If I could, what would I tell my younger self? Have you ever thought about this? I have, every now and again. Just never put thoughts to writing. Until now.
I would tell myself, first and foremost, that life is very, VERY much worth living. I had strong doubts about this when I was young. So I'd want the young me to know there are reasons to hang on.
Next, I would tell the young me that though worth living, living won't be easy. Or fair. The young me already suspects this.
I'd explain that yes, marriages will happen. Plural. And so of course divorces (plural) will also happen. Cancer will happen, and so will a child and step children. And dogs. My faith will deepen and strengthen, my alcohol abuse will end of its own accord because I will simply no longer need the escape or the crutch.
I would explain that yes, I am different from most in my birth family. It is a difference that will last my entire lifetime, and it is a difference most in my birth family will never be able to understand or get past. I would lovingly but emphatically explain to my younger self that this is their issue. Not mine. And I should never allow them to make it mine.
I would ask my younger self to try and stop resenting my life's events conspiring to make me a woman of strength. It is inevitable, and once I can relax into it, I'll actually be happier being strong and independent. Equal partnerships will work for me, but being dependent on others never will.
Finally, I would tell my younger self that before I die I will experience (and enjoy) love in all of its many forms. But I must strive to recognize and accept that true love is a gift to give, not a gift to receive. And until I can - I will never truly know love. So the ultimate quest is not to experience love, but to know love.