A letter to my 20-year-old self, (as published at the beginning of my book Dive In)
My dearest, darling girl
I’m sitting here, writing this to you, on a gorgeous, autumn morning in the Cape.
Yes, that is where we live now, in the year of 2016. It is honestly the most beautiful place on earth, (except for a certain bridge across the majestic Olifantsriver, which we’ll discover in a few years…)
In this moment, you are in your second year of university in Johannesburg. The year is 1996. I can just see you there, through the mists of time, swinging your book bag carelessly, humming a tune under your breath as you walk along, on your way to class.
So innocent, and so unprepared for what is to come. My heart just wants to break with love and compassion and horror, because even though our life up to this point has been hard at times, it is about to change forever.
Until now, our main challenge has been that horrible feeling of not fitting in anywhere, being different, always feeling somehow less-than and of course being shit-scared of the deluge of emotions assaulting us every day.
You don’t yet know that we’re an empath – picking up the emotions of those around us – but the discovery will make such a lot of sense when we figure this out. I know you haven’t gotten a handle on this yet, and I’m sorry to say that it will be a good while still. For now, I have to tell you that our life is about to change. Everything is going to go to hell real soon, almost in the blink of an eye.
You are about to experience a major heartbreak in terms of a loss of a relationship that you care about. I’m so sorry, but it’s just not going to work out like in the fairytales.
At almost the same time a precious childhood friend (and anchor in our life) is going to be killed, suddenly and violently. This terrible tragedy is going to mark the moment we lose our faith in God (and life).
Besides the awful news I’ve told you about already, our world is about to be rocked next year when Dad is going to break apart our “happy family”. Or maybe it was just breaking apart the illusion of a happy family, you know? It doesn’t really matter either way since this last safe port in the hurricane is going to disappear with terrifying suddenness. Our parents are going to get divorced and Mom is not going to handle this well. There is further major trauma coming there, but I’ll talk you through those unpleasant details a bit later. For now, just breathe, okay?
The sad truth that I need to prepare you for, firstly and foremostly, is that our whole world is about to implode and for the longest time we are just going to be existing, trying to make sense of the wreckage. I know this is hard to hear. It was even harder to live through.
We are going to spend the next decade and more trying to go at it alone, trapped in a pit of depression and joylessness that is going to be very hard to escape. I know you think we are clever in figuring stuff out, but it’s going to take us really, really long to find our way back to even some small measure of truth and grace.
By the time we manage to claw our way back into the sunshine, our belief system is going to be entirely different from what it is now. I must tell you; this is not really a bad thing. Some of the things you believe in currently were programmed into you by people with their own agenda, which is not always to your benefit.
Figuring all this out and fixing things is going to be scary and exciting, but for a long time, it is really just going to suck.
I am sorry to be the bearer of such sad tidings. Thinking back to how happy you are in this moment, I am sorrier than you can ever know.
If there is one thing though that I want you to take away with you, to hold tightly next to your heart in the dark, dark days to come – it is the belief, no, the sure knowledge, that things are going to be okay. We are going to be okay. No, really.
I know you cannot even wrap your head around the coming Apocalypse of heartbreak and earthquakes yet, so trying to imagine how this can be, in any way, shape or form, a good thing, is beyond you.
That is totally okay. For now, just trust me that it will enable us to expand our heart and our wisdom to levels you cannot even begin to imagine now. It is an emptying out and then blowing up of what is there so that there is room for something bigger and better – something deeper.
In the process of figuring all of this stuff out, we are going to become a whole new person. A lot of things will change. For instance, we’ll get a handle on our weight and our emotions and become a runner – I know you don’t believe me, but do – everything I tell you here is the Honest-to-God truth.
Yet, some things won’t change at all. That wonderful core of strength and determination that you have inside of you will stay exactly the same.
That precious wondering part of you, as you walk there with the sun shining on your carelessly made ponytail, is what is going to find the keys to the stark prison cell of despair where we’ll be spending the coming years.
You are going to doubt yourself, and it is going to be hard, but it is going to be worth it.
So go on, enjoy your Journalism class. I’m going to pour myself a nice glass of wine, while I tell you the amazing story of some of the things (good and bad) that is going to happen and what we’ll discover on our journey. These include:
Chapter 1: Knowing (Tapping into the universe’s wi-fi)
Chapter 2: Exploring contrast (Painting the world you want)
Chapter 3: Dreams (You’ve got e-mail)
Chapter 4: On being a Phoenix (Rebirth from the ashes)
Chapter 5: Dive in (Confronting the monsters in our mind)
Chapter 6: Fear (Going treasure hunting)
Chapter 7: Choose your own adventure (Here be Goblins)
Chapter 8: Meeting the Shadow as a friend (and chilling with him for a bit)
Chapter 9: Once upon a time… (The girl who thought she couldn’t run)
Chapter 10: Hacking into the subconscious mind (Programming 101)
Chapter 11: Meditation and hypnosis (Quieting the monkey mind)
Chapter 12: Finding the flow (Jumping into the river)
Chapter 13: The E-motion Repair and Demolition Academy (Hardhats needed in this area)
Chapter 14: Let’s get practical (The Sway test)
Chapter 15: The Matrix (There is no spoon…)
Chapter 16: Bugger Botox (Wear’em with pride)
Chapter 17: Releasing weight (Turning monsters into CO2)
Chapter 18: Forgiveness (Springcleaning for the soul)
Chapter 19: Ask for help (A new perspective on receiving)
Chapter 20: Our inner Bag lady (Progression)
Chapter 21: Enhanced visualisation (and the role of emotion)
Chapter 22: Chakras (The flow of energy in our body)
Chapter 23: Grounding (Earth energy)
Chapter 24: Nature therapy (Green magic)
Chapter 25: Time travelling (Adventures of the soul)
Chapter 26: Religion, fairies and unicorns (The elephant in the room)
Chapter 27: Cleaning the whiteboard (Ho’ponopono)
Chapter 28: The box (That doesn’t exist)
Chapter 29: Epilogue (The Gift).
I’ll be right here when you get back and I’ll be with you all of the way. I love you very much, gorgeous girl, so innocent and strong.
Now run, you’re going to be late…
your 40-year old version, aka Me.