A letter to my teenage self
Dear 16 year old Robin,
My god girl, I wish you could know that the one thing that completely overshadowed your teenage years, is the one thing that helped your children cope 30 years later.
Yep, when your dad died just before you hit puberty, you hated how it made you different. When other girls talked about their dads doting on them or standing up for them or encouraging them to try harder or be stronger, you didn’t know what they meant.
As you got older and started liking boys, you felt ashamed because you didn’t have your dad to explain how to deal with them.
But, it was those feelings of shame and embarrassment that helped you navigate your own children’s adolescence after their father died.
They may have been boys losing their dad, but the feelings were the same and the fact you understood them, gave your boys support that psychologists later said was invaluable.
I wish you could have known what was to come and been proud of those feelings, rather than have them cripple you with self doubt.
I would say to you, young Robin, that no matter how hard you tried to be smarter, you were smart enough.
When your friends were talking about university and what they wanted to become and you were terrified that you wouldn’t be able to complete another three years of higher education because of your mild dyslexia, I wish I could show you that you would find a way to speak your truth rather than read it or write it.
In fact, your ability to make up words, because you couldn’t get them right in your head, would become a funny quirk of your personality; and even though your year 11 English teacher told you that you would never succeed in a career using the English language, you proved her wrong.
But hey girl, it wasn’t all bad. I want to tell you, 16 year old Rob, that all those big feelings and crazy out bursts that saw you in tears, as you struggled to control your emotions, also gave you a compassion and empathy for people in pain that has helped shape your life in wonderful ways.
I don’t know why you chose running as a way to process those feelings, but the decision to use exercise as a tool in your arsenal of coping mechanisms, at the ripe old age of 14, has given you a lifetime of great physical health and pretty good mental balance when the going gets tough.
You would laugh now seeing your kids nudging themselves as mum straps on her running shoes, after an argument with them, because they know when she comes back she will have a list of consequences and punishments.
Finally Rob your complete devotion to David Bowie , Patrick Swayze and Boris Becker will result in nothing more than teenage crushes ….and even now people still ask, ‘Why Boris Becker’ and like then, you will still have no idea…red hair maybe???
But all jokes aside young Robin, you are enough…you just are!
It will take you almost 50 years and the death of your soulmate Sean, for you to finally find a place for all that deep insecurity that started way back in your teenage years, after the death of your dad.
I wish we could have worked it out then and not now, but the journey is both heartbreaking and wonderful.
So Rob, strap yourself in and just keep doing you, as your life will be spectacular .
Love, 51 year old Me
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