Few people have been privileged to receive a handwritten letter from me in recent years. Besides concerns over my poor handwriting, which is especially difficult to read in moments of great anxiety (which are often), I have not written many handwritten letters in recent years because I can type vastly faster and clearer than I can write by hand. Plus, for many years (from my teenage years at least), I have struggled with writers cramp that makes writing an even more painful and unpleasant experience than it would be already.
That said, today, for the second time in a little more than a month, I wrote a letter that cost me something in personal peace and trainquility. This letter, however, was not written to anyone else, not sent by postal carrier or personal envoy, but rather it was written to myself. Specifically, it was written to myself as a teenager (between the ages of fourteen and sixteen). Though the letter was short (only about a page), it cost a lot to write to myself as a young person and realize how little much has changed since those dark days.
In the 1950’s, if I have my facts correct, there was a popular song where a fellow sang that he was going to sit right down and write himself a letter and pretend that it came from his estranged partner. I don’t like to pretend to write as someone else, especially since much of the personal enjoyment and satisfaction that springs from writing for me is expressing myself in written words that I find difficult or impossible to express in personal converastion, organized logically and relatively completely.
It is sometimes no easier to write as ourselves, though. In thinking about what encouragement I could give to a younger version of myself, I had to think that many of the struggles that I faced then I still face now, whether that be a fairly large amount of anxiety and insecurity, frustrated and largely unsuccessful romantic longings, as well as the occasional trouble that occurs because of my keyboard and pen. Surely I have gotten to be much more mature since then, but in many ways I am very much the same person I was when very young. Whether that is a good thing or a bad thing is hard to say.
And yet I suppose in some fashion one can write a letter to oneself fairly easily, because our younger selves all to often remain with us. Sometimes this can be a good thing. We can often draw strength and encouragement from past successes, even as we seek to overcome poor habits and patterns of behavior, in the knowledge that if we cannot undo those more horrific aspects of our past, at least we can respect ourselves and make our scars and wounds count for something worthwhile and noble. Sometimes that is all we can do, and hopefully it may be enough. If we can gain some strength from writing to ourselves and reminding us of who we are and where we have been, by all means, let us sit right down and write ourselves a letter.