Ten years ago, I was away on a weekend of introspection. At the time I was dealing with some heavy stuff surrounding the death of my father. My weekend away involved some reflective process work of self-exploration. One of the processes was to write a letter to my future self.
I remember the fear that I felt when I wrote the letter. I was feeling vulnerable and filled with sadness. It was a handwritten letter. My hand was shaking like a leaf as I tried for the first time in my life to write down how I felt. Up until then, I had never opened that can of worms. That can of worms was simply being honest about how I felt, recognising the feelings of fear and sadness, and expressing them.
I wrote my home address on the envelope and sealed the letter inside. I felt a deep sense of relief. I felt like I had captured something precious inside a jar. Something that I had never done before. I handed my letter to a facilitator and wondered what it would be like to read the letter someday in the future.
So much changed for me that weekend. It was a hero’s journey to the depths of despair and back. When I returned to my real world it all seemed to be a blur. The details are forgotten, but the freedom from a heavy burden…so relieving.
I forgot about the letter…until that day it arrived in the post. I couldn’t open it. The letter sat on the kitchen counter for days. Every time I walked past, I would stare at it and avoid it like it was a snake in the corner waiting to strike.
It took me a week to find the courage. I got home one afternoon feeling bulletproof. Now was the time to open this can of worms again.
My hands shook as I gently eased a sharp knife under the tightly glued envelope flap. I felt like I was about to release some poisonous gas into the air. I pulled the letter from the envelope and held the folded papers in my hand, thinking back to the time when I wrote it. I tried to connect to the emotion I felt back then in comparison to how I felt now. A chasm apart.
The moment I folded the letter open I recognised my handwriting. I felt a sense of peace wash over me. I read the words slowly. Remembering the sounds of the room where I wrote it.
I felt the tears well up as I read the last line. It read, “Justin, you will be fine, trust yourself and trust the process”. The best advice I ever gave myself.
Justin Spencer-Young Twitter: @fastforwardjsy