Dear 14 Year Old Self,
I started to write you this letter to tell you all of these things I wish we would've done differently. All of the things I wish were better for us. Tricks of the trade, helpful hints, do’s and don’ts. Blah Blah Blah. Then I stopped because the more I wrote, the more uneasy I felt so now I want to tell you something else.
I am quite a few years late for this letter, but perhaps I’m not really that late at all. The things we went through, the path our life took, the struggles, the pain, the good, and the bad were all part of our journey. Are there thinks I wish I could change? Abso-freakin-lutely. I don’t know anyone who look at their life and is 100% satisfied with every single road they took. We live, and we learn, and guess what? I learned a lot. I am still learning from my 14 year old self.
Teenage self, you gave me a run and (everyone else I knew) for our money. You battled for years with a terrible eating disorder that was successfully trouncing us daily. But you never accepted that defeat and you emerged stronger. Through all of that suffering you found yourself. I am proud of you.
Yes, I still have parts of you within me- like your sweetness and your fragility. With your help I grew up to be a resilient, brave, and compassionate human with an empathetic passion for helping others gain the same strength in their recovery.
Since being you, I’ve also learned that we don’t have to love all aspects of ourselves, but we can still accept ourselves and be happy with the person we have become. I know that although I may have taken a completely diagonal and maybe jagged road, you and I still made it, and we made it at our own pace. We made it because we wanted to.
Until recently I would harp on the fact that I didn’t do things the way some of my friends did, and I took breaks from school, and I didn’t have the big job, the fancy cars, the big house. I would feel like there was so much of life I was disappointed in.
I spent all this time feeling like a failure until one day I took a deep breath and I really evaluated my life. The things I was feeling disappointed about have so much to do with numerical value. Numbers that don’t matter. With the life I have built, I have truth, I have freedom, and I have real life experience.
With all of this in mind I want to thank you, my 14 year old self for being brave enough to never give up. I want to commend you for the vulnerability you felt every day while growing up. I am glad we went through everything together, and I am glad we have all of these memories to look back on. I truly love that we can use what we once felt as a weakness as warrior strength to give back.
Brenna is an eating disorder recovery speaker, mentor, advocate, and writer. Brenna works as mental health counselor at an eating disorder treatment facility in Massachusetts. She is also the ambassador for the Boston Chapter of Project HEAL and a volunteer with MEDA. For more information about Brenna, learn more about her on our Blog Squad page