To My Future Self

posted in: chronic illness | 4

I’m taking part in WEGO Health’s Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge

Day 6 #HAWMC – Write a letter to an older you (tell us what age you’re writing to!). What do you want to ask yourself? What lesson do you want to make sure you remember?

I’m writing to my 66 year-old self, 20 years into the future.

Garden of Time © 2003 Jane Waterman
Garden of Time © 2003 Jane Waterman

Hello You!

Wow, you made it! You may even be retired by now; that is, if the government didn’t raise the minimum retirement age to 75 by the time you read this!

If I could read your mind! What things you must have to tell me! It’s 2033 where you are. Is it like Blade Runner? Do you travel in flying cars? Do androids dream of electric sheep? Did I ever pay off my tax bill? Did I ever figure out the appropriate use of obscure references or humour in my posts, or did I just get too old to care?

Did you make peace with the past, with my regrets about the things I did and didn’t do, and with my concerns about the future? Did you find the ability to stay in the now – in the moment? Do you go outside everyday to just breathe in the wonder? Do you make time as often as possible to look up at the stars and imagine and dream?

Here’s the jackpot question: did you ever learn to love yourself unconditionally? Perhaps you can remember how hard I was working on that! Do you remember our 5 year-old self and how much she hated herself? How strange it is for a child to hit herself and hate herself! No more hitting, and hardly any self-harm at this stage, but did I ever make that leap to true self-love and self-compassion? What was the secret? Did I just keep practising and learning everything I could get my hands on? Was there a day you just woke up and noticed that it (self-hate) was gone? Did you go out with our better half and celebrate?

What about the pain? I confess, I didn’t think you’d make it. I said something to my daughter recently about not wanting to be around when I was 70. She seemed horrified, but I couldn’t imagine going on for that long with this constant pain. The joint and muscle pain –  I got used to that, but what about the pain in the right side of my abdomen? Did you ever get an answer? It’s been over two years, and the pain has gone from a 4 to a 5 to a 6 to a 7 out of 10, with the odd excursion to 8 and even 9. Sitting here today, I wonder how long I can tolerate this deep, piercing pain – the feeling that someone gave me a side kick in the kidney! I think most of them (the doctors) finally believe the pain is real but I’m not sure. The GP wants me to take more drugs with more side effects to mask the pain. The internist wants me to take cannabis. Do you think I’m right to hold out? I’ve been reading about cannabis oil and wondering if I (the perennial good girl) tried it with my internist’s sign off, whether it would heal what’s wrong. What do you think? Or should I just listen to my naturopath and forget conventional catastrophic medicine?

Did all those years of therapy, self-improvement and compassion work pay off? Did I gain that elusive mastery over depression at last? Now that you’re 4 years away from 70, are you well and happy enough that you could easily contemplate another 10 or 20 years? Even with a Conservative government?

What about the mammogram on Monday? I’ve never really worried about them until now. Knowing what I do now, I’ve been thinking. It’s too late to undo the biopsy  (more like a chunk of me) that they took after that first scan 5 years ago, but what if they do find something on Monday? With the finding of LCIS (lobular carcinoma in-situ), should I let them cut into me again? Were those people right who said that it could metastasize the cancer? In 2008, the oncologist wanted me to have a double mastectomy and take a drug that had horrible side effects. Was I right to hold out on aggressive treatment? What about chemo? I’ve heard the survival stats improve life extension so minimally that it’s not worth it. My current leaning is not to go through it if they ever say I should. I hope I made the right decision based on an understanding of the facts, and validated by the fact that you’re still here to read this post!

Did you finally find a balance between working, creating and resting? Did I write those books I wanted to write? Did I keep making digital art? Did my writing and art make a difference? Did it help people? Are you still writing, and still making a difference? Are you still forgetting to write down the great ideas that hit you at 2am, which are totally gone by morning?

Did you manage a decent quality of life, with or without the doctors’ help? Were you well enough to travel as I’ve longed to, but haven’t been able to for so long? Did you go everywhere and meet all the beautiful friends I’ve met online? Please tell me you did, and that together you ate lots of delicious meals in serene and eclectic eateries, and visited lots of art galleries as well as cool (and only interesting!) cultural events, like I used to before I got sick.

Finally, do you finish each day with a heart full of love and contentment? I so hope you do!

Love,
Me (your 46 year-old self)

4 Responses

  1. Chris Dean
    | Reply

    I hope and pray you found that peace you're seeking. You DO make a difference and I can honestly tell you, you've made a difference in my life, even if our friendship ends up only ever being on-line. You are a beautiful ,compassionate woman who I hope one day finds the secret to turning that towards herself. *heartfelt hugs*

    • Jane Waterman
      | Reply

      Awww, thank you so much, hon. That means so much to me. I do, however, hope we get to meet one day, that would be so cool – but knowing you is cool in and of itself too! Lotsa love and hugs!

  2. Carmen Waterman (@Ca
    | Reply

    You have such an amazing talent for making me laugh and cry at the same time. I feel so deeply this letter to your older self and I want to assure you of one thing, like Chris said you do make a difference. I have also seen with pride and joy what you continue to do to help others and yourself. You are an inspiration and thank you for making me think about what I might write to my older self. I may just have to do this.

    • Jane Waterman
      | Reply

      Awww, thank you, that means a lot to me. I definitely encourage you to try writing to your older self. I also find it helpful to write to my younger self, as I have in my "Compassion for my Younger Self" series. I find it a way to send loving-kindness to a part of myself that may still be in distress. Lots of love. xxxx

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