Monday, September 14, 2015

A Letter to the Younger Me

I have written a letter to the younger me once before and it can be found at this link here. I have decided to write myself again. I find that this writing exercise can be very empowering and helps to process the things learned over the years. Memories are wonderful things, because they are yours alone and no one can take a memory away from you.

Dear Emily Rose at 17,

Not everything in life will be enjoyable. There will be tough situations thrown at you that will require you to control your emotions and think with a clear head. In order to make progress and move forward in your life, it would be beneficial for you to learn how to control your emotions sooner rather than later. This skill is very valuable for you and I want you to be more comfortable in your own skin. When you finally learn about how to control your thoughts, controlling your emotions will become easier. Don’t give up on yourself and stay focused on your goals. I know you can overcome anything life throws at you, because I know how strong you are and how much you have overcome already.

Some things will happen in life that nothing I could say to you would prepare you for. I would like to warn you not to explode your emotions on everyone else when something bad does happen. You may very well push away the one person who has always been there for you. I just want you to think about your actions and words before they happen to cause damage to the rest of your life.

As time goes on, so does life. Things will happen in life that you cannot control and although you would like to be able to control everything, it would be best to learn how to let some things go. The past is gone and dwelling over what you should’ve done differently will not change what has already happened. Instead, I want you to try your best to learn from those situations. You will see that everything happens for a reason and although you may not understand the reason at first, have faith that in the end everything will work out for the best.

A very important thing to remember is that not everything in your life will be difficult or unpleasant. There will be great times with fantastic people who enlighten your mind and warm your heart. I wish more than anything that you would spend more time appreciating the enjoyable and less time worrying or dwelling. The more time you spend being grateful the better you will feel inside. There are many reasons for you to smile. You just need to open your eyes and see how beautiful your life can be.

I need you to know you have potential and will accomplish the things you set your mind to. I am very proud of your achievements in college and how you managed to graduate with your bachelor’s degree. Yes it may take you longer than you had planned, but nothing in life will always go the way you had planned. Remaining flexible and being able to adjust for life’s unexpected events will ensure that you continue to succeed in your life. You have what you need to succeed inside yourself. You just need to look deep inside and you will see it.

You are going to be a beautiful woman with many opportunities in life. Make sure you are present in your own life that you recognize the great opportunities offered to you. Daydreaming is fun; I’ll give you that, but don’t do it so much that you miss out on everything going on around you. At the same time, do give yourself a break at times and forgive yourself, because everyone makes mistakes. Just be sure to learn from your mistakes.

I know 10 years may seem like a long time for you at this age, but in reality those 10 years will go by quicker than you expect them to. You will have a daughter who depends on you to help her grow up and be an adult on day. Don’t let the precious moments slip away. Make sure to enjoy the little things, because once they are gone, they won’t seem so little any more. Love your life, because it’s the only one you will have. Make the most of each day and don’t let a day go by that you aren’t loving life. Even when it’s hard, life is still beautiful.

Most of all remember to be there for yourself, even when you feel like no one else is.

Love forever,
Yourself at 27  

Thursday, September 10, 2015

My 7 year old Daughter's Grief

My daughter was 6 years old when my mom passed on. My daughter is now 7 and it has been 6 months since that time. In March of this year, my mom committed suicide and to me this means she ended her life by her own means and in her own time frame. She took the ultimate control over her life and ended it. It’s hard when I think about the effect her decision has on my daughter, her granddaughter. Although my daughter has some experiences with death and she does understand that when someone dies she can never see or talk to them again. Understanding why is a completely different question. But honestly who at any age completely understands why.

My daughter doesn’t know that my mom took her own life, but she does know that grandma was sick for a very long time and passed away. She was so sad when I told her and she hasn’t stopped asking about her grandma. She asks to go see her and she knows that means at the cemetery, but to her it doesn’t matter; she just wants to see her grandma.

This is only the second death experience that she has had. The first was my dad’s mom when my daughter was 4-5 years old. When this happened my daughter went through a phase worrying about if I was going to die. She kept telling me that she didn’t want me to die. I tried to explain to her that I wasn’t dying and that sometimes things happen in our life that we just can’t control. I know these ideas were complex for her to understand at that age, but I tried to comfort her, the best I could and I know that knowledge can be comforting.

Now that death has happened again to her and she was very close to my mom, I worry about the effect all this has on her. She has been acting more down and sad since my mom died, but she is only 7 and I wonder if she is feeling similar to how I feel and I hope not. I still struggle with sad thoughts and I can’t stop myself from crying sometimes. My daughter has broken out into tears randomly a few times over the past few months and when I ask her what’s wrong, she always tells me she misses her grandma Nana very much. The time between these crying spells has gotten longer and this makes me feel like she is starting to handle her grief better.

I have never gotten upset with my daughter for crying like she does. I wish I had the right words to comfort my little girl during this tragic experience. I tell her I love her and I hold her. I let her know that it’s okay to cry, but that it is important to remember the good times as well as smile at those good times. I reassure her that I love her and am here for her. I let her talk about what she is thinking and I answer any questions she has to the best of my ability and for her maturity level.

For the past few months I have had her in therapy on a weekly basis. Although I have a bachelor’s in Psychology and I am not completely lost when it comes to helping my daughter, I am not ashamed to ask for help since she is only 7 years old and child psychology is not my specialty. I believe therapy is helping her by playing and drawing or painting with the therapist she gets out how she is feeling and works through those feelings.

She continues to miss her grandma and I am sure she always will. I know I always will. Life is hard sometimes and this may well be the hardest situation I have had to cope with my entire life thus far. I wonder if my daughter will struggle with this as hard as I have. I love my daughter with all my heart and it hurts me deeply to see her get so upset. She seems to be doing better though and I think with time she will just fine.