After reading Jully Black’s open letter posted to her FB profile, addressed to her 13 year old self, I decided that as much as that year was pivotal to my understanding of relationships and my own journey, 16 was more crucial. 2005 was filled with life-changing opportunities to look at my life, and to take stock of what it was I wanted to contribute to this world. It all seems a little bit clearer at 23, and if I could change anything, it would be to have taken more photos that year.
To my 16 year old self:
There really is no one quite like you. You are special, and loved. please don’t forget that. You’re not invisible. Instead you must remember that you are cherished and valued. Do not let anyone dictate to you how you must live your life, or define yourself.
You are going to have opportunities to rise again, and you will rise above every challenge by the strength of your faith and the grace of God’s unending love. Don’t be ashamed of your faith or of the spiritual roots that have planted you where you are.
You have already begun to despise your home, and your family. Which will tear you away from them in the future, but be mindful…these are your beginnings.
There is no disowning them. Yes, there are negative memories that you will forever associate with your childhood in Jamaica, but this is your reality. If you run away from it, it will stalk you. Only when you turn to face it will you begin to have peace.
Which brings me to some of the things you are holding on to, and hiding away in your heart. There is no changing the fact that you were exposed to sex, and sexual things earlier than you could understand. Those feelings of being manipulated, or used are warranted. No one has the right to force themselves on you. It will happen again. But you must not be afraid to defend yourself. You must represent your self, always.
Yes, these things will make your evolving sexual identity difficult, but take your time. There is absolutely no rush. Your fear of losing people will make you feel desperate to display your affection. You cannot let your fear of abandonment tie you up, and make you make brash decisions.
You will continue to discover your sexuality, and will struggle with it, for years to come. Kyle will not be the last person you long to commit to but he will be your first serious relationship. Do not be ashamed of him, or how it will end.
We all make choices. You will need to learn to live with them. You will also come upon moments that are completely outside of your control. Your mother’s chronic illness, and it’s terminal repercussions had nothing to do with you, regardless of remission. You did not have a hand in her death. That is a cruel and blatant lie, that must be disregarded.
In closing, I want you to know that life isn’t easy, but it gets better. Cling to the positive moments that affirm that. Just try to keep perspective. Even amidst the rain, it’s just another type of good weather.