The year is coming to an end, and with a few weeks off, I never know what to do with myself. I seem to always end up cleaning the whole place, throwing things away and then later regretting it.
But this holiday, a few days ago, I stumbled onto some old files of mine. I had put all sorts of letters and keepsakes in there and just forgot about it.
But since I had nothing to do, I sat on my carpet with the file open in front of me, relishing the old memories. I came across a letter, so to speak, I had written to myself just over three years ago, also around Christmas time. It had been a strange year, 2003.
My favourite sister had a boyfriend that nobody approved of, but she seemed not to notice. She had spent almost the whole year away from us and with him. I was very upset, since she was moving away the next year and I would never (I thought then) see her again.
I felt more than just neglected; I fell into a complete depression. She had been my best friend, we knew each other better than anyone in the world, but she was leaving and it seemed not to bother her one bit.
But that was only part of my reason for feeling so hollow. Back then my life was different than it is now, I felt as if everyone in my family had a life except me. I felt like they had no sympathy or understanding for the way that I was feeling.
At the lowest point of all this, I pathetically thought of myself as a house plant, stuck in a pot in one place while everyone else had things to do and places to go.
In this letter of mine I read all this, all the anger and frustration and sadness of that time, but there was one paragraph that stood out for me. In the letter I wished for all the things I really wanted, but knew I wouldn’t really get.
I wanted my own life, my own car, my own house, my own lover that will love me, a job. In this country, public transport is an Xtreme sport only the brave would dare.
For me, there was no going anywhere without asking someone if they had time to give me a lift. But my sister could get in her car and drive to her boyfriend and leave me alone. I felt miserable.
As I sat there reading the things I wished for, it was like reading a book, almost not believing it was really me. Or almost not believing how much I had changed.
Almost every wish on that list has come true, and those that haven’t, are in progress. I thought if I could go back in time and tell myself all that I will have, I would not have believed myself.
So why did it all come true? How did I change so drastically? I’m not sure exactly. I don’t really want to think too much about how my life had changed, realising a dream is a dream, you run the risk of waking up. It has a lot to do with how I see myself.
When my sister left, I had to do things on my own, change the way I had been doing things up until then. I suddenly realised that even though I loved my sister completely, I had been living in her shadow.
She is a beautiful, successful person, something I thought I could never be. But when she left, there was no one to compare myself with anymore, it was just me. I don’t think I’ll ever tell her this, maybe she won’t understand.
In the letter there is a terribly sad sense of hope that things will get better, even though I doubted it would. The future was a lonely place that I dreaded to think about. I never want to feel like that again. As if my life is in the hands of someone who does not care much about what becomes of me.
Be kind, be friendly, be rude if you must, but never let other people keep you from running your own life. Even if they are family.
Email Marelise at email@example.com .