Anne Sophie: A Letter to the Person I Could Have Been
The writer describes the feelings of loss surrounding missed opportunities and an imagined alternative life. We learn that although the ‘perfect’ life might sound more appealing, it is not always who we truly are. The writer explains that embracing trauma and navigating a newly realised path is an important part of moving forwards and developing as an individual.
I have been wondering about you since I started therapy. You’re more mythical than Bigfoot. I’ve only caught you in glimpses and I still doubt that you exist. But in some way, I believe you are out there. I try to be you and you keep slipping through my fingers like sand. You are like a dream where I think you are real, and you and I are the same person, but I always wake up disappointed, unsure and disoriented.
I wonder how growing up with a healthy parent who encouraged you to follow your dreams would have affected you. Or at least growing up without one who has shattered your sense of identity and self-perception, who hasn’t told you you’re unworthy and undeserving of love when you do or say something that they think is wrong. Maybe you’re at Oxford, graduating at the top of your class with a prestigious job lined up that you will love. Maybe you are with someone who never thought twice about committing to you. I wonder how it feels to not walk around feeling like a liability. I wonder how it feels to have healthy relationships with people who don’t run away because you’re too eager, too anxious and too damaged to ever love anyone properly. I wonder how it feels to not have the fear that you are going to mess up your life because of the limiting beliefs your trauma has passed onto you.
God, I hate you. I hate you because I am not you. I hate you because my chances of ever being you were taken away before I even had the power to change the situation. You don’t have a lost childhood to grieve. You didn’t have to cut off anyone for your own sanity. You don’t deal with constant guilt over your actions, second-guessing every move, every decision, sabotaging your dreams and relationships because you feel like you’re not good enough for anything or anyone.
I cannot be you, and it is time I let you go. I may not have gone to Oxford, but I still have the privilege of education and I have followed my dreams of studying abroad. I may be jobless now, but I know that with persistence, I will get something. I am working hard to develop healthy mechanisms to improve myself and my relationships. I may not have the life of my dreams, but I will try to come as close as possible to it. And maybe you wouldn’t have had this life, either. I can only hope that one day, you and I will fuse into the best version of ourselves that we can be.
I may not be you, but I am good enough as I am.
(PS from future me: you will find that person. You will find that job. You will start developing healthier mechanisms. You have realised that your trauma is part of you and there are pieces to heal, but you are not vying to be someone else anymore. You are in a process, and it will take a lifetime. That is okay. You’ll get there.)