust, abandonment, and affection play out in other relationships over and over and over again. Now that I am in my thirties, it is my responsibility to be the advocate for my own healing. I can’t allow myself to continue to act out the scenarios of my past with characters that have no clue what is going on. Trust can be earned, security can be shown, and affection can be given. Recovering from my past will allow me to realize that.

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