To my Child

We all have experiences and feelings we wish to share with someone, possibly to a junior we mentor, someone suffering with the same illness as we used to, or to our own children.

Here is my message. I may not have children, but I hope somehow this finds its way to either a child of my own one day or to another child who may find themselves slipping in to unhelpful, stressful behaviours, unable to see the bigger picture of life.

To my child,

I do not know if you will exist, whether I will ever be blessed to have children; whether I can carry a child or whether I will live to have the opportunity to try.

I am not dying (not that I know of presently) but I want you to know, to appreciate, that we do not know what is about to happen. Not in 1 second ahead of our time and certainly not in the next 10 years.

Yet we plan, we stress, we obsess! We make ourselves targets, tell ourselves we are not good enough, bite our nails awaiting results, we do not enjoy ourselves. Not really anyway. And sadly, this could be our last year on earth, our last week, our last day or last hour. We just do not know. I once heard ‘you will never get this day again.’ How true! And yet I did not fully absorb the advise provided from the statement. Not until recently. You will never get this day again… so I suppose we should make the most of it?

I wanted to write to you now. I wanted to explain some of my mistakes so that you do not follow in my footsteps or make the same poor decisions along your own journey. It is your journey, not mine. I have had my chance. I am not telling you what to do, but I ask that you consider my words.

I hope, pray, that you will make decisions that will make you a happier individual. That is the key, to focus on happiness. Not on success, not on how you look, not even on how you are perceived. Appearing happy is not the same as being happy. I want you to learn how important every day is and how you should attempt to enjoy it, no matter what life may bring.

When I was a child, I may have appeared to have had it all. Parents that loved me, academic praise and a wide network of friends. Yet I was lonely. So lonely. I was more concerned with how many friends I had than friends that cared or that I cared about. Concerned I would bore those friends that got too close – worried they would stop liking me if they got to know me too well or discover I was not as amazing as they may have thought from afar.

This was the same with boyfriends. Let us end it now before they turn against me. Let me hurt them rather than ‘them’ hurt me. But in the attempt to stay ‘safe,’ I stayed lonely.

I chose a relationship with food over friends, food over long term boyfriends, food over happiness. A life of isolation. Living alone, eating alone, training for miles with nothing other than me, the pavement and my running shoes. Alone. I would run around Manchester during University years, seeing people in cafes laughing and joking with housemates. I would feel the electricity in the summer air and yet not really be a part of it. Yet I sought the praise, ‘you ran how far?’ ‘you are a machine,’ ‘can you teach me how to run?’

Accolades, medals, success. They do not replace happiness. A happiness that can only be found amidst those that love you. Let people love you. Let you love you.

I ended up with a long term eating disorder. Something that haunts me now, may have had an effect on my life span and certainly has made my current day more physiologically challenging. I pray this does not happen to you. I pray you choose to enjoy yourself and look internally for life rather than seeking people’s acceptance externally. What will people be most impressed with? What will make them think highly of me? How can I get people to admire me the most? Rather than, what will make me happiest?

Looking good is not as important as feeling good. I wish I had spent less time focusing on how I should look, how perfect I could make myself appear, whether such and such had something better than I did and just been a more relaxed individual.
It brings tears to my eyes just thinking of how much life I wasted.

Valuable life I wasted on anxiety. I was the fun, bubbly person people saw and believed me to be, but I was stitched up and close to falling apart. Held together by a flimsy piece of string after years of worry, stress and just exhaustion, all for a performance. A performance of living up to what I believed people expected me to be.

I wish I had chosen to be a performer rather than the career that would ‘make people know I was clever.’

I wish I had dyed my hair red when I was 15 rather than worry people would think I was a rebel.

I wish I had got that tattoo rather than worry whether my brother would judge me.

I wish I had taken that job rather than worry whether people felt it was a mistake.

I wish I had not sought isolation rather than run from rejection.
I wish I had lived my life how I wanted to live it. I wish I had no regrets. I wish I had chosen happiness.

I am not telling you to be a reckless individual. I hope you study, I hope you work hard and realize hard work does pay off. I hope you remember to give tomorrow a consideration, not just purely think of today….but I also hope you enjoy your journey. I just hope that you are happy and make the most of every moment available to you.

How sad that I am now 30 and feel my life only really began a few years ago. I do have comforting memories and happy ones of both childhood and early adulthood. But I could have had so many more. And I have no one else to blame but myself.
Priorities are everything xxx

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