Pour your heart out to the one who deserves it the most, you.
A collective healing art project hosted by Area Noir.
Post your letter to your younger self in the box below.
It was never the names that they called you that hurt the most it was the look on mums face when you told her.
Oh my darling. You won’t want to hear this or believe it but the tears you’re holding back aren’t going to disappear. There is no easy way out, there’s no side exit. The only way is through it. Despite what they say, time doesn’t heal all and the distractions are only delaying the inevitable.
You think you can lock this pain up in a box and bury it away but the lock will rust, the wood will rot and you’ll be in the middle of your charmed life and you’ll be forced to face it.
This sounds like a warning....but it’s not. Keep doing what you’re doing. Distract yourself with the parties, drugs, worthy causes and a relationship that you know you’re possibly jumping into too quickly because all of this will serve you in one way or another and will lead you to this point in time where you’re writing this letter, feeling a sense of home in yourself that you don’t yet know is possible.
But just know that the fun and distractions won’t heal you and you have work to do and pain that you must feel in order to grow.
From this place of hindsight know that I’m watching you, I’m holding you, I’m loving you and I’m keeping you safe. The night you take heroin for the first time, black out for a few hours and find yourself at the end of a bus route in the middle of the night, I won’t let you come to harm. The relationship you’re about to jump into, that you find thrilling because you think he’s crazy and reckless - he’s going to be safe and healthy for you (and you couldn’t have chosen a better man to be the father to your child).
The person who has left you feeling abandoned, betrayed and homeless is only as powerful and integral to your story as you allow them to be. You’ll realise this one day in a flash and it won’t hurt like you think it will, quite the opposite.
“Home is in your body”. It’s a key. When you’re lying next to him one time and you hear this lyric, you’ll know what you have to do. Leave him and don’t look back. X
Dear Young M,
You furious, curious, funny, sad and passionate thing.
You knew, we knew the world was bigger, than that in which you inhabited for your teenage years. You stand on the edge of town, on the headland above the bay, night after night, as you let Benji lose himself in the wild smells of somewhere he would rather be.
You stare across the bay, to Melbourne, dreaming of escape to the big city, away from the confusion, anger, unrest, low-level grouchiness of home. You wonder why Dad would bother driving 2.5 hours to work each day and then back. But then you didn’t really wonder. You knew, it limited his time at the dinner table, and around the house. That massive house, with a postage stamp garden, which you sometimes kept your horse in overnight. I’ve forgotten why now. And I’ve never understood why whomever build that brick house, didn’t leave a little bit more space for a garden….
Alas, I digress. Let’s get back to the advice I have for you.
Let’s take it one at a time:
About that, this is something that is going to stay with you for a while. You will make to the bright lights of Melbourne, and meet wonderful, life-long friends. You will have many adventures from sleeping in dry riverbanks in the desert, to roof tops in Carlton. You’ll often be angry over tiny things. Incensed in fact. You’ll place the blame on others and have difficulty standing in your own power, seeing the anger is from within. Don’t be too hard on yourself, you won’t do too much damage, but really, try and chill out. Breath. Don’t over analyse. Just be. Still. It will pass. You will process it. Forgive yourself and be gentle.
Keep this brilliant trait. You’ll spend your university days thinking through the origin of consciousness, pondering the missing link between the homo genus, and learning all sorts of things from anatomy to nuclear physics dating techniques. It’s your ability to take divergent theories and string them together and interpret them in novel ways that will bring you much success in life. Your curiosity is a gift. Honour it. And oh, stay there as long as you can, learn everything you can. And do the one-year French immersion course. You’ll need it later.
Right now you are funny, but it’s cutting and biting, and often at the expense of others. Be aware of this. Don’t beat yourself up, just shift it. You are funny, always will be funny, but please be kind and funny. It’s nicer for everyone.
There are many pieces here, that will take you decades to really understand. But for now know this – when you feel overwhelmingly sad, don’t get angry. Sit still, breath. Look a little deeper if you can bear it, and you will find it’s related to a childhood wound. The way mum or dad spoke to you, or the way you were treated unjustly, or accused. All of these tiny events led to a deep feeling of not being good enough, or loved for who you are. Don’t worry – you are loveable and loved wildly. Now on that boyfriend of your Dan – don’t waste too many years on him. You make each other sad, fight a lot. Try and learn this quickly – relationships are not meant to be fraught with conflict. Focus on the Chef, you will know him when you meet him.
There is nothing quite like passion, tenacity and drive to take you further that you can imagine. Some of your peers will think you are weird for spending weekends writing grant applications and getting involved with anything related to trying to change the world. Don’t worry about it, just keep it up. This drive and passion will lead to opportunities you can but imagine. You will land yourself a full ride to the London School of Economics, sit in a room and listen to Nelson Mandela, and come to know many world leaders well.
So there you are my darling. Things will be okay, you will live a life bigger than you dreamed of. You will never face more than you can handle, and you will continue discovering the power within for many decades to come. There is much to learn, but the sooner you learn the above, the more you will have time to grasp.
When you’re 18, stay the final month. When you’re 23, stay where you are at Louise’s. When you’re 25, stay and try harder, because you get better at it. When you’re 30, don’t stay, walk way both times; tell Sade to stay, to not leave his side. Be more confident (you find it eventually) in the decisions you make, and always follow your own moral compass - ignoring it or trying to follow someone else’s lands you in shit and regret, because you always knew. You get to keep your sunny disposition, despite rials and tribulations, so it’ll all be even so much better once you heed this letter.
Oh darling ...
But you are already the woman he never deserved. You are already so much more than he ever will be. And you have long found yourself. You just need to open your eyes and you would see what I see: intellect, compassion, loyalty, drive, strength, beauty and endless kindness. You see the world as full of hope, opportunity - there to be shared by and for all of us - not just some of us.
Remember the morning you walked, hand in hand with your friend, shaking, into the empty flat he moved out of overnight without ever contacting you again after a 6 year relationship? You loved so deeply that you ignored the long-coming storm. His narcissistic behaviour, the passive aggression, the mind games, the constant rejection, the lowering of your self-worth and that of others. And no, you are not just the victim: you made mistakes and will learn to take full accountability for your own actions. You simply placed your future into the wrong hands and built your home in someone else rather than within yourself. But you are not a piece of jewellery only to be worn on certain days or to be thrown away if it sparkles differently than originally anticipated in the sun. And believe me when I say: you were not wrong in putting yourself first.
Fortunately, you are one lucky girl as this journey will bring you to full liberation and clarity over what really matters. You will meet so many amazing people so why still let one ruin it all for you? Your friends and family will catch you when you fall, challenge your thoughts, believe in you, make you laugh until your stomach hurts, and love you just like you love them - unconditionally and for who they are. We as humans of all age, religion, colour, sexual orientation and socioeconomic background must unite. These days more than ever before. We need to be prepared for what lies ahead as we cannot stem it alone. We need others to speak up for us when we are too weak. We need others to challenge our thoughts and champion our ideas. The challenges we face, the pain we go through, the dark nights lying awake in anxiety and fear of the future, the feeling of not belonging, the self-doubt and thoughts that we are not good or smart enough - we are not alone with them. They make us stronger. You, my dear, already have everything you will ever need and so much more. The best thing about this part of your journey was and always will be: you. But I know you already figured that. So just keep going. Struggle for progress not perfection. As little by little, a little becomes a lot. One voice will turn into many and you can be part of something new. Something exciting and much more meaningful. Initiate change, be the voice of others and create a better world. Keep your eyes open to reality, follow purpose over passion and trust what is right and what is wrong. In the words of Maja Angelou: ‘the horizon leans forward, offering you space to place new steps of change.’ So go now. Create. Unite. Inspire. And most importantly:
Ellie J Flynn
Tell people how you feel, don’t expect them to know or guess. Ask about other people’s feelings. Like me in earlier times, they might not always tell you without being prompted. There are ways to get help if you need it.
Treat others how you would like to be treated yourself. Do not let other people treat you badly, stay away from people that do. You are worthy. Love yourself.
You can’t control what other people say or think about you, so worrying about it is entirely pointless and will only cause you pain and distress. It’s not easy but try and let it go, it’s so empowering when you do. Encourage others to do the same.
Surround yourself with people you love, who make you laugh and offer you loyalty. Be loyal.
Finally, you are not perfect and you will make mistakes. Allow yourself to make mistakes but never fail to learn from them. Apologise when you are in the wrong.
Dear younger Marisa,
You won’t believe how much you have changed, and how your art has been at the centre of that.
I wish I knew what I know now at your age – your creativity would have flourished and spread so wider, as would your confidence and sense of self.
I’m going to keep this short and sweet, because I know regardless of whatever age we are at, we love people to get to the point.
Since we could remember we’ve been in love with art, it has allowed us to express ourselves fully. At this point in your life I would give you the following advice:
- Visit art galleries more! Go to more exhibitions, learn about art outside of the whitewashed and mainstream art education you have in secondary school. Read up on African artists, Asian Artists, South American artists, Aboriginal artists! This will keep inspiring you to develop your art and excite you more, and be able to see the variety in the art world.
- Keep painting, I know you are questioning whether art is a viable career path, but being creative alongside the history degree we will love so much will relieve stress and empower you as a person.
- Take the compliment! Don’t be shy about it, say thank you, be proud of it and put your work forward. Instagram is not yet a thing, but you will find an incredible community online by sharing your art that will lead to some amazing opportunities.
- Be proud of who you are, you are a culmination of so many wonderful cultures, you are not just “mixed other” as the census would suggest , you are unique and so is your perspective on the world and art. Your voice and perspective is so important, and just as important as anyone else’s.
- Remove yourself from people who make you question who you are. Correct people at uni when they say “you speak so white”, when they diminish who you are by saying you aren’t “black-black” and when someone asks you “what are you”, you tell them someone who is leaving the room. Our humour will get us through a lot, as well as our creativity. Our sense of self is the most important thing we have!
Marisa in 2021
Dear Amanda, (Age 16)
I want more than anything to let you know that you are enough. You are enough exactly as you as you are and you don’t need to change yourself to try any get the validation and love you so desperately seek.
Your name itself Amanda - means worthy of love. You ARE WORTHY. I’m so sorry that your life experiences have taught you that you don’t deserve to be seen, heard or loved.
I want you to know that the things you went through at such a young age were completely out of your control.
You don’t know it yet, but your life is about to change in ways you couldn’t even imagine.
You are about to see the world and experience the gift that comes with travelling and being exposed to different cultures. The world is so big and I love that you are so curious and open to seeing so much.
I love that you’re still so innocent and naive yet, like most 16 year olds; you think you know so much. I wish you could see how beautiful you are right now. I wish you could love yourself the way I love you now.
Please stop worrying so much about what other people think of you. How people treat you is a reflection of themselves and has nothing to with you. Also please stand up for yourself. Don’t be afraid to speak up, believe it or not, you’re not going to have a problem doing this when you’re older.
Your mum is literally your biggest cheerleader. She really does want what’s best for you despite what you may think right now. She has sacrificed a lot more than you are aware of, to make your life comfortable. You’re just going through teenage angst, but believe me….mama knows best, and she loves you more than anything. One day you will have children of your own and it will all make sense.
There will be some challenges coming your way over the years. You will at times feel defeated! But you will get through and you will come out of it with a new sense of self. I want you to know that your breakdown will be the making of you. It will show you how strong you are, how resilient you are and most importantly it will be the unveiling of you, to yourself!
An introduction to the amazing woman you will become. A loving mother who will protect and fiercely love her children like her life depends on it. A bad ass business women who knows that she is worthy of a seat at the table.
Please don’t try to change yourself to fit in! Do not let those who are afraid of your light try to dim it. You are a maverick. You see things differently and do things differently and that, coupled with your great sense of compassion, will make the world a better place.
Stay true to who you are and You will find your tribe!
The thing is….you are so young and you have your whole life ahead of you. You don’t have to have it all figured out right now, follow your heart, it will lead you in the right direction. You may take a few detours along the way, and sometimes you may not know where the road is leading (ok most of the time you won’t know where it’s leading), but you’ll have a kick-ass time along the journey.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Vulnerability is strength and it’s totally ok for you to be supported.
Pay attention to what heals you, to what sparks your joy... trust yourself, believe in yourself and know that who YOU are is more than good enough.
In the years to come you may forget to treat yourself as well as you should but you will find your way.
I appreciate you and I love you very much. You’ve got this!