She Already Knows

On my 33rd birthday I wrote an open letter to my 23 year old self discussing the crazy twists and turns my life had taken during the decade of time that had just passed. I woke up on my 35th birthday with a similar desire to write to 25 year old me, but just couldn’t bring myself to tell her what her (0ur) life looks like today. How do you tell someone who is just about to get engaged, buy a house, and land her dream job that exactly ten years from that day she’ll be single, unemployed, living in her childhood home, and checking virtually all of the boxes on the crazy cat lady score card? While I seem to be falling short on providing proper guidance to my younger self at the moment, there is no shortage of advice being sent my way. With plenty of wisdom to choose from I thought perhaps I could cobble together something for her (me) from the advice of others, but I wasn’t quite sure where to begin.

I could start with the friend of a friend who told me that she was “a mess when her husband left her” but that she “reclaimed her life” by doing all of the things she couldn’t do when they were together. Even though my husband didn’t exactly leave but rather died, I put her advice into action and tried to think of things that the confines of my marriage had prevented me from doing. All I could come up with, however, was watching movies with Ashton Kutcher in them and wearing colorful pants. Travis and I were so insanely compatible that those are literally the only two things I could think of that he despised, that I might actually like. And after perusing the Kutcher compendium on Netflix and browsing the vast world of floral leggings available in online stores, I’ve come to the conclusion that he may have actually been saving me from myself with these two very reasonable deal-breakers.

There was also the more practically focused advice from the 91 year old widow who cornered me after a church service and recommended that I invest in a life alert button since I’m “all alone now and could fall and be on the floor for days before anyone knew.” While being seen as a peer by a nonagenarian could be a shock to 25 year old me’s system, at least then she’d know that she’s not alone in all of this. My new friend had further offered to help me gain residence in her retirement community, but I had to stop short of filling out the application when she told me I wasn’t actually eligible to live there until I was 55. Perhaps someday 65 year old me will be able to reach 55 year old me and let us all know if this gels with our future plans.

Of course I also need to consider the potential impact on the cosmos if one of these letters were to somehow actually reach her (me). I’m not exactly sure how time travel works, but I’ve read enough science fiction to know that confronting one’s younger self with bad news is a recipe for disaster in the form of disrupted timelines and alternate realities. 25 year old me was a real go-getter. Who knows what calamities she’d inadvertently set off in pursuit of changing her fate. Worse yet, what moments of joy she may have caused us to miss as she sought to avoid her (our) own sorrow.

No, it’s better not to try and reach her. It’s better not to warn her of the things that lie ahead. After all, she already knows everything she needs to know to get through what’s to come. She knows she loves Travis and that being his wife is something she both wants and feels called to do. But she also knows that he’s not her better half (and she is not his). She knows that considering herself to be only a fraction of a person in need of finding her missing piece is at best a tired fairy tale, and at worst a socially imposed mandate that makes those living a life without a partner feel somehow incomplete. She absolutely loves the life they’re building together, but she knows that what makes their relationship work is that they are both entirely whole people who don’t complete, but rather compliment each other extremely well. She already knows that if she is ever without him she will miss him terribly, but that she can indeed go on without him because she’s strong and will only become stronger with the love and support he’ll provide during the years she has him by her side. 35 year old me may require constant reminders of all of this, but 25 year old me is a lot smarter than she (I) thinks (thought). She already knows.

4 thoughts on “She Already Knows

  1. I admire your way with words and your amazing perspective. I’ve been told there are two scenarios where people give unsolicited advice. When you get married and when you have babies. Who knew I can now add when your significant other dies.
    Love you more than anything. And just remember the more advice you get means the more loved you are.


  2. What an incredible and inspiring (yet hard-fought) perspective. I had to giggle at the life alert comment. Somebody told me the same thing when my husband and I divorced after several years. It’s the little things that bring us together, I suppose.

    Liked by 1 person

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