Dear July 2014 Self,

You’re good right now. Your kids are 2 and 11. They’re healthy and happy. Gordon and you are healthy and happy. Your weight is at an all time low, and your body is strong. You trained hard and ran a half marathon this past spring. You learned about your mental and physical endurance and resilience in the face of adversity (gonna need that skill). You learned that caring for yourself makes you better able to care for others. You feel good about yourself and aside from the nagging twinges of guilt and sorrow that pop up haphazardly on most days, you’re satisfied with life.

But I’m sorry to say, that picture is about to change. Three years worth of fucked-upness is what you’re facing. Don’t worry, it’s not your kids or your husband. They are still great (thankfully). But you are personally going to be hit hard with some things that are going to mess up your mental well-being. Meanwhile, you’ll gain 75% of your weight back and your drinking, well that’s going to get to be very frequent and frequently excessive. And you’ll start smoking again (I know — wtf). But I don’t necessarily think you can prevent this and I don’t think you should get mad at yourself. You won’t roll over and die. You’ll take care of your family. You won’t completely quit taking care of yourself. You’ll even dive full force into new interests and projects. You’ll just consume too much of everything and spend quite a bit of time in a black pit where you’ll doubt yourself and analyze the same things over and over and over. Sometimes you’ll come out ahead; a lot of times you won’t. But you’ll never entirely give up for very long.

That guilt, that nagging you feel? It’s not right and you don’t deserve to have that coming at you every day. It’s a big part of all of this. You and I are finally going to let that go. I know, maybe it seems too soon to claim victory on something I haven’t yet accomplished even now in 2017, but I don’t think it is. Our brothers painted a picture that we can appreciate and understand and now I can see that the shit show is pretty much over. Or has at least shrunken into a less significant piece of annoying backstory. The ghosts are fading away now that I’m finally burying the bones. You’ll know all the gruesome details soon enough.

You and I are recently sober and not smoking anymore so nothing external is holding us back. And I’m ready to work on losing weight again. — But not all of it; you are honestly really very slim and I don’t feel like trying to maintain that. Plus, I’m kind of OK with hanging out in my imperfect skin. (I know – foreign concept.) We don’t try and cover or pluck our gray anymore either, if you can believe it.

Don’t be afraid. We’ll be better for having gone through this. For sure. I mean you’ve recently earned a good amount of confidence, but your mind is still all over the place and you’re dragging around some bullshit Jacob Marley chain. You’ve just gotta wade through a tiny little miles-wide alligator-infested swamp to get to the better days ahead.

But you know how you dream of gardens and chickens and big private spaces and how you love being in the woods with sunlight filtering through the leaves? That will be your life soon. And when you can learn to lay your burdens down long enough to breathe it all in, it will be your reward for hard work and trials endured. You will be safe again and in a place where your body and soul can be fed everything they need.

I promise.

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