To The Woman Who Is Cruel,

I want you to know something.  I know that you are hurting.  I know that you are in pain.  I know that you are doing the very best that you can to cope and process and deal with everything that has happened to you.  

I am also learning one very important thing...none of the things that you say, the cruel messages, the slander and gossip, the name calling and verbal abuse...none of it has to do with me.  You are suffering and you don't know how to handle it or where to place your anger and frustration.  

I am close so I am an easy target.  I have things that you have lost and that makes you mad and angry.  I am distancing myself and that makes you insecure.  

I am learning so much from you and from this situation.  I have watched as things fell apart, not able to do anything.  Not stepping in sooner when I should have.  I have watched you try and quit the fight.  I am learning that I am MAD and that I am beating myself up for the names that you called me and the attack you made on my very character.  I am learning that I care deeply about what people think about me...I need to be better about  that.  I am also learning that I don't have a very forgiving heart and I know that I NEED to work on that.  

We don't really know anything about each other.  We think we do but we really don't.  How well can you really know someone that you are not intimately invested in.  My husband, my kids, my small circle of people.  There are VERY few people that really know who I am.  

In one text message you attacked the very things that I have spent years trying to overcome.  In one text message you made me question my very worth and existence and the kind of person that I am and the way I treat others.  

I am not that person you described.  I know that you are sick.  I know that you are in pain and I know that I trigger something in you.  I am sorry about that.  I am deeply sorry that you are in pain but I know that you are projecting your grief on to me.  

I want to love better, to serve better, to keep my own personal feelings more in check when things like this come up.  I know I will never be able to be loved or even liked by everyone.  In fact I am learning more and more that I actually have a lot of people that don't like me that much...but I think that is stemmed from very similar reasoning behind your complete and utter dislike for me.  

It is never ever my intention to hurt someone.  I would never go out of my way to purposely hurt you or anger you or add to your daily battle for mental health and happiness.  I know it is harder for you than most.  

I am deeply sorry if I have done anything that would have caused you more pain.  

I am sorry that you are sick and that you are just doing the best you can to survive.  

I am sorry that you are alone and that you have lost so much.

I hope one day you will see that I am not the person that you think.  Maybe one day when you are not looking at life through busted glasses you will know different.  

 I know that all of this is misplaced.  I don't have to take the abuse.  No one should be treated that way no matter what you have going on...so I will set the boundaries necessary to protect myself...but I do hope and pray that you can continue to get the help you need, that you can see that I am not the enemy in your life and that you will one day see more clearly.  

We will never be friends but I remember you at a different time and I know that all of this isn't you.  

And more importantly I know that none of this is me.  

To My 14 Year Old Self,

As I sit here living through my 38th year of life I have been thinking about you.  I have been wanting to have a conversation with you for a long time.  

I know you are still in there.  Maybe hiding from all the hard, scary things that you have seen.  

I hope you will come out of hiding, sit, and talk with me.  I want to tell you so many things.  

It is almost impossible for me to remember what life was like then.  Such a different time, an innocent and wonderful time BUT not without its trials as you struggle to find your place, to discover who you are and what possibilities are available to you....I have to tell you that even after all these years later we are still trying to figure that out so cut yourself some slack...it will change more times than you can count.  

You are so beautiful.  Yes you are beautiful on the outside and yes you will continue to grow into that look BUT that is NOT all you are.  You have a light inside of you...A very bright light.  There will be years when that light is almost completely snubbed out...by yourself, by others, by lies.  You must understand that your outside beauty is not your worth.  You put that identity on yourself.  At some point around the age you are now you started to believe that the ONLY thing you had to offer anyone was the way you looked.  It became who you were and you sacrificed so much to make that lie truth.  The light grows dim.  

Even now at 36 I find myself overcome with the lie that if I don't look a certain way that people wont listen, wont take me seriously, wont pay attention to me, wont like me and that terrifies me.  It terrifies me to be invisible.  But I am not....my light is bright and it shows...not because of how I look but because of who I am, my energy, my passion, my voice and my desire to help others.  

  Even now you are starting to do the "self-hate" talk.  You are already so judgmental, so hard on yourself, so insecure and scared.  I am so sorry to tell you that there will be many many years that you will hate yourself.  That you will barely be able to look at yourself in the mirror.  

Oh my darling if only I could change those years for you.  If only we knew then what we know now.  If only you could see the path that was waiting for you and your life.....but maybe just maybe those years of hate was the only way to turn to years of discovery and love.  Perspective.  

i wish I could say that we went on to reach our fullest potential.  I wish I could tell you that we did everything we ever dreamed of doing.  I wish I could say that life just worked out for us.  Maybe I could tell you the ending now, but I will wait....

For many years you will experience so much pain and suffering.  You will break in ways that no one should ever experience.  You will cry and wail in agony over so much that was lost.  You will harm yourself in others in tragic ways.  You will have great grief and shame in that.  

You will think you have found love only to be broken down, stripped of light and love and respect.  You will come to care very little about yourself and your worth.  You will lose that bright, funny, and caring heart for a long time.  

You will want to die.  

You will try.  

You will fail.  

And then, my darling.  My beautiful Ashley, something happens.  LIFE happens to you in a way that you thought would never happen for you.  YOU, the forgotten are NOT abandoned...you have been tested, you are being prepped, you are ready to do ALL that you are meant to do.  

It is not the picture you have now in that clean and pure thought of yours.  In some ways it will leave you filled with regret of opportunities lost or missed.  BUT in some ways it will make your heart and spirit SOAR like nothing you have ever felt.  

You will know GREAT LOVE in your life.  You will spend the best years of your life with the best love of your life.  You will be honored and respected and restored.  You will walk into motherhood in a new form that you thought was lost forever.  And you will embrace ALL of your children.  Being a mother will challenge you and push you and infuriate you but it will keep the flame burning bright.  THEY ARE FUEL TO YOUR FIRE.  

You will look in the mirror one day and finally see YOU.  See you in a way that you haven't since you were your age. You will see the light.  THAT IS ALL YOU WILL SEE.  You will see the love of your Savior.  You will, for the first time in your life start to understand his atoning sacrifice.  You will be deeply humbled by His love and you will know the truth of the lies that the enemy shared for so long.  You were meant for so much more and Satan would have done anything to keep you from living that divine potential.  

My dear Ashley, please remember that you have a family that loves you and that has truly sacrificed SO much to love you.  You are NOT alone in this journey.  You try to be so brave and strong, you try but there are just going to be times in your life that it is not possible.  

You will become a Big Tough Girl™  but that will not be done on your own.  Embrace the love, support, prayers and helping hand from others.  You will have many opportunities to pay it forward.  

YOU CAN DO THIS.  YOU WILL SURVIVE ALL THAT IS COMING TO YOU.  It wont be easy and it wont be anything that you wanted or planned for but I have watched a strength from you that I didn't know existed in a woman.