My darling girl,
One day you will be five, and 13, and 16, and 18, and Lord help me, 21. You’ll play “house” with your friends, or maybe cowboys or cops and robbers. Then you’ll play Mash and talk about your crush(es). You’ll tell a million secrets to your best friend and I don’t have to know and most certainly won’t know all of them, and that’s okay. I’m just really hoping that you feel completely free and confident at least telling me the big ones.
And if you ever find yourself sitting in a circle playing truth or dare, I hope you think of this…
Truth: Mama got a little crazy. I went out 9 nights a week. I put a lot of energy into it. I stayed up until 5 a.m. and went to work at 7 a.m. I drank a lot, and I even smoked weed. *Gasp* I called out of work ”sick” with hangovers. I smoked cigarettes and hung out with kids my parents probably thought were the bad crowd. I left home when I was far too young and I thought I knew it all. But it’s all okay. In the end I realized I learned a lot the whole way through. I learned how to have fun and be responsible. I built a relationship with my mom and dad.
I made friends that will last a lifetime. I made memories I will always look back on and laugh about. I blossomed.
Dare: Get crazy! Get crazy in the most wonderful sort of way. Find something that makes you feel excited, makes you want to talk about it all the time, and do it. Find your outlet and whatever it is, we’ll help you do it. Open yourself up, imagine your heart is a flower bud and picture the petals of the flower opening all around you, and know that everything that’s inside is beautiful and worth showing.
Feel the emotions of others, expose yourself enough to let other people expose themselves to you, so that you can see the true heart of people. Know someone’s heart before you put them in the “bad crowd”. Be confident enough in yourself to make the right decisions, no matter what the crowd says. Love everyone and do what you love.
That is the most wonderful sort of crazy.
Truth: I fell in love…a lot. I won’t say it wasn’t love. Anyone who thinks they are in love with someone is in love with them. Maybe it’s a different kind of love, maybe someday when the lasting love comes around you’ll look back and think it wasn’t love. But let’s be real. In the moment, it all feels like love. I went on what now seems like a million dates.
I invested my heart in the wrong places, at the wrong times. I got my heart broken, and I broke hearts, but the one person I wasn’t loving enough was myself.
Dare: Love yourself, then fall in love! Fall hopelessly in love. Don’t search for in others what you don’t have in yourself. Don’t look for people to fill voids. Love yourself and the rest will happen. Love yourself and you will be able to truly, deeply, and unconditionally love someone else.
Find someone like your dad.
I know, I know, sorry. I had to say it. All I mean by that is find someone who encourages you to be everything you can be and do everything you want to do. Someone who supports you in finding your own way and loves you selflessly even on the ugliest of days, and do the same thing for them in return.
“But let their be spaces in your togetherness, and let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another, but make not a bond of love; Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf. Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music. Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping. For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts. And stand together yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.”
Truth: There were times I didn’t tell the whole truth. For a lot of reasons I guess. I didn’t surround myself with people that I could trust with the truth. I didn’t trust Myself enough to tell the truth. I wanted to save friendships, or save people’s feelings. I was always so worried about what everyone else felt.
Dare: This one is simple. Can you guess where I’m going with this? Just tell the truth. It’s going to be hard, especially with an open heart that allows you to really feel what other people feel. But know that more than anything, they deserve to be told the truth, and you deserve to be able to tell the truth, even if it hurts at first. Just make sure to do so in a sensitive way, being mindful of the impact your words will have.
Make your closest relationships with open-hearted people so that the truth is easier to tell. Be prepared to lose a friend or two. Know that your future will be brighter and your heart will be lighter, even with that loss, for having told the truth.
Truth: You won’t do all of these things all of the time. And that’s perfectly fine too. No matter what, you light up the sky.
Dare: Make mistakes. Don’t be afraid to shine.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Assistant Editor: Judith Andersson / Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: elephant journal archives