Not about pain per se, but a beautiful message of hope written by 30 year old Susan to her 17 year old self:
A letter to my 17-year-old-self
“Every year when I attend Boston Children’s Hospital’s annual MRKH conference, I’m met with the familiar, vivid memory of how I felt the first time I attended. And every year when I speak at the conference, I suppose I try to provide comfort to people who may be in the same place that I was in that first time. As I sat down to write my talk this year, I reflected on how the person I am really speaking to is myself at 17. So, this year I wrote her a letter to tell her some of the things I would want her to know.
I can still see you standing frozen outside this hospital, wondering how, when or if you’re going to find the courage to put one foot in front of the other and walk through the door. As you stand there choking back your tears, the grief and the loss that you have felt since your diagnosis feel so visceral. You haven’t told many people about MRKH*, because you just don’t have the words to speak about it and you’re so afraid of what other people might think or say…
I know that right now you would give almost anything to take this pain away; to go back to a time when you’d never heard of MRKH, or to skip forward to a time when you’ve somehow figured out how to fix it; a time in the future when you’ve fallen in love, had three children, and all of this has faded into the distant past. Right now, it feels like these are the only things that will make you feel whole again.
But I want you to know that you won’t have to wait until then for joy and meaning to creep back into your life…
So from almost 30 year old you to 17 year old you, I want you to know that I’ve got you. Be kind to yourself now, trust in your future self, and be open to the opportunities that life brings, however unexpected they may be. When moments of joy and laughter creep back into your life and catch you by surprise, let them in and hold them dearly, because there is a lifetime more of them to come. And when your 30th birthday comes around, I promise that you won’t be mourning the things you don’t have. You’ll be celebrating wholeheartedly the things that you do.” (emphasis added)
It will be very much worth your time to read the entire letter. Someone experiencing persistent pain may find strength and comfort in reading this – at the right time and place. And for some, there may be benefit in writing their own letter to their younger self. It’s a simple but powerful message for anyone who is suffering to hear – ‘I’ve got you’.
*MRKH or Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome is a congenital condition in which the vagina and uterus are underdeveloped or absent.
Tim, as usual, you are amazing to see the points of life that resonate with us all. Thank you in particular. My son is an amazing kid and I couldn’t help share this letter with him. All kids struggle and for him to think of his future self having his back the whole time that he struggles in life, would be a wonderful gift. It would also be great if I could get my clients to write their “just injured” self from the “present day” self. Even though they are still struggling with recovery, I bet they would reveal some helpful recovery options that may have been otherwise protected. Tim, thanks again.
Thank you for your very kind words. Yes, I think there could be immense value in writing to a younger ‘you’ with your shared story! As you say, I think the deep reflection involved could reveal some insights and maybe a few ‘aha’ moments.
Thank you so much for sharing this, Tim. I’m glad you feel it will mean something to people.
Thanks for writing it Susan! I have to admit that I didn’t know what MRKH was, so your writing was both profoundly moving and led me to learning.