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I wrote this letter roughly a year after divorcing my son’s father.  I was living in a tiny apartment with my small son. It was away from my support network in a new town. I was tired, lonely, and determined to start fresh on my own terms. I scribbled the following letter of encouragement to myself on the back of a cell phone bill.

Dear Love,

It has been a year and a couple weeks since you said goodbye to being a wife, and hello to being true to yourself.

Somedays you will feel like maybe it would have been better for everyone if you had stayed.  Somedays you will carry the incapacitating weight of guilt for waiting so long to get out.  In those moments, stop what you are doing and slap yourself. You did the absolute best that you could under the circumstances. I know. I was there.  It was earth shattering, gut wrenching, with moments of fleeting beauty. It made you question everything you thought you knew about the world; about yourself. It was scary. It was lonely.

The answer is to acknowledge those memories and feelings out loud. Pulling them from the recesses and forcing them into the sunlight reduces their power over your own story. It fuels your next step. Keep one foot in front of the other. Keep pushing forward. Keep going. It is okay to be lonely. It is okay to not know what the fuck is going on. It is okay to be fearful of too many choices. It is okay to eat ice cream for dinner because you are too tired to cook.

Perfection is a myth.

Days will blend together. You will make wrong choices. Do yourself a solid and make good friends with screwing up. Fearful avoidance only serves to make you feel like crap. Failing forward is not a loss. Failing and doing the same thing over and over again is where you lose.

Life is overwhelming.

Call it out. Ask for help. Cry if you need to. Know that there will come a time when you need to wipe your face and pick your ass off the floor and keep moving. You are responsible for your own success: emotional, physical, financial, spiritual, parental. All of these things will come from you. Love, cry until there are no more tears and get the fuck up.

Your son will push you like you have never been pushed. Resist the urge to yell. It doesn’t teach him anything. Love is best given with gentle hands and soft voices. He will respond eventually. It takes him a while. He has to learn some things the hard way. He gets that from his dad. Your son’s creative spirit and his love of learning is voracious.  He gets that from you.

Seek out resources.

Music is your friend right now. Embrace it. Drink it. Taste it. It is the medium that doesn’t judge you, or want you do be anything other than who you are which despite how you feel in this moment, is pretty damn remarkable.

Going back to school is a fantastic plan. Don’t be afraid to let that go when you are presented with other opportunities. Learning is so much more than the classroom.

Embrace advocacy.

Be your own advocate. Your voice is beautiful. Let it be heard.
Be your son’s advocate, even if it is to allow him to be away from you so that you can rest.

Don’t be afraid to ask to be held. You physiologically need to be held. This has nothing to do with sex and everything to do with knowing on a physical level that you are not alone in the universe. It doesn’t make you weak. It is one of the great sources of your strength.

You don’t owe answers to anyone but yourself.

Your intellect is far more than your net worth or jean size.
You are worthy of the space you take up.

You are not alone. I love you.



I still choke up when I come across these words. The scribbled ink on folded paper helped start a process of healing.  It helped me to believe in myself as a woman, as a mother, as a human being.  I struggle with self-doubt.  I still try to jam myself into roles that don’t fit me and bruise. Good or bad, my future belongs to me. Life may feel impossible but for today I will have hope.

Jerusha Gray

Jerusha Gray is insatiably curious. This curiosity, coupled with a brain that never shuts up, drives her to paint and draw, read prodigiously, make music, write, and sing in grocery stores.


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