This letter was created for a Letters To My Younger Self Seminar conducted for Epicure Selections, a company based in Victoria, British Columbia.
Terra Larsen is an Executive Sales Director of Epicure Selections from Campbell River, British Columbia. She started her business in April, 1998 and has been among the top three saleswomen in her category in 1998, 2001, 2003, 2004 and 2005. She has also been a Top Sponsor and Top Sales company-wide for many years, and was voted for Epicure’s Caring and Sharing award. Before Epicure, she was an accountant at a land development company where her career was going great guns. By 1997, she had been there seven years, and was negotiating many of the company’s real estate deals. She was a staunch perfectionist, she said. “I was such a serious person. Life was about rules.”
Along came a fellow named Jeremy, who was on the company’s construction team. He was a lot of fun and seven years younger than Terra. He asked her out approximately 10 times before she said: “Okay. But only this once.”
Terra had previously run away from two different marriage proposals. She obviously wasn’t eager for a serious relationship. However, Jeremy’s persistence persuaded her and, after a long engagement, they married. She was afraid of making the wrong choices and ending up divorced, like her parents.
Not long after the marriage, Terra found herself pregnant, despite her many precautions and her plans to travel extensively with Jeremy before they became parents. This shook the couple up. But not nearly as much as the birth of their daughter, Aysha, who cried unrelentingly for four months. “People would spend a little time around her,” Terra remembers, “and then they’d flee, family included.” She and Jeremy were soon exhausted and emotionally depleted. “As much as we both loved her, if we could have changed our minds at this point, and given her back, I would have to say we might have.”
Terra, now 42, is writing to her younger self eleven years ago, when she was 31 and going to doctor’s appointments after doctor’s appointments trying to figure out what was wrong with Aysha.
This is sheer misery. You are exhausted from lack of sleep and your nerves are frayed from Aysha’s continual, unremitting wail. But far worse than the physical toll is the psychological pain. How heartbreaking it is to feel like a complete failure as a mother. You feel utterly unable to help this infant.
Colic. Everyone says she has colic. The doctors and nurses give you a condescending look that says, “Welcome to motherhood.” Yet your instincts tell you something is terribly wrong. And deep inside, the anger is mounting. All you hear from other moms is that it’s such a joy to be a new mother. Why is everyone so close-mouthed about nursing, crying–all the awful parts? It makes you feel like a monster.
My dear, poor Terra. I don’t doubt you. And I don’t blame you. It is okay to feel terrible. Really, it is. You are not the only mother in the world who has felt this way.
Trust those instincts of yours. They are correct: Something is terribly wrong. Aysha has a split abdominal muscle that pinches her intestines causing great pain. It will take even more visits to the hospital before a nurse will see this condition and—finally—believe you. Finally, you and Jeremy will get some relief.
Unfortunately, by then both of you will feel like you’ve been through a war. And your marriage will be a casualty of this experience. You’ll feel enormous guilt over your feelings about Aysha, and this will be compounded by remorse about choosing to end your marriage.
But these experiences will change you for the better. You’ll no longer be a rule-bound person. You’ll become very flexible. You’ll trust your instincts. You needed these kinds of extreme experiences in order to free you from your straight-jacketed ideas about life.
But the greatest benefit is the one that you will finally confer upon yourself: being at peace with your choices. In time you’ll recognize that ending the marriage was not only good for you, it was good for Aysha. How? Because you and Jeremy will excel at co-parenting, as separate people. But together, you never could have made it work.
With serenity, at last,