You should smile more. And laugh, too. It may be hard with your parents’ divorce going the way it did. Made you grow up long before you were ready, and that wasn’t fair to you. You discovered how human your parents were, and it hurt like hell. Forgive them for it. Sooner rather than later. It’ll make you feel a whole lot better. Everything, and I do mean everything, comes full circle whether you’re over it or not. Get this—your parents are the best of friends, now. I know, I didn’t believe it when it happened, either.
Your first love will not be your last love even if it feels that way. Consider yourself lucky, though, your first love was a real love. That man treated you like the precious being you are, and you’ll love him for that. Even when you had to leave. Spending your life with him would’ve been great, but you had to learn how to spend your life with yourself first. He left some big, wonderful shoes to fill, and it’ll take you a while to leave those shoes in the past where they belong. But, remember those feelings. Remember being treated that way. It’ll come in handy when you need to decipher through the bullshit that comes later.
There are going to be many a man to whom you should’ve never given your number. There are going to be a few to whom you should’ve never given yourself. And even some you wish you had never met at all. Believe me, you’re a rare find. You come with a lot of shit, but that’s because you give a lot of love. Not everyone will treat you like you treat them, not everyone will give you the same love you give, and it will break your heart. Some will say you’re too much to deal with. You have too much of this or not enough of that. You require too much. And, you’ll believe them. You will question yourself and wonder how you should change. What you could’ve done differently.
You’ll try to hold onto one or two of them, even when you know better. Even when you feel bad when you’re with them, you’ll abandon what you know about love and try to make it work. Yes, even you will do things that you once thought beneath you. Forgive yourself for it. Sooner rather than later.
Not to worry, God finds a way to snatch those Negroes clean out of your life. Even when you go back to get your heart broken for the second and third time, God still has your back and moves them away from you as many times as it takes for you to know better. And when you meet the man God has for you, and you will meet him, you’ll understand.
Make sure you thank God for being God.
One very hard lesson you have to practice everyday is how to live your life for yourself. That responsibility you feel for everyone, especially your family, won’t go away. You are your father’s daughter, and he feels responsible for everyone, too. It comes with the territory. It’ll feel like a burden, but that’s only when you put their needs ahead of your own. Stop doing that. It serves no one. The dreams for the life you want are huge, and don’t you dare put them on the shelf so you can take care of someone else’s dreams. You’ll fight with yourself on this a lot. But your dreams are worth it, so keep fighting for them. Your family is more understanding than you think. They’re way more supportive than you imagined. It’s rather beautiful, actually.
Lastly, let yourself off the hook. You’re going to make so many mistakes, bad decisions, and totally fuck things up. You’ll have it all together and then lose it completely. More than once. Stop being so hard on yourself. You are extraordinary, but you’re human. Forgive yourself for it. Sooner rather than later.
As always with love,
Danielle Gilyot was born and raised in New Orleans. She’s been running back home ever since. After she graduated from the University of Miami in 2003, she ran back home. After Hurricane Katrina, she lived in Houston and ran back home again. This is where you’ll find her today. Danielle finished her MFA in Fiction writing from the University of New Orleans in 2011, and participated in the VONA Miami writing workshops.She is a member of NOLA’s Melanated Writers Collective.
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