Back To The Feature Part XII – Richard Boyd

Letters to Your Younger Self
This week we hear from fellow blogger Richard Boyd who blogs at Thankyou for getting involved:
Richard at 18

Dear Younger Me

If you are reading this it is because we have experienced what Kurt Vonnegut only wrote about.  The sheer awfulness of the planet has offended cosmic forces so much that we are to suffer a time quake to make us reassess our lives.
We will be forced to relive the last 18 years of our lives fully aware of what will happen but unable to change it.
As a mercy we can write to our past selves to better prepare for the full joy and horrors this will bring.  Kilgore’s Creed will ready us to take control of our lives but we will need extra help from ourselves once the quake subsides and we are no longer on autopilot so we don’t make the same mistakes.
Suspend your disbelief for a moment. What I will tell you won’t change what will happen to you.  Unfortunately you will make all the mistakes I did and be powerless to avoid them.  You will be able to change how you feel about them though and learn what you need to do to avoid repeating the past once it all stops.
You are probably reading this surrounded by boxes as you pack to leave for university via a Manics concert with your friends.  At 18 this band were your lifeline and over the years the music and lyrics will still offer you that same comfort but in a very different way.
You will be carefully packing away your guitar.  While you won’t get to be a rock star you will play on stage, record an EP and write little weird songs that will leave at least one person stunned.
You are still reeling from the loss of your stepmother and the fallout of what followed.  What feels like complete severance will last a long time but there is hope of some reconciliation.
This will not be the last of your losses, there will be more and more but I’ll come to that later.
You will be nervous about moving away and living in a new city.  Be reassued that you will spend the bulk of of your time at university in the company of kindred spirits.  You will go out to clubs and occasionally have fun.   You will spend most of your time however terrified of the threat of terrible violence.
When you encounter these situations please know that for all the fear I felt at the time nothing happened.  Your actions will still be cautious but you can at least discard that useless anxiety and fear.
You will leave university and through lack of self esteem trap yourself in a job that hates you too.  This will not be forever and the skills and experiences you have will still be useful in a job that gives you a chance to if not change the world, make it at least a little better for people.
Hard as it is to believe you will get married and have children just not with your current girlfriend or the girlfriend after that.
I can already see the young me shaking his head in disbelief but no, really, you will have a wife and children and it will be someone you know very well.  So pay attention, young me, for she will quiz you on the details years later.
Earlier I mentioned the losses to come.  There’s no easy way to say this and what ever I write to you cannot fully prepare you for what will happen but I would be doing you and your children a disservice if I didn’t take this opportunity to tell you.
Your first born sons will be stillborn.  It will shatter you and the pieces will never fit right again.  It won’t get better with time but it will change.
You already know from this quote from reading the Sandman in times of crisis:
Hold on to that quote.  It will reassure you that the intensity will relent but also that these punches will still come and remind you of your love for your lost sons.
You will use the rage and sadness and use it to help others and push for change.  You will use your long dormant love of writing to make that happen.
You will go on to have three children afterwards.  Hold on to this.  Not because they will replace your sons but because their loss will make each subsequent pregnancy a time of panic and fear rather than  joyful anticipation.  Knowing that they will be safe means that you can at least enjoy the time more.
There’s so much more I could tell you but I’m running out of time.  You can’t change what has happened but you can change how you feel about it. It’s a time of reflection not regret.
“You were sick but now you are well. There is work to be done.”
Good luck young me.  It’s just a ride.
Older Me
Richard Now

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