Life among other things is known for its unpredictability, including the moment it ends. Here’s what I wrote up for my kids (it’s way outside of the relationship and self-digging theme of this blog, but what the hell!):
To my Dear Children, E. and H.
I truly sincerely hope you will never have to read this letter. Because my greatest wish in life is to be around long enough to watch you grow up and become the wonderful persons I am sure you will be. With or without me around.
But life can get in the way of our desires. This is why I am writing this now. Just in case mine is not long enough to fulfill that wish. Whatever happens to me, I want you to know, it wasn’t my choice to leave your side. I would never ever ever ever ever have abandoned you if it were up to me. Even if there is an afterlife of eternal happiness, joy and peace, where there is no worry and need, I’d pass on it in a moment if I could instead be around you since I cannot be happy without you. I love you and I always will love you.
No matter what challenges the Universe has in stock for me, I will be forever grateful to it for bringing you into my life. As you will hopefully remember (hopefully as it means I get to spend more time with you from the time I’m writing this letter) I haven’t always been an ideal parent. Far from that! I sucked as a parent at times. I lost my temper, was impatient, wouldn’t try hard enough to empathise with you and try to become a better parent. But I tried. I hope that I didn’t do a bad job at it.
I want you to be happy and have long lives filled with joy, love, laughs and amazing memories. No matter how hard life gets at times, use these challenges as opportunities to learn and become stronger, kinder and wiser. Get out there and explore the world, make your own mistakes and learn from them. Be passionate about whatever you choose to do. Try not to judge others, you never know what they’ve been through to become the people they are.
Don’t be too tough on yourself either – mistakes, failures and screw-ups are all part of the journey. It’s better to try and fail than not to try and be sorry you didn’t. Now, that being said, there is one Big Exception to the rule – the self-destructive choices. I’ve made some of those myself in my life, but the best way to handle them is to stay away from them. All destructive addictions – be it the chemical ones (drugs, cigarettes, alcohol etc.), or mental ones (gambling, gaming, food addictions to name a few) – will only bring you distress, lower your self-esteem and upset your loved ones. You can do better than that, I know that!
Life has so many wonders and joys to offer, you don’t have to sacrifice your health and/or quality of life to enjoy yourselves! No matter what happens, you’re strong enough to handle it. Any addiction is a fake crutch, but you have each other, your loved ones and your friends to help you deal with anything.
Don’t lose faith in yourselves! If there is something you fear, face your fear, this is the only way to overcome it. Hiding or running away from it will only leave you vulnerable to it.
Strive for balance whatever path you choose – don’t give up parts of your life for whatever cause – it’s simply not worth it. Stand up for yourself, your close ones and the ones who are weaker than you and may need your support and protection.
The biggest wish of my heart is that you stay emotionally close. Being the two different individuals you already are, you may not feel closeness at times, but here is one thing I learned to be true – blood is thicker than water. Don’t let your differences get in the way of your loyalty, have each other’s backs at all times.
Here is something that many people won’t agree with me on –you shouldn’t judge your family members by the same merits as others. They are your inner circle. Be there for them no matter what. Don’t let others get between you either.
Friendship is another matter. There are very few people I call my true friends. They are almost as close to me as my family. These people have been loyal to me and I have been loyal to them or tried my best to do so. We have our differences, we all have lives that sometimes separate us physically. But for those few individuals I’d cross an ocean and more at any time should they need me at their side. With these people distance means nothing. I am also ready to help them with anything at any time.
There were others in my life, who I was close with at some point but then we weren’t anymore. And unless there was a real betrayal, I let them go, willingly. You see, as we go through life, we constantly change. Some people change in different directions. And then it’s time to let go. No matter how close you were in the past, you cannot live in the past. Move on and don’t look back. It’s also part of the life.
There are people we sometimes feel obligated to due to that awesome past history we had together, but if you don’t enjoy their company anymore, walk away, don’t stay with them out of pity or compassion – no one wants to be pitied and as you will learn, time is the only true scarce resource in your life, don’t waste it on someone who doesn’t belong in your life anymore.
And vice versa – if someone you care for tries to leave, let them go, don’t fight for a place in their life, the people who are right for you will be willing to make place for you. Sometimes it may have been your actions that caused it, but sometimes it was the other person changing away from you.
There are also toxic people out there – the ones who will try to put you down or to take advantage of you. Don’t you ever let them! Whatever made them the way they are – sad, poisonous and bitter, don’t let their misery get to you. If they bully you, if they try to make you angry, upset, jealous, and miserable or feel bad about yourself, it’s them who are worthless or struggling or lost, not you. Again, don’t judge them, something turned them into who they are, but don’t let them poison you either.
Just turn around and walk away – if you are for some reason stuck with their presence in your life for some time, set boundaries with them, don’t respond to whatever they are trying to do to provoke you, or else they succeed in their goal, don’t give them that satisfaction. Be smart, if the person is stronger than you or you are outnumbered, there is nothing wrong with fleeing.
You can actually get back at them by turning others against them – and reversing the situation in your favour. If that doesn’t work out, if they embarrassed you or did something else to make you feel helpless and unworthy, remember one thing, time heals. Few years from now at the most you will be in another place, surrounded by different people who won’t know anything about this hard period in your life.
Don’t seek cheap popularity – remember, having dignity and self-respect may be harder – but it’s the most satisfying way, love yourself first, respect and accept others’ right to like or dislike you. There is this saying in my mother tongue, you are not a coin for everyone to like you. Don’t trade your self-respect and integrity for the fleeing feeling of belonging – betraying your true self in exchange for approval from others won’t bring you happiness or lasting satisfaction. Moreover, as Mark Twain rightly put it, ‘Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to reform (or pause and reflect)’.
Whatever you do, try to become better persons than you are today. We are all born with different abilities and talents, so your only true competitor is your past self. Are you a better person today than you were yesterday? We all have moments where the answer is no. As long as you try again tomorrow or in a week from now, as long as it takes you to regroup, there is always a chance to answer yes sometime in the future. Don’t be harsh on yourself, but also don’t come up with excuses for your mistakes and screw-ups, or blame others for them – recognise them for what they are, own them, learn from them – that’s the only way to become a better you.
I love you to the Moon and back.
I am also proud of you and always will be.