23 Jan A letter to my Sixteen-year-old self
My Darling girl,
I don’t want to start off on a bad note but I just want to take the opportunity to say, you look ridiculous! You are trying to find yourself and explore different things but pretty much every single item of clothing you own is bad. Really bad. Your favourite outfit is purple flares, kids t-shirt, red checked shirt and a Nirvana top tied around your waist. You flit between Mosher and Goth – sometimes a mixture of the two – I think most of the time you are trying to dress like Kurt Cobain and Brian Molko combined. In fairness though, you don’t dress much better now, practically everything you own has skulls on it.
So your 16th birthday was pretty cool. You’ve just broken up with Andrew, he still gets you a birthday present (a Barbie cup) which makes you feel wretched but you should be glad to know he is pretty much the only person you stay in proper contact with from school. You’re best friend at the minute is Sarah and although you drift apart in a few years the next few years she helps you more than you realise or give her credit for.
You are at your heaviest right now, a size 14/16 depending where you shop. It gets you down but one day you will desperate to put weight on. What you have now most of it is boobies and hips. Damn that puberty. You will have the worst posture due to you continuously hunching from the weight of your jugs. (You will be happy to know they shrink down a wonderful D cup after your babies).
Your home life is horrendous at the moment. Mum and Dad separating has been the hardest on you being the only one left at home. Living out of a suitcase and doing a week at Mums and a week at Dads is taxing but you aren’t the only one hurting. You fail to see or understand how hard this is for your parents. It’s not your fault, you’re only 16 but cut your Mum some slack. She may be enemy number one right now but she is hurting and she needs help. Call Nathan. He’s still your brother, becoming a Dad doesn’t mean you can’t talk to him anymore and he’s probably as freaked out as you are having kids so young.
Your Sister, Natalie has grown closer to you. She seems to want to get to know you as a person rather than a little sister. When she takes you to that Pearl Jam concert for your birthday and she makes you close your eyes when the play “Black”. It will be one of the best moments of your life. That is the moment you finally “get” music. You will never, ever have a moment like that again. It still gives you goose bumps even now.
Nat has taken you to a few bars, mostly gay bars due to the fact you don’t get I.D’d there. You have some sexual encounters with some beautiful women and feel incredibly confused. After finding the courage to tell some friends that you think you might be gay, you get chased home by some girls that throw rocks at you and call you a dirty lesbian. The only thing dirty, my love, is them not you. You’re not a lesbian, you’re bisexual and one day you actually get called “my favourite bisexual friend” by Neil, which will make your day. Never, ever be ashamed of it. It’s who you are. Your husband (don’t vom!) loves the fact that you have been with women (obviously!).
That week that Mum goes on holiday and Natalie looks after you, you will get in LOADS of trouble. School go mental because you only attend one day out of five. You have your GCSE’s; this is a really stupid idea. Mum goes mental due to the general state of the house and the fact that there is now a massive road sign in her bedroom that you and Nat stole in the dead of night. You get really upset and scream at Mum that she is ruining your life. You are actually being a really obnoxious teenager. You should apologise. (She will find the funny side eventually and she still has that sign!)
A few days before your 17th birthday, your world shatters when Natalie is taken from you. All the pain, loneliness and heartache you felt before June 3rd was a walk in the park compared to this and the other traumatic events that follow this. Your darkest times of your entire life begin now.
I am so proud of you. You find strength that is beyond your years. You should fall apart because inside you feel you have broken beyond repair but you don’t. You are never the same after this. You feel even more isolated from everyone else but when everyone says – even though you don’t want to hear it – “it will get easier” it is 100% true. You never forget her. You miss her all the time but you heal, you learn to cope and live with it. Things never get back to how they were but a new life begins. Nathan and you become friends, which is probably the biggest shock to you now. You are actually really similar in your sense of humour and there is two extremely tender moments coming from Nathan in the next year that will blow your tiny mind. I wish I could come back and protect you all from it. I wish I could change it all and have Natalie still here but as you will find out soon, everything really does happen for a reason. Please don’t spend those years blaming you or feeling guilty.
Not a single atom of it is your fault.
Your sister’s death saves your life.
You ain’t that bad kid! All your teachers say to try a harder and you get reprimanded as you spend too much time daydreaming. Your imagination is your best quality. It leads the way to writing and telling your children stories and throwing amazing parties. If anything, have more daydreams. Write them all down (probably in list form as it is around this time you become obsessed with stationery and lists, you weirdo)
All the heartaches and mistakes are part of life and shape the person you become. All the dickheads that cause you grief become people you barely recall and you can have the pleasure of ignoring their friend requests from Facebook (this will become clear one day)
Mostly just enjoy it. These are your halcyon days, even with the traumatic events, everything is simple and money grows on trees (parents’ pockets). You never get these years back, your innocence rapidly diminishes. Hold on to it, cherish it. Feel the wind on your face. Embrace the awkwardness, the tears, the loneliness, the laughter, everything.
Nicola Sian Thomas, You are incredible.