14 July 2018

Dear Seven Year Old Sophie

I wrote this in creative therapy last week and decided to share. This was completely free-written and hardly edited, which makes it a huge challenge to post. But with the encouragement of my truly amazing peers in the group, I have decided to share the original letter. Self-compassion means valuing my voice without endless editing. It is enough. 

In sixeen years time, you will continually hear about self-compassion. Psychologists will tell you to "be kind to yourself." Magazines and Social Media will encourage you to "take a bath, paint your nails, read a book or go for a walk." Mindfulness will become a buzzword and, in many ways, you will start to believe it.

As I write this now, I still believe it. Nonetheless, for the first time in my life I realise that it is me - twenty-three year old Sophie - who has the answer. Above any mindful memo or media mantra, Sophie knows the secret to self-compassion: stop blaming yourself. Stop translating "diabetes" to "deficit" and seeing yourself as inherently inferior. Stop viewing your life through a number-tainted glasses, where every high and low - hyper and hypo - signifies failure.

You will spend the next sixteen years placing others on a pedestal, convinced that you must always start from the ground. Waist-deep in test strips, finger pricks and little glass vials - your liquid life solution - you continually resolve to be "good", be "worthy", be "perfect". You are also determined that you will never be a burden to those you love, the ones who will time-and-again pick you back up again. You often fell, through no fault of your own, but you still bore the bruises of guilt and shame.

As you apologised to your mother for another sleepless night, or blushed red at the recurring sight of damp bedsheets, did you ever stop to think: I am the one who has to lives it.

When your blood sugar shot up to 17.9 before a GCSE Drama performance, you thought only of your cast-mates as you went on scene after scene, downing bottle after bottle in your thirst to be "okay".   Later that week, when it plummeted below 3, you refused to stop the clock and would do the same again, and again. Did you ever  pause to consider: I am deserving of self-compassion too.

As you clung to your father's coat and buried your head into his arm, the routine blood tests pricking your skin, did you ever tell yourself: I am the one being pricked and poked  I am the one who was placed in a situation beyond my choosing

Have you ever apologised to yourself? Have you ever said sorry to yourself for always saying "sorry"? Well I'm saying it now, seven year old Sophie. I'm sorry for sixteen years of saying sorry for something that wasn't your fault. You didn't cause your diabetes. You are not to blame. Over the years, D will try to beat you physically and professionals will be there to prevent this. But he will also try to beat you mentally - and this is where I come in.

I solemnly swear to you, seven-year old Sophie, that I will not let D beat us. D is not our story.  

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