Dear Me,

Man, life’s tough, isn’t it? Why is everything such a fight with you? You always feel attacked, and you’re always on edge. Let’s be honest, though: it isn’t totally your fault. Childhood got you into some rough shit. You were so smart, are so smart, but you got held down. Man, if only you could escape that, and not carry it with you everywhere. I know you were bullied and beaten, and I know that messed you up something awful.

I know your ability to care about your studies kind of went out the window. For someone like you, who only wanted to be smart when you were young, and who has so much potential, that’s rough. I know you let yourself down quite a bit, but don’t stay down. Really, get up, keep going. You can still do it. Let the potential become the reality.

I know that your ability to interact with people and society has been stunted. Decimated, really. People don’t understand you, and that’s because you never let people in. You are scared of people. Understandable, being that the limited interactions with people have been bad ones. Remember: Not everyone is bad and cruel. You are a human being, with strengths and flaws. You are likable, and you know it. There are people who are close to you that you call friends. When you let people in, they take a look around your head. I know you expect them to run away, but they don’t always. Some stay; some care. You are learning to let people in little by little. Keep it up, it’ll be beneficial in the end. If they turn and run, let them, but they will never stay if you don’t even give them a chance.

Nothing is the end of the world. You’ve lost family, friends, your home, your memories, and damn near your life. Don’t be afraid of what lies in front of you; step forward in confidence. Life is a series of events and experiences, and they make up the tale of you. You can be changed, you can be broken, but it’s just part of growing up, and becoming who you’ll be. You can lose everything, get it all back, and lose it again. You can still persevere, you’ve done it before.

Don’t forget yourself. You know who you are, at least part of who you are. Stop throwing your morals and convictions out the window. You get hurt every time you do, has it been worth it once? Not particularly. Yea, following them gets you hurt sometimes too, but getting hurt being true is better then getting hurt living a lie. Don’t cut corners on yourself. It’s just plain stupid.

Be happy with yourself, and don’t care what everyone else thinks about you. Right now, you are typing this, and you are doing it feeling free. You’ve shed so much of your defenses. You aren’t scared of being judged. Keep that up, because no one matters as much to you as you.

And, although you’re following the career path you think suits you best, don’t let go of your creativity. Ever. You may not think you are good enough at it, but you know that you are. You know you can write and draw and sing. So keep it up. It doesn’t need to be your career, but don’t let it become nothing. Keep it close to you, it’s your safe place, never forget how it makes you feel.

Finally, don’t forget your heart. It’s so strong, you care so much, and although you think the world has become a place that doesn’t respect that sometimes, it does. People recognize your kindheartedness. You enjoy giving, and helping. Don’t let that fade. Furthermore, we both know what is most important in your life: Love. Partners come and go, and you feel and then you hurt. You keep the cycle going though, because one day it won’t hurt. It’ll grow, and you’ll be able to have children, and feel complete, like you have never felt in your life. The person who will complete you is out there. Find them. Hold them. Make them know they complete you, and they will make you know that you complete them.

Study hard: become who you want to be.
Let people in: they will love you, and you’ll feel better.
Remember yourself: for now, nothing is more important to you then you, and that’s okay.
You are good: be happy with who you are.
Be creative: it’s in your blood, in your mind and soul. Don’t just let it go.
Remember your heart: it beats in your chest. It is the part of you that is compassionate to those in need, and it’s the part of you that you want people to see. It will be what resonates with another to bring you to your bliss.
I give you these rules, because I care about you. This will make you happy. You’ve spent a long time breaking these rules, and you’ve spent a long time unhappy. Let’s change that, together.



Dear me,

I’m sorry for every mean thing I’ve ever said about you or to you. I’m sorry for hating parts of you. I’m sorry for thinking your boobs are too small, your butt too flat, your arms too skinny and your face the worst thing about yourself. I’m sorry for being self-conscious. I’m sorry for abusing you. I’m sorry for exposing you to the eyes of boys who will only care about how skinny your waist is. I’m sorry for pushing your boobs too high, and wearing shorts that are too short in attempts to get attention – you’re better than that, I’m better than that. I’m sorry for thinking that your self-worth was measured in his eyes. I’m sorry for every time you didn’t feel loved. I’m sorry for not showing you I love you enough. I’m sorry I think you have wings, when all you have are feet. I’m sorry I overwork you, deprive you of what you need, curse at you, wish you were this or wish you were that, but you’re doing your best and that’s all I can ask for.

I, however, am not sorry for the tattoo that decorates your left side. I’m not sorry for the days I put effort in, or the days I don’t. I’m not sorry for the days I leave make-up in its bag. I’m not sorry for flowing with your ebbs and ebbing with your flows. I’m not sorry for being sexual, and I’m not sorry for the days that touching is the last thing you want. I’m not sorry for feeling beautiful when he looks at you like that, even when I know you don’t look your best.

You don’t always need to look your best. You just need to feel good about you. Who the actual fuck cares? Yeah, compliments are nice. But backhanded compliments don’t feel good. Like, who the actual fuck cares if your “thigh gap looks good today?!” And you didn’t ask for this thigh gap, Goddammit. So don’t let other girls make you feel guilty for it. Having a thigh gap isn’t even that big of a deal. It’s based on the size of your hips anyway, not anything else. You’re teeny, you’re tiny, you’re small, you’re petite and that’s okay!

Know that you are beautiful just the way you are. Your ins and outs are beautiful. Your subtle curves are beautiful. Your crooked, chipped teeth are beautiful. Your eyes are beautiful. Your freckles that only come out of hiding during the summer months are beautiful. Your breasts are beautiful, and just the right size. Your butt is beautiful. Your legs and thighs and thigh gap are beautiful. Your crazy lion hair is beautiful. Your dirty, worn-in feet are beautiful. Your arms are beautiful. Your heart and lungs and tongue are beautiful. Even when you’re old, grey and saggy – you will be beautiful, because you will be you.

I know this letter isn’t as poetic as I would have liked it to be, but, body, I love you.



Dear teen self,

I keep trying to imagine all the stuff rolling through your mind and body. Like the hurricane of 1938, which you experienced. You are being hit on every side and tossed around, while trying to stay placid in the very “eye” of a storm. I really admire your stability. It’s going to be a major strength throughout your life.

Your parents and siblings will never understand your struggles. They protect themselves by feeling you are just “different” in some mysterious way, and that you will grow out of this adolescence. You can live with your Dad’s indifference and your Mom’s sad demeanor. But I ache for you. Being different has no name yet and no society that welcomes what you will later discover as “gay.” You are being punished by ignorance and silence, and yet your strength and resilience is remarkable. You sing, dance, lead, and socialize. You perform. You park your shy self at the back of the lot and then go take it with you on long walks, bike rides, hikes, and you compose music and poetry to share with God. Terrific! How, O how, do you know, against all odds, that God accepts you when it seems others don’t?  You are right about that. Hang on to that belief. You are accepted by God.

Now you’re also struggling with pacifism.   That’s a big one in the midst of this awful war.   You will feel so much wrath from family and peers if you declare you are a pacifist when registering for the draft.   There are many alternatives to consider.   Try to find an honorable one and stick with your convictions.

Later in life you will realize what a rebel you are. It may even bring you honor. I know I am proud of who you are and who you will become.


To the Younger Me, Age 16,

Physiological age is defined in terms of biological stage and processes, and social age represents social events and practices that occur at various points across life course (such as entry into paid work) and the expectations associated with them. (Howson, Chapter 6)

In case you are confused, I am your future self, writing you a letter to inform you of certain things you can expect as we are growing older every day. We have always appreciated witty quotes, so I included this one (written above) for your reading pleasure. First of all let me prove to you that I am the future you, by telling you something that only we would know. Your first memory is a painful one; we were almost burned alive in a VW Bus at age 3. That probably wasn’t convincing enough, let me try again. You absolutely hated your first job, the boss was creepy and you couldn’t wait to get out of there. Luckily it only took a half an hour and you told him, “If you want it done that way, do it yourself.” How’s that?

If you aren’t convinced that I am the future you, don’t worry. Read this anyway, it will open your eyes to many mistakes that we have made along the way and give you the antidote to those annoying quirks that people can’t seem to understand about us. First of all, Jessie, you don’t know it all!  Our body is changing every day. Stop dying your hair. It looks awful. I stopped dying my hair three years ago and I can tell you, you don’t have that many gray hairs. At the time that you started dying your hair you found one gray hair, just let it go. Gray hair adds sophistication and character to your already beautiful self.  Protect your face and the rest of your skin from the sun. The sun ages you and gives you wrinkles. Drink plenty of water; your skin will thank you. Although aging hasn’t been fun for us, we are still happy to be alive. You will have two beautiful children, that is all you will be allowed. That is if you decide to have the hysterectomy at 30. Think this over for a while don’t just jump to conclusions just because you won’t have a period anymore. Think long about this. Before this after your second child, we make a decision to permanently make it impossible to have any more children. Think about this. The side effects of this are more detrimental to you then you will ever believe. The long standing side effects of this decision will send you into a spiral of self destructive behaviors including drug use. A decision of being sterile is a permanent one you cannot change your mind once it is done.

As far as relationships are concerned you aren’t very experienced in them. I have a few pointers. Don’t go rushing into the arms of every man who smiles at you. Smiles are a deceptive trait that men who don’t want a commitment often use to lure you in. It will catch your attention every time. Would you pet a tiger if you thought it were smiling? The same thing goes for a man with a smile. Sometimes they are up to no good and will cause you more suffering than happiness. This is not true for all the men we have encountered, though. Keep in mind that we have two beautiful children that we are raising. The first of these pregnancies will give you more stretch marks than you could ever imagine. This change in your body is natural and most women have stretch marks. They are proof that we are women and have earned our stripes. The second pregnancy will cause you to be the most aware. We are aware of this pregnancy almost from the point of conception. It is an agonizing process and there are many risks that come into play during this time. However, both children possess similar traits as you and I promise it will be worth it. I will give you one clue. You have a boy and a girl, not necessarily in that order.

The last thing I will tell you is this. In order to age gracefully you must begin to take better care of yourself. Start exercising even if you don’t think you need to or want to. Exercising and eating right are fundamentally part of assisting the aging process to go as smoothly as possible. Every day that you look in the mirror; be sure to tell yourself that you are beautiful. I promise that even through the most gruesome times in your life everything will turn out just fine. Life can be about struggle sometimes, and we know suffering and pain very well. It is our long lost friend and sometimes brings us comfort in its familiarity.

I have enjoyed writing this to you. I only hope you take it seriously. Life isn’t a game and not everything is going to be a good time. Love you so much and take care.


Jessica LaRose

P.S. It does get better, you just have to wait and see.


Dear nine-year-old Ellie,

Note:  There are two incidents mentioned in the letter that need an explanation. The books that were burned were communist books, probably Marxist theory. The TV show that is mentioned was live coverage of the Army-McCarthy hearings.  Those hearings were held in the senate and were a hunt for people with current or former Communist ties. There were many people who lost jobs and whose lives were seriously impacted. My mother had been a member of the Communist Party.

Dear nine-year-old Ellie,

I would like to tell you some things that I think will help you while you are growing up. First of all, try not to be upset by Mom’s worries. She is always worrying and it doesn’t matter what you do. If it is not one thing it is another. Even though she teaches classes on how to be a good parent, and has some children come to her to talk about their problems, she does not know how to be a good parent to you. She has no idea who you are really.  Also, try to pay attention when she does something that would make someone else angry. It is important to know what she does that makes you mad. She has you feeling that being angry is bad and means something is wrong with you, so you’ve learned to hide it from her and yourself.  I remember when Mom said you spilt the milk because you were angry. That was just not true but it sure was confusing. You should let Mom know when you really are angry. There is nothing wrong with being angry especially when there is a good reason.

 You should also try to tell Mom how you really feel, She thinks she knows but has no idea. I know this is difficult because she is likely to see it as proof that something is the matter with you. She sent you to a psychiatrist (Grace Abbot) when you were 5 and asked her if the psychiatrist could help you not be shy.  Grace liked your brother but not you and did not think you were smart, which you are, very smart. You stopped being honest with Mom and Grace when you learned to fake it and tell them what they wanted to hear, e.g. that you thought you had a penis and it was cut off.

 It is important to find a way to make Mom pay attention to what is really going on with you. For example, when you saw them burning books and Mom told you that the books were about ideas some people thought were wrong.  She said that she and Dad were afraid they could get in trouble if people saw the books when they were moving.  This scared you. There will be something on television soon that will make them nervous. You will know that and you should tell them when it scares you.

Mom has also made you feel something is wrong with you because you are afraid to talk to other kids. Since you are living in a neighborhood where everyone else is Catholic and the kids are not allowed to talk to you because you are Jewish, it makes perfect sense that you are afraid. Especially since the kids surrounded you and told you that you killed Jesus. They also made you say the Lord’s Prayer. No wonder you believe no one will want to be your friend.

When you move, Mom is going to send you to a summer recreation program every morning in one of the parks so you can make friends. Not wanting to go, you should refuse and insist on just going to the pool where you can swim and read to your heart’s content.  Going to the park, just sitting on the sidelines and refusing to play will only make Mom more nervous and she will get on your case more than she already has. When you start school and are afraid to talk, you should tell her to leave you alone, you will talk and play with other kids when you are good and ready. Just refusing to talk all year will again make her more worried and raise the risk of ANOTHER THERAPY APPOINTMENT.

Mom will do some other things that she shouldn’t do. She will start working at home as a therapist seeing patients. She will see some kids and you will have to hide when they come. There will be one boy she sees, Joseph Liff, who will be in your class. He will be the class clown and you will know he knows that your mother is supposed to know about kids. You will wonder what he thinks about you, the strange girl who doesn’t say anything and stays away from everyone.  Mom should not be seeing kids who will know you. She should not be seeing patients somewhere where you have to hide when they come.

You should try to tell Mom what you are really thinking.  Know this is going to be hard because Mom will analyze everything, but it is better to take that chance than to have to hide inside yourself all the time. Since she thinks something is the matter anyway you may as well tell her the truth. I know it is scarier to have her think that that the real you is a problem than it is to hear her worrying about someone she has made up in her head, but I think it is important that she get an idea of who you really are.

I want you to know that I respect you and am very proud of you. Even though Mom acts like she knows all about you and your real needs, you know better. You have your own version of the truth and you are holding on to it for dear life. When you read books you are learning how people feel and think. You have a strong version of yourself which you will develop more once you leave home. You will turn out to be a terrific person.  I am sure you know I love you but I need to say it again. I love you and am there for you.

 The 70 year old Ellie

To my past self currently in middle school,

Listen up, ya little shit, because I’ve got something to tell you about the person you become that’s important for you to know, or I’m afraid of what’ll happen to you. Because I know what happens. Still reading? Here it is: You are in fact not a little shit. You do grow into quite the little shit, but in the best of ways that, whether or not your friends will love you for it, you will see yourself as the biggest little bamf that ever walked the face of the earth.

So, I’m going to sound like our mom for a second, but with me you know I’m sincere. (We don’t take bullshit, we never have. Be proud of yourself for that, you are not going to believe some of the people we meet!) Don’t you give a rat’s ass about what those bitches say, except to make a joke out of it. I spent altogether too damn much time getting too angry and making myself physically sick over those idiots. I’m going to tell you right now, don’t be afraid to get up on that high horse, because in Georgetown, you are better than them. They’re idiotic and senseless to a degree you won’t fully understand until you transfer in high school. (You’re going to meet a woman who suggests a bunch of different schools to go to and you are going to momentarily consider boarding school—do not do that. Trust me, from present me to past me, the minute you hear the name “Sparhawk” you’re headed in the right direction.) Only get angry enough to use that bottled anger as rocket-fuel to blast yourself out of there… while riding that long-legged horse.

You’re smart, not the smartest, but always smarter than you’re going to let on. You’re going to act like you’re forgetful when you remember every word. You’re going to stumble over words to avoid talking even though you could speak with the eloquence of a Brit while sounding ten times less pretentious. You’re going to play ignorant when it comes to technology because you’re afraid of breaking that expensive piece of equipment and you should keep doing that because you probably will. And all of these things are perfectly ok because you’re going to hate being watched, and have terrible stage fright and that’s ok—at the time I’m writing this, in my second year of college, you are still going to have bad stage fright. But don’t let that get in your way. At no point do you sign a contract to be a public speaker for your career, so who cares? It doesn’t matter! Don’t let people make you think it matters more than it does. I swear to you, the public speaking skills you gain during high school will be enough to get you through what you decide to do in the future. You do not need any more than that.

Also, that costume you’re thinking of wearing around. Yeah, that one. You know that one I mean. That’s right. That’s the one.

Wear it.

And listen, you’re going to have to put up with a lot of shit, but that shit is just going to make you gradually better. Just keep that in your head, as well as everyone else. Keep them in your head. If you don’t know what I mean yet, you soon will. They’re going to be really rough, especially with you already getting bullied. But it’ll turn out ok. You might have to keep it a secret a while, but by the end of high school they won’t even be worrisome. You will always have someone to keep you company if you need it. Just talk to a guy named Jeanne.

Now, I’ll be honest, this is a college assignment. So here is the obligatory “analysis” part where I say a bunch of things I kind of mean, but I’m really just pulling out of my ass and draping some things that barely relate to me for the sake of getting it done.

Not all feminists are extremist wack-jobs, and very early on in high school you’re going to be made painfully aware of just how bad sexism still is in the world. You’ve definitely heard the term “patriarchy” used in history class by now, so keep it in mind. It’s still the predominant viewpoint in the world, though it’s getting better, so, of course, male-view in media is making it seem like sexism isn’t as much of a problem as it once was. At the same time, it’s not quite as bad as feminist extremists believe. Just, don’t go looking at porn for the sake of being sneaky. I know you’re going to need it, and you shouldn’t be ashamed of it. You’re going to have some trouble when it comes to figuring out sex, but Byron will help and he’s actually not a womanizer. You’ll be able to trust him. Just forget about all social stigmas you might hear about concerning sex, and masturbation, and sexuality and just explore. But beware the porn sites, those have some nasty viruses you don’t want! When the website Tumblr comes out, get on it as soon as you hear about it. No matter what you tell yourself, you will get one, and it’s the safest place to enjoy your sexuality and you will not be judged at all!

The other thing you will learn is that sex doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t. Once you learn that you will grow into your androgyny and forget your body completely until you get off your lazy butt to exercise, or your libido starts kicking in. That is the only thing that your gender needs to be taken into account for: what you can do naturally and what you have to modify with toys in bed. That is all.

As for restraint of emotions, “sleep and sex,” as this book talks bout—forget them. Because I sure did! As soon as you get into college you’re going to realize something: we’ve all entirely abandoned restraint! We, and someday you, are going to flip the double-bird to maturity and accept that you are a kid at heart. (Well, all restraint except the small amount to keep situations from getting violent or unpleasant. Trust me, you need to. Some people are just not worth the drama.) And let’s face it, we’ve never restrained our emotions well. We’ve tried because most people are jerks and won’t let us just vent—no. Every time you open your mouth to say what you’re feeling, suddenly you’re “bitching.” If anyone says that, walk away and say fuck you. Don’t let them dare. There is no reason for this socially accepted idea that “not bothering” others with your problems is horseshit and is only there because some people “couldn’t be bothered” to be sympathetic to another person for ten minutes. Well, guess what. Not all problems are solvable. Not everyone is able to be reasoned with. Not all things can be fixed and everyone accepts that. And that’s why sometimes you have to “bitch” about it, because it’s the only way to let it out of you, and internalizing is for suckers. And it’s also why, since everyone accepts that fact, it bewilders me when nobody will let you just let it out and understand why it needs to be let out. Maybe you’ll come up with an idea, which I apparently forget about. But it is late. You will not be going to bed before three in the morning any given day after the first month of freshman year, even if you have a class at nine thirty. Have fun with that.