Wednesday 18 September 2019

Letter to myself:

We asked well-known Irish people to write the letter of advice they wished they'd received at a difficult time. Tara Flynn shares hers …

Author Tara Flynn.
Author Tara Flynn.

You look sad. Are you sad? I know you're doing your best to smile because you feel people are relying on you, but that sigh, when you sat down, was pretty deep. No matter how you battle to keep the sunny side up, the tell-tale signs will always bleed through. Or should that be tell-tale sighs? When people hear them, ask if you're OK, you'll say you're tired. That it's been a long day. That getting older is a bitch. And they will laugh, which is the effect you wanted the lie to have.

They've forgotten why you might be sad. It's none their fault; don't remind them. They haven't just lost their Dad and the ground beneath their feet is firm. Don't take that away from them. That's what you're thinking, isn't it? Have you ever thought you might be wrong?

Getting up is hard. Brushing your teeth is hard. Being around people - even the best ones - is exceedingly hard, so dealing with ones you don't know well is torture. Pushing through will take its toll. You are exhausted, give yourself some time. Take some moments to yourself; reclaim some space. I know you won't - I saw you not - but I still feel I should say it.

Remember to ask for help. You say this to other people all the time. You're not coping, so why say you are? Life may seem a battle, currently, but you are not at war. Surrendering to the sorrow doesn't mean you've given up, or that you're beaten, or that you won't come out fighting tomorrow. In fact, surrendering might be the very thing that helps you win.

The clouds do lift and the hole that opened up beneath your own feet does close. You know that, even now. Your head does, anyway. Time, as all the clichés reaffirm, takes care of everything. Even when you find yourself weeping in the canned vegetable aisle for "no good reason" and you admonish yourself for this supermarket sentimentality, you know this is a phase and it will pass. You just wish it would pass faster and that you didn't feel so weak.

You know you're strong. Everyone says so. If only you could be so sure. Lean on those who say so for a bit, and listen. They seem to know what they're talking about.

I won't be so trite as to tell you to keep your chin up and focus on the positive: that's what was wearing you out when we began. I won't mention lights at ends of tunnels, or pretend the way back is easy. I'm not even sure I'm there. It's early days. But I'm here, wherever this is. I'm here and I have hope. And help. Ask for help. Have hope. That's all.

Irish Independent

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