Here’s the letter I wrote to my five year old self.
Hello You, You’re just five years old. You turned five in February and it’s still early in the year. From what I remember, you are excited and very ready to start school. You’re still a bit shy, but you love to play and make things and get messy and sing and dance and just be.
Until now, you have only known love.
You were born into a family who loved you from the moment you were born (even before that).
Your mum and a dad wanted you and planned for you (this doesn’t make any difference to love, but I say it because it’s part of your story).
You are cute. Golden brown hair in pig tails with ribbons (that your mum carefully does for you each morning) and a perfectly ironed school dress and shiny shoes and clean everything.
You are clearly loved.
Your brother is a few years older than you and sometimes you will see him at school, but not much. You play together after school and on weekends and the two of you will share a bond that goes beyond the fact you are not very alike.
You’re in prep-school the first time you take part in a running race. This is when you realise you are no good at running. You all line up on the oval and the teacher says, “ready, set, go” and you run and you’re not as fast as some of the other kids. Until this moment you didn’t really know that being faster at running was good or bad, you just ran when you wanted to. This will be your first experience of believing you are no good at something.
One day at lunch time you’ll be playing with some of your other prep-school friends and some older girls will want to look after the younger kids because it’s fun. But you won’t be included because one of them will say, loudly to the other girls whilst pointing at you “no, she can’t come because she’s fat.” Rather than make them walk away from you, you turn your back to them and take yourself somewhere else to play, alone. To be honest I can’t really remember what you felt, I have tried many times. You just wanted to make things easier for the other kids by walking away and leaving them—you will experience this same feeling many times over.
It’s going to take you until you are 32 years old to acknowledge the patterns that have formed since this moment. Even then, you’ll question if that moment was the exact moment all of this started.
Until they called you fat, you didn’t know what you looked like and you didn’t care.
You had legs that carried you and fingers that you drew pictures with, a mind that likes to day dream, a body that liked to be held, skin that glowed brown from sunshine, hair that was wild and unruly.
If you couldn’t do things you just accepted it and found something else to do.
Now you remember wanting to wear a baggy jumper over your leotard in dance lessons.
You remember not wanting to do school swimming sports or changing from your school uniform to your sport uniform so no one would see your body.
You remember mornings in bed not wanting to get up because you had discovered that you were fat. All of a sudden fat and self-worth were very closely related.
When you are 16 when you will develop a serious eating disorder which will plague you until your late 20s. Actually, it is still with you in your early 30s but you’re a bit more strongly willed now.
You will tire of excessive exercise, diets of starvation, food diaries, calorie counting, exercise regimes.
Yet during your late teens you will be thin and tall and sun kissed and the boys will chase after you and the men will notice you and you won’t know what to do with that.
You will let men treat you badly because you think you owe them your patience because they must not like you for your body. I promise, life is showing you that there is much more to concentrate on than your body.
You will finish school and go to university, you will have friends and have boyfriends and do all the usual things young women do. There will be wonderful times and really hard times, but I promise you, this is a beautiful life.
Then you will have a career and jobs, lots of jobs and ones you don’t even know exist. Please don’t worry about all of that, because you find yourself doing work that opens your mind and teaches you things. Work is also where you will meet your very best friends.
You will travel the world and each time you do, significant things will happen. You will travel to places you never believed possible and the things you learn will make more of an impact on your life and your future than years of education.
You will have relationships, both intimate ones and friendships, that will tear you apart. Know that each time a person leaves from your life, it is meant to be. You will struggle with letting go but eventually you will get better at it and your ability to ground yourself and love yourself grows and you flow with things rather than struggle against them.
You are going to do some stupid things too. You won’t always know they are stupid until afterward, but sometimes you will actively do stupid things because that’s what humans do. This is all okay and part of your journey. I would not suggesting changing a single one of them.
The best part about you is that you never get caught up in competitiveness. This is my favourite thing about you.
Know one thing, I look at you, in photos and so clearly in memories and I love you so much.
I am healing for you now and know that all those years were our work, together. I promise you I am breaking patterns that hurt us. I am pushing through things that seem very hard.
I am with you always. I think you are the most beautiful child I ever saw and each and every difficult step I take on this path is for you.
Some days I carried you and now some days you will carry me.
I will show you how to be brave and more often you will show me how. I will use my memories of you as the source of inspiration to do my best to overcome this.
I am going to show you how the ocean looks, take you to experience the thrill of climbing a mountain, teach you how good it feels to get your hands and feet in the dirt and know we are part of it.
To float in the water, dive deep down slide through the sleekness.
To run through fields and admire the arms of hundred year old trees.
To plant food in the garden.
To nurture living things.
To hold a squirmy puppy in your arms.
To blow kisses.
To jump in puddles and see beauty in the rain.
To lay in bed at night and feel the breath move in an out of your body.
To feel your heart pumping.
To be and feel and receive and know love.
I will show you how to twirl in the wind. We can read books and talk about how life is a tapestry that we weave. I will help you to listen to your own soul’s wisdom.
I will be there when you explore art and creation and be inspired by colour and shape and movement.
I will help you really, really know that if we focus for long enough on the beautiful opportunities our physical form gives us—to hug and kiss, to walk and dance, to smile and laugh and sing. To breathe—it feels so good to breathe.
I will show you, clearly, that you when you ask life for what you want—openly, without fear, from the soul, you will get it.
I will do everything I can to stop you when you start trying to build a world out of fear. You don’t need to feel afraid (that’s why I write this).
Keep choosing only to know love.
I love you and we are showing each other the way.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Blythe Chidgey
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock