I have decided that 2018 will be the year of letting go. Not of everything of course, because, control freak. But, of what can and should be let go. This will therefore also be known as the year of letters; some to be delivered IRL, some just to exist in this space, a form of public therapy if you like. Let's get straight to the source with a letter to someone who is responsible for who I am today - Me.
Dear 18-year-old Amuse,
I see you, with your baggy black clothes, smudged eyeliner and big boots; wearing that dark brown lipstick that makes your grandmother wince. I see you trying to stand out, to be seen, to make an impact; and I see you doing those things even as you desperately want to disappear, fade into the background and be left alone.
There you are looking in the mirror, longing for everything you don't have. For long legs, curves, and breasts that need more than those (might as well be) training bras you've been wearing for the last five years. There you are, staring at your face, unable to believe that you have reached adulthood with so little to show for it. So you make up for all that you think you lack with layers of clothing; turtlenecks, men' shirts, sweatshirts, jeans, leggings, and those boots, your beloved, scuffed and scarred boots. I know what you are trying to do, but let me tell you the truth? All those layers are just making you sweaty. You need a better deodorant.
I know you don't feel like you belong in your family. Least good looking, at least well behaved, least likely to succeed, right? Let me tell you two things you won't believe right now; one, they really do love you. And two - your sisters will one day be your best friends. I know right?! Seems very unlikely, I mean what with your older sister being an annoying goody-goody two shoes, and your younger one shaping up to be an A class brat, but trust me, these are the women of your heart.
School is nearly a thing of the past and that scares you. Not because you like school, not at all. A perfect older sister ahead of you, another rising star behind you; and you in the middle, a distracted, disrespectful dissonance in what should have been a harmonious trio. School is mostly miserable. They will miss you in the field though and on the track. There is your one place to shine. Run, jump long, jump high, jump over hurdles till you lose count. And you win, because you are fast and because the need to get away and the need to gain approval are both so strong. And this is why you are afraid, because who will you run for now? Who will care how fast you are? What will you do to make people say "Well done!"? Where will you be without a ribbon to run towards?
Don't be afraid. There is much running to be done. And by the time we reach our current age we run only for our own approval. And it feels brilliant.
Please stop sucking your hair and biting off bits of it. You do this much more than you realize. Right now, there are literally piles of bitten off lengths of hair behind your bed. You are lucky the maid isn't an energetic cleaner. But your mother is. One day soon she is going to discover those piles of hair and she will be furious. She will take your boots away. You know you don't want that.
Keep writing. Your poetry is, and will always be terrible, but your stories have merit. You haven't done anything with them yet (sorry!) but keep writing them anyway. You have a nice little career thanks to words and a place to put them, so keep scribbling in those note books, keep reading, keep letting your mind wander (though preferably not so much in class) and always look for work that allows you to put words on paper or screen.
Go and hug your father. You love him. You recently told him that he was an "old fashioned has-been" and that you don't need him. Say you are sorry. If you don't do it now you never will. And you will always wish you had. Go now and say "I am sorry, we are not done disappointing each other, but I love you and I will never be ready to lose you".
I am sorry for the pain. I am particularly sorry for that day on the train back into Colombo. You were so happy to be independent and in charge. Then that creepy guy turned up and started making those awful remarks and you tried to get away from him by moving around the carriage, and he cornered you somehow and squeezed your bum and fondled you and it seemed to last forever and you were so afraid. You don't think you did enough, but you did. You got away because you fought, not because he let you go. And I know no one helped you though they saw what happened and I am so sorry about that because you deserved help. You will let that incident haunt you and shape your path, and I wish you wouldn't, but I know you will. It. Wasn't. Your. Fault.
And as for all that anger, all that pure rage that consumes you? The snap, snarl and sarcasm that defines you? I must be honest and say that there isn't really a way to change that part of you. Today, more than 25 years later, you have mellowed, but you are still angry. You just know how to channel and direct it better, at least most of the time.
I won't lie to you, there are bad times coming. The male of the species causes you a fair amount of confusion at 18. Sadly that won't change too much as you go along. You will make a choice that you will come to regret. Still, from my lofty position as your future self, I can say with confidence - you WILL get through it. Why am I not telling you how to run a mile and avoid this pain? Because this pain is responsible for your greatest love and joy - your child. And I wouldn't change him, and you wouldn't want to either so, your life must take its course because that is the only one that leads you to your boy.
You will have so much. You will have people who love you and understand you. Sometimes they wish you would shut up, but mostly, mostly they wouldn't change a thing about you. Even your mother loves you which is something you don't often believe at 18, but it IS true, and she is one of the rocks you build your new life on.
Oh, and you won't be confused about men forever. The One is out there. He sure takes his time showing up, BUT he is worth it.
Finally, don't forget who you are right now. Don't forget all the rage and resentment you hold inside you. You will need to stay in touch with the girl you are at 18 in order to understand your son. The future you (ie me) will often look at him with horror, guilt, frustration and bewilderment; but the 18-year-old you will look at him and think "Hot damn. My mother wished I would have a child just like me and well....oops". The 18 18-year-old may well know what he needs.
Hold on to who you are. You were made this way for a reason.
Much love, Me (and also you).
PS: Our boobs don't ever get much bigger (sorry!)