You’re 23 years old right now sweetie and you are revelling in life! You’ve got your dream job, you’ve been with A for 5 years now, you’ve got the fancy clothes, the travel expenses, the nice holidays and all that you said you wanted! You’ve come a long way and I know you fought really hard to get here. You’ve looked after Mam when she was sick and dealt with her passing when you were 18 (gosh, you were just a baby), you dealt with your family falling to pieces, you dealt with the loneliness you felt living by yourself when Lyn moved to the UK. You used to binge eat until you were sick and take a blade to your arms as the only way you knew how to release the pain you were feeling- you got the help and support you need and now you’ve left all those negative patterns behind you. You’re only 23! I’m so proud of you my love. I know that so many times you felt like giving up and giving in but you didn’t and you’re now facing your 24th birthday- happy, strong and full of love and hope. Sweetie, I wish I could tell you it would last.
Life is about to get messy and raw- again. In a few weeks, out of the blue, A will break up with you and he’ll do it by text. A few weeks after that you will lose your job and pretty soon after that, you’re going to lose yourself. You will be consumed once again by emptiness, loneliness and pain. You’ll start smoking again, binge eating and you’ll turn yourself into a wild, fun party girl. You will seek out new ways to help you fill that inner void and emptiness. You don’t know it at the time, but you are desperate for someone to love you and you will start going home with random guys- hoping you will feel whole and complete. You will put your life at risk a few times doing this. You’ll be in a bad car crash on the way to meet a guy, write off your car, be brought back to Dublin in an ambulance and you will hook up with him later that day. You will get laser eye surgery and then the next day you will drive on windy, country roads in the pitch blackness to the guy you’re kinda seeing- you will be terrified during that drive because you can’t really see properly. You do this because you are wanting someone to love you because you don’t love you.
You continue this pattern for a while- on the surface looking like you are in full control, having the time of your life but on the inside, you will be eating yourself up. You stopped self harming in one way but have immersed yourself into a new way of hurting yourself and you will feel lost all over again.
But if anything my darling, you are resilient and your 25th birthday will mark a decision to make some changes. Your birthday sparks a realisation that you need to take better care of yourself, nurture yourself and be kind to yourself. You’ll still be confused about your career.. what you had invested the past 7 years into studying and pursuing no longer feels right for you and that scares you. You will decide to do a course in life coaching- for you. It will be a gift to you because you’ve always had the interest and you think it might help you figure out what to do next. That will be your starting point sweetie, the first step on your journey back to yourself.
When you meet Colm a few weeks later, you will resist him. You’ll try not to get close to him and you will give him such a hard time for holding the car door open and for treating you with kindness and respect- it will feel weird because you haven’t experienced it before and you feel like you don’t deserve it. After seeking it out in all the wrong places, you won’t feel worthy of real love….. but you will learn.
It will start in small steps. Simple moments when you just stop and realise that you feel good. It will be hearing your own laugh- your real laugh. The tide will turn from comforting yourself with food and a duvet to actually really caring for yourself. It will all look and feel different. You will study wellness and self care. You will start making difficult decisions- decisions that will move you out of your comfort zone but towards what you know you really want in life.
You will take your personal resources of time, money and attention and invest them in yourself. Initially, this will make you feel sick and anxious- it will not be comfortable to spend money and time on personal development. You will take all of these steps forward in spite of your feelings of unworthiness and you will keep moving forwards, always moving forwards and never giving up on yourself.
This letter was originally to be a heads up, a warning of what was to come your way but to be honest, I don’t want you to change anything you did.
I know that you did the very best you could and I (your 34 year old self) am so incredibly proud and in awe of you. You have always been precious to me, you’ve always been enough but you forgot along the way and you’re starting to remember now.
You have many strengths Paula- one being your unshakeable determination. I never realised how determined you are until I looked at how many time you fell, hit rock bottom and then picked yourself up and put yourself out there again.
You have had your heart broken into a million pieces yet you can still smile with tears in your eyes. To love is to be vulnerable, exposed and uncertain and in spite of the pain you know could come- you’ve still put yourself out there and loved with your whole heart and you know you always will.
You have a fierce and wild spirit Paula and you’re starting to let that out more, it will be a journey. But you will allow yourself to walk barefoot in the damp grass under the full moon and be present, because that is who you are. You learn to wish and dream and hope again. You embrace the spiritual and magical side of life and allow yourself to play with life again.
You feel comfortable and happy in your own skin, as your own person. You had morphed into who other wanted you to be for a time but you’ve found and embraced yourself again.
You have incredible faith in people and the beauty of the world- you learn that a boat sinks only when the water gets inside it so you’ve learnt to set and enforce boundaries and to honour what is most important to you.
You have a strength and sparkle and an ability to hold a space for others which allows them to tap into their own strength and sparkle. It’s incredibly uncomfortable at times to hold that space but it is equally incredibly important- you know because you’ve been there.
Within the next 5 and a half years, you will become a wife, mama, entrepreneur, wolf owner, writer, teacher, coach and self love advocate. I know that this sounds crazy and hard to believe considering where you are right now but it happens…..you make it happen. Paula, this is a really long winded way of me saying thank you… Thank you so much for everything. Thank you for this incredible life that I am now living – it’s all because of you and it’s all because you finally learnt to love yourself first and foremost, even through the dark times.
You are my absolute everything and it took me so long to realise that. You are incredible my love.
I love you today, tomorrow and always.
Your 34 year old self,
P.S Don’t forget my 30 day programme ‘All You Need is Love’ starts 1st July. I would love to be your guide and support you for the next month!