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A Letter to My Old Self

A letter to my old self, knowing what I know now.  Things I wish I could have told myself on 3/12/18.

 

Dear Jenn,

 

This day is going to be the hardest day of your life.  This day is going to be emotional.  This day is going to be life changing.  I need you to remember one important thing.  Your life does not end today.  It only restarts.

 

This year is going to be challenging.  You will cry…a lot.  You will scream.  You will crumble.  You will endure more physical pain than you have ever experienced.  You will have frustration.  You will have many days where you feel completely and utterly defeated.  I need you to remember one thing.  There will be a day when you finally get to rise up and take your life back.  It might take a while, but that day will come.

 

Your emotions are going to be a roller coaster.  You will be thankful to be cancer free and see hope for your future.  You won’t understand what your future looks like now, but I need you to remember one thing.  You are capable of ANYTHING and EVERYTHING.  Cancer doesn’t define you.  Amputation doesn’t define you.  Your response to it all DOES define you.  You can let your circumstances take over, or you can use your circumstances as fuel to find yourself again.  You will choose the fuel to fight.

 

You will never be the same person.  You just can’t be.  You have endured too much.  None of this is a bad thing.  You won’t sweat the small stuff.  You won’t let little things get to you.  You will find appreciation and gratitude in the little things that matter most.  You will choose to surround yourself with people who lift you up and make you level up.  You will challenge yourself more than anyone else and you will NEVER give up.  You will have people who look at you differently.  You will have some who feel sorry for you.  Some will feel empowered by you.  Others will inspire you.  What matters most is how you see yourself. 

 

You will learn over time that while this year will challenge you, change you, break you, build you and redo it again and again, it will also mold you into the best version of yourself.  You will find that you don’t settle.  You will never sell yourself short.  You won’t hold yourself back.  You will push yourself more to do things physically than you ever did before.  The fear of not trying will be so much stronger than the fear of failing.  You will get to know yourself better than you ever have.  You will have this inner need to prove to yourself that there is NOTHING you can’t do on one foot and a prosthetic that you did on two real feet.  You will recognize that you are so much stronger than you ever knew you were. 

 

Most of all, you will find yourself again.  Not your old self.  That person is gone.  You will find your new self.  You will feel like you again.  You will just have a much stronger perspective on what life actually means.  There will be a day in your future where losing your leg doesn’t consume every thought and the chronic pain becomes less intense and more manageable.  There will be a day where you will find happiness within yourself again.  You will still have days where you feel defeated.  You will still have days where you feel self-conscious. You might never get over feeling uncomfortable at the start of summer when shorts and bathing suit season showcase all you have lost.  None of that will matter.  You will push yourself through the discomfort.  You will persevere.  And you will do it again and again each year.

 

This day will feel like a mix of emotions each anniversary.  As each year passes, you will find less sadness and more gratitude for a life that is cancer free and for feeling more confident in who you have become.  You will survive the emotions.  You might internalize a lot of it.  Many people won’t understand how you feel as you go through the roller coaster of feelings each March.  You will still feel some sadness.  You will still feel some personal grief for what was lost.  That is ok.  You will learn how to navigate those feelings.  You will learn how to make self-care a priority during this time to keep the best version of you present.  You will find more appreciation each year for what your body is still capable of.  You will find more gratitude each year for being ALIVE.

 

Most of all, you have no idea that you are about to take tragedy and turn it into something amazing to help other people.  In the end, that is what this is all about.  You will find your purpose through the turmoil and use it to benefit others who are now in your shoes.  Something horrifically awful is about to become something beautiful.

 

Take a deep breath.  Hold on tight.  You are a survivor in more ways than one.  Your life is not over.  It is only restarting.

 

Love yourself.  Give yourself grace.  Make self-care a priority.  You will make it.  Just hold on. <3

 

Love,

Yourself three years later

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