To fourteen-year-old Elijah,
I remember you well, you don’t know me yet. We still have so much in common after all these years. We still love the same people, we’re still passionate about the same things, and we still find comfort in all the same places. But I’m not here to discuss our similarities, I think it’s more important that you know our differences. I want you to know why I’ve become who I am, and why you won’t always be the way you are.
It’s been a rough couple of years for you since your grandma passed. It’s hard to explain the impact that it’s had on your life but, it’s forcing you to see all the grown-up issues that exist in your family. Grandmothers are good at hiding those issues from the babies, but you’re not a baby anymore.
I think you’re being selfish right now with your behavior, but so is everyone else around you. You’ve been getting yourself into a lot of trouble and that’s not the kind of person you’re going to want to be. It’s okay for now, because consequences aren’t as serious for a fourteen-year-old as they are for a grown man, but you will go to jail one day and you’ll have to take responsibility for your actions. There will come a time when you’re denied a job or an apartment because of things that show up on your background check. It’s discouraging, and it hurts but the only person you will have to blame is yourself.
I won’t really get too deep into the situation with Pops but there are some things you should know about the relationship between him and mom. Last summer you and pops has some rough times and I’m sure that has a lot to do with y’all not speaking right now. The black eye, the scars, and bruises, all that stuff heals over time but the things he said will stick with you forever. He was telling you the truth, he’s not your biological father. Pops ain’t perfect but I can promise you he’s never going to lie to you or steer you wrong. Any advice he gives you is probably something you should listen closely to, because he’s been through it, and he loves you more than anything.
This letter isn’t to tell you that you should have resentment toward your parents, it’s to tell you that things will get better. Things won’t get better overnight. In fact, times will get harder before they improve. The most important thing for you, will be to focus on yourself despite everything that’s going on around you.
Familiar faces will appear and disappear again. Just trust your instincts and god will show you who will be consistent in your life. You have good friends that you can trust, but you won’t start making great friends until you learn how to be one. The same concept will apply with your family. Once you learn to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, you’ll start to understand why people do the things they do. I don’t have all the answers to all your questions, but most of them you will be able to figure out on your own. You’re much smarter and much stronger than you give yourself credit for, and that’s part of the reason people are so hard on you.
At the end of the day, you’re a good kid with a good heart, and eventually you’ll start making good decisions. I know how it feels to watch everything you believe in turn out to be a lie. Life isn’t a fairy tale though. The only way to get a happily ever after is to earn it. From now on, when you’re looking for something to believe in, you need to look in the mirror and believe in your damn self. I know you’re going to make it, and I’m not just saying that. I’ve seen it with my own two eyes.