Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Dear Cate of the Past

As a follow-up to last week's post, I'd like to share a writing exercise I did a few months ago. The idea was to pen a letter to my younger self, and so much of what I focused on had to do with the aftermath of my anxiety attack. Here it is for you to read, and if you feel so inspired, try your hand a writing one for yourself; I found it incredibly therapeutic, and you might, too.

Dear Cate of the Past,

You are going to make so many mistakes. Your streak will start around the age of nine and keep going. As of this writing, at 27, it hasn’t ended. There will be dark days when you want to die because your heart is breaking, you’re convinced you screwed up that badly. But I promise you will pull through. A lesson accompanies each misstep; look for these guideposts, and they will lead you up the impossible, imperfect mountain we call life.

Know your roots. Don’t cut them off to be a flower in a vase, blooming for three days before losing your petals. Be a motherfucking tree. Keep Skuld in mind, because she is the embodiment of the thing you’ll have to tell yourself over and over: the future is an obligation. Ignore the thoughts telling you what a failure you are, and spit in their faces when you can’t make them stop. 

There are people in your world, however small it may be, who are misguided enough to consider you a role model. Stay strong for them when you can’t do it for you. Gird yourself against the banshee-howling nights, the wind-whipped days. Recognize that you’re hitting your limit before it hits you. When necessary, use this mantra: head up, shoulders back, walk tall.

Read all the books you want, and write your stories and poems--those are the things that allow you to breathe. Likewise, there is steel in your Motor City veins, so get yourself behind the wheel when things are overwhelming; the act of driving will center you, reinvigorate you. Go home when you can; dream of snow and hockey when you can’t.

Let those boys kiss you. Get your tattoos. Never leave the house without putting on a coat of mascara. And brush that dirt off your shoulder, girl, or you’ll miss the world rising up around you.

Your not-much-wiser-but-working-on-it older self,


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