"In the course of history many more people have died for their drink and their dope than have died for their religion or their country" ~ Aldous Huxley
My dearest E.,
I am not talking about the drugs that you take when you are ill, or the drugs you take to try to keep yourself healthy (like vitamins). Let us face the truth: that we live in an age of pills, prescription, legal or otherwise. And I need to tell you this because it is important that I do, that you value your life for what it is worth, because it is a wonderful life that has been given to you- and I hope that you never ruin what you have for an addiction to drugs or alcohol.
You don't want to know that your mother has done some bad things, but I will tell you this because you are my daughter and I owe this to you: that I was once addicted to nicotine. I smoked for several years when I left secondary school. I smoked throughout the whole of my 20s. I smoked for 12 years, until I got pregnant with you and stopped. And started again a few months after you were born. I am clean again now. And I hope to be for the remainder of my life.
Have I done drugs? Yes, I have. Marijuana. I was 18. And that was where I drew the line. I admit, had my resolve not been stronger, I may have ended up abusing even more illegal substances. I was able to stay grounded, because I thought of my parents, and how upset they'd be if anything happened to me, if I became a junkie, if I became an addict. I was a party girl, I had cool friends. I now know that no matter how cool my friends had been, how they told me I was cool, too, that it was ok to be doing drugs, they were wrong. It's never right to be using substances. And drugs are the worst, because they don't react the same with everybody. We're all special, we're individuals with different body systems. What is ok for someone may not be ok for you. Your body may react very differently.
Have I done alcohol? Sure, I have. I've had drinks, and I've got drunk heaps of times. I was young and carefree. I was never an alcoholic, though. And I always remembered my father telling me not to drink and drive. It's very important. Even though I knew my father would beat the living daylights out of me for leaving my car in a strange place overnight, I got a sober friend to send me home once when I knew I had drunk too much to drive carefully. Now I have the occasional glass of wine, a shot of whiskey, some beer. On special occasions. I don't like alcohol much these days. I'd like to think it's because I'm growing more mature, and perhaps, more responsible? And I ALWAYS watched my drinks, whether I was in a club or even if I was in the company of friends. Be very careful with your drinks.
I read a very sad, horrifying story in Readers' Digest, about a wonderful girl who was fun, loving and popular. Her parents, teachers and friends adored her. She had good grades, she was generous and kind, she was a good daughter who got along well with her parents, and she had friends she loved to hang out with. But she made a little mistake one day which cost her her life. She took an Ecstasy pill when her friend offered it to her. Perhaps she was thinking, it's only one little pill. And everyone said it made them feel good after they took it. That one pill killed her because her body could not take it. She died, and she was only 16 years old. I wanted to cry for her parents. And it scared me when I read that story, because that girl could be you someday. And for the life of me, I want to protect you forever, but I know that I can't. So, you must protect yourself.
I know, that when you are a teenager or young adult, growing up and finding out things about yourself, other people and the world, it can be a great challenge, and you find yourself confused about many things. But the world can be a beautiful place if only you allow it. Success will come to you if you work hard and allow it into your life. I hope this doesn't happen- but the likelihood that it will is almost a surety: that you will someday become secretive and sullen, and do not want to share your life with your parents. Your parents may seem annoying, over-protective, cloying. Nothing is ever good enough for them. You want to break free. You're growing up, you're not a baby anymore! You want to make your own decisions! I have been there, my sweet one. I have been in that place. And I realize now, that I needed to be there to become the person that I am today, and because I had been there, I am now more responsible and appreciative, loving and kind, and because I had been there, I know now how immense a parent's love is. It is a wonderful thing which surpasses everything in the world, I know this for a fact.
It was probably my parents' love for me, at the back of my mind, that kept me firm in my beliefs, in not giving in to extreme peer pressure (I did cave in to peer pressure, to a certain extent) and to do the things "all the kids were doing" in my time. Sex, drugs, rock & roll and all that jazz. I'm not perfect, I wasn't exactly Ms. Goody Two-Shoes. I was rebellious, but not so rebellious that I would've ruined my life.
It was also at this time that I realized, that the old adage about how children were exactly like their parents, or copied or imitated their parents by example, was far from the truth. My parents were good, exemplary people who showed me good examples, they were role models who taught me how to be a compassionate generous person, who showered me with love in the hopes that I would be a cheery, lovable person who would shower that love onto others. So where did they go wrong, if indeed it is true that children follow their parents by example? I cannot see a single thing that they have done wrong, except to give me everything I ever wanted. My parents did not teach me how to consume alcohol, or drugs. My parents did not teach me how to pick up a cigarette and smoke. My parents did not teach me how to have sex with a boy. So how did I learn all these....? I gave in to peer pressure.
I was nothing like my parents, I behaved like a shameless hussy, and I was ashamed, but only much later. Which also serves as a notice to me, my sweet E., that regardless of how I bring you up, that you may, someday be compelled to conform with your surroundings and your friends. And the only hope that I have for you, if that ever happens, is that you know where you stand, that you must judge the right from wrong, the docile from the extreme, and that you will always be careful and look out for yourself. And know, no matter how embarassed you are to explain to your mother that you'd had sex with a boy, or that you smoked a cigarette, your mother will forgive you and love you anyway, because she knows what you're talking about.
Your mother wants you to be a good, honourable person, to have the same values she was brought up with. Your mother knows that the teenage years and your early adult years can be trying, but that you will pass that phase and it will shape you into a better person if you would allow it to. Your mother wants you to be strong and firm in your beliefs, so that you will never ever have to doubt your worth as a person: know that you are special and wonderful, and if the people out there cannot see that simply because you want to hold on to your values and/or beliefs, then they are just not meant to be your friends or people deserving of your love.
Your mother wants you to know that she loves you unconditionally, and that if she ever shouts at you, or is angry at you, it is only because she loves you. And there is nothing to be ashamed about, ever, because you are your mother's daughter. You are special.