A Love Letter to the Worst Version of Myself

Mar 1, 2024 | 2024 Spring - Letters to Myself

By Isabel Maurer

To My Younger Self,

I know what you’re going through, and I’m sorry. You’d say the same to me, I think. 

Don’t listen to your mother. I know you know that already. You think you don’t listen to her, but she’s still getting in your head. While you’re at it, don’t listen to your dad either, because he’s wrong about a lot of stuff too.

Actually, scratch that last part, because listening to your dad about some things will mean that gradually over time, the stuff he listens to you about will change his mind. I mean, it will take him hearing it from people other than you—you know, people he actually respects and didn’t change the nappies of—but he’ll change his mind, and he’ll remember that you were the first person to tell him he was wrong. Maybe. He’ll remember that eventually, at least, and he’ll tell his friends that they’re wrong as well.

Your sister is annoying and frustrating—believe me, in hindsight, you’ll realize you were just as bad. But in a few years, they’re going to tell you that they’re not your sister, they’re your sibling, and you two are going to have each other’s backs about a lot of stuff, and it’s going to make you closer than ever. They’re better than you think they are—or at the very least, they’re on their own journey, and they’ll get there. And sometimes you’re going to call each other to chat about something random, and you’ll talk for an hour, and you’ll realize that they might be the person you love most in the world and who loves you most in the world. Apart from your parents, that is, who, despite their flaws, definitely do love you—if they didn’t, they wouldn’t be so sad to say goodbye every time you leave.

You think this is hard, what you’re going through now? Well, it probably is. It’s been a few years for me. I still remember what it felt like to get a diagnosis, the specific pain after physical therapy, a few fleeting memories of the frustration and the loneliness, but I can’t remember what it felt like to be years into it with no idea if the end was in sight, never mind when that end would be. I can’t remember how I felt every hour of every day, because they all blur and blend together. I have some of my writing from then, from you, and I remember disagreeing with it months after I put it to paper. It talks about how most days I was fine, and I remember thinking that it was more accurate to say that I was only fine some days, because at one point the bad days really outweighed the good. I don’t remember when that balance shifted back, but I know it did, because I’ve had a lot of good days and not too many bad ones recently.

I can’t tell you that your struggle is worse than what’s coming, what’s with me now, because I really don’t know. You’re going to come out on the other side stronger, though. I know that sounds like a platitude. But I’m almost convinced it’s the truth. Who knows who I would be now if I had gotten to be a normal teenager? Probably insufferable.

The things that are true about you now won’t be true forever. You’re going to find new passions, and they’re going to help you get out of bed in the morning. I know it feels like nothing could do that right now, but that feeling is wrong. I won’t tell you how to find them because you will manage just fine on your own. Promise. 

When you were a child, you figured out that your parents were fallible—that they weren’t right about everything, and it was okay to disagree with them and form your own opinions. Yes, you’re going to get better at doing that, not just parroting the most recent thing you read. It’s still a challenge—I think it might be a lifelong one. We’re working on it. Anyway, sometime soon, you’re going to find out that your parents are fallible in other ways—they’ve never been young, not as long as you’ve known them, but they’ve never been old, either. That’s going to change. And you’re going to get better, so much better. There’s going to be about one family holiday where everyone’s healthy before the shoe ends up on the other foot. That’s not going to feel fair. It isn’t. I’ll let you live through that one yourself, but I thought it might be easier with more warning. 

The best year of my life so far was the worst for my family, and you’ve got that to look forward to. Work harder than I did at not regretting a minute. Love yourself and stop trying to convince yourself that everyone else needs to do it for you. There are so many cool people in the world that you haven’t met yet. You’re going to love them, and they’re going to love you. Run towards your future with open arms, and meet me here. Be exactly who you are, because I didn’t love being you, but I love being me, and I wouldn’t be who I am today without being you first. 

I love you for that. I know you’d love me too.

Yours, with sincerity,

Your older self

Isabel Maurer is a freelance writer of comedy and short stories from Lincoln, England. Her work has appeared in Document 1 and The Hard Times.

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