This July, my daughter lost a long battle with mental health. She taught me a lot living, and now in remembrance. She was brilliant, tender, and trans. She was also introverted and hard to know. She once told me “Meeting people is overrated.” and I’m starting to wonder if there was some truth to that. Even though she had a loving circle of friends and family, there was still things out there that made it hard for her to feel belonging.
I’m trying to piece together something good out of all of this, and so hopefully this helps all of you out there.
Make your inner voice one you love and admire
Once my inner voice was critical, sharp and biting. I thought it would keep me striving for perfection. What it actually did was punish me, in the hopes that would prevent punishing from others. I was running from its scathing voice. The biggest change I’ve ever made was to change that voice to a compassionate, gentle and wise mentor. Always patient, but still looking for the better way. Make it Gandalf, not Saruman.
Serena’s voice was insidious. In her journal she talked about how it was hard to escape, always there. She was brilliant, and the sad thing is that it was as brilliant as she was, and in the end, tricked her into oblivion. No matter what we all said and did, it was that voice that had the final say, and so it is with most of us. Be kind to yourself.
The future is bright and terrifying
Serena had the unique perspective of seeing me closely from the outside. In some ways she shared traits of the person I was at her age, but in our time. Hearing her perspectives gave me a more compassionate view of others. As a trans woman, she was more than my pronoun shepherd; she showed me how young people struggle with identity.
There’s so many paths to go and so many have done so well that it’s hard to take that first step if you think you have to be a static definition. If our children could safely experiment with their future, I honestly believe we can keep them safer. Our society puts too much stake in success, not the journey, and there’s so many journeys one can take in a life.
There’s no limit on positivity
You will NEVER say I said “I love you” too much. There’s always something good to say about someone and there’s only so much time we all have together. Helping another take a step on their journey is the best thing you can do.
Different individuals have different needs. Serena was very reserved and had a large bubble. She was often uncomfortable with touch. However, we don’t know what people need at any one time. Always ask for a hug, or what someone needs. I wished I asked more.
It’s ok to cry
These days I cry all the time. Much less now, but I do it now shamelessly and let it wash over me. Shame has no place in honest feelings. Feeling your sadness is a part of you and you are being honest to everyone if you let it happen.
Ok this is all I can handle for now.
Be true to yourself and love your people.