A Letter To My 11 Year Old Self

November 10, 2017

Dear Joe,

Before you crinkle up this paper and throw it into the wastebasket next to the window, I implore you to read it. If not for you, for me — because I am you. But from 34 years in the future.

I am sending this to you on your 11th birthday, November 10, 1983, so pay attention.

Seriously, turn down your walkman and listen to me carefully. Trust me, you’ll have plenty of years to listen to Madonna’s Lucky Star. And honestly, you are in for such a treat — wait until 1998 when she releases Ray of Light.

Oh, and 2005, Confessions on a Dance Floor.

I figured that would get your attention.

Listen, life is rough right now at 8 Wakefield Circle, I get it. Actually, the word rough would be an understatement, it’s pretty brutal. Beyond brutal. I know what you are going through. It’s a secret from the world right now, but we share the same brain… and the same pain.

And one day you will share this secret with anyone who will listen. I promise you that.

While I sit on my comfortable sofa, on our 45th birthday — in amazing California — listening to Lady Gaga (you’ll love her, but she’s no Madonna) with my cat Tucker by my side,  my heart shatters for you. It breaks all over again.

First off, the horrible things Melvin does to you when your mother leaves the house, or is passed out drunk, are not your fault. Neither are the things he does to you in the basement. Or the attic. Or anywhere else he gets you alone. Get that idea out of your head RIGHT NOW! It’s hard to believe, but you are innocent. I know you sneak out into the farmer’s field behind the house and scream out into the night, “What have I done to deserve this?”

And that makes me want to wrap my arms around you and squeeze you while we cry together. Nobody will ever understand how it feels to scream out your pain into the night sky. The feeling of freedom that is quickly taken away the moment you walk back into the house.

But I’m here to tell you that you’ve done nothing wrong. You are a victim. Say it with me, “I am a victim. I have done nothing wrong. This is not my fault. I am only a child.”
I need you to tell yourself that everyday. Every single morning until you believe it, because I know it will take you years to believe that you are not at fault for Melvin raping you.

And that’s what it is, Joe, it’s rape.

Wipe your tears, because now comes the tough love.

I need you to be fucking strong. Yes, you might as well here me say fuck, because you my friend, will say it more than any other word created. I’d love to tell you to march downstairs right now and tell your mother what’s going on. But I also know, that you tried to do that when you were five years old, and she didn’t believe you. I hate to tell you, but she will not be someone to protect you. I’d love to tell you that she’s going to be your savior, and I know you pray for that daily, but it’s just not in the cards. She’s weak. She’s barely holding on by a string. The smoking. The drinking. She can’t take care of herself, so she won’t be able to take you.

You are on your own, and I know that’s scary, but you don’t have to be scared because you have the strongest person looking out for you… and that’s me. And I am right here/there inside your heart, just waiting for you to escape the madness that surrounds your life.

And you will escape. And I will tell you the date to give you something to look forward to… July 17, 1988. You have 4 ½ years left of this violence. I’m sorry, but it’s your reality.

I am not worried about it though, because you are one of the strongest people I have ever met. You don’t feel it right now, but it’s there. To this day, the fire, ambition, and your survival instincts still move you forward. Thankfully, that will never change. And that’s what you are, a survivor. You will survive all this and it will determine the type of man you become. A passionate, loving, and caring individual, with a killer comedic personality.

I added that last part to boost our ego, you know — it’s our birthday.

We will spend years asking ourselves, “How did I turn out so normal with these fucked up parents?” I still don’t have an answer to that question.  I still ask that question in 2017, and I expect I will ask it until we are dead.

What we do know is that Melvin was a monster. Only a monster sneaks into their son’s room and does what he does to you… to us.  I don’t need to go into details, as I am sure thinking about it makes you want to vomit. It’s been decades, and while I write this letter to you, I still get anxious and uncomfortable about what happened all those years ago.

It will get better. I am proof. I am safe. I am happy. WE are safe. WE ARE HAPPY!

You have people who love you. You have an incredible spouse who you’ve been married to for 12 years; who stands by you and supports you in everything you do. I know what you’re thinking and, NO, you don’t have kids. Be thankful.

But you found love, something you don’t believe you deserve. You can be so silly sometimes. Do you know that?

You also have amazing friends. They aren’t just amazing, they are the brothers you’ve always wanted. They will give you advice, stand by you, and love you unconditionally. They won’t be like the kids in school who call you faggot and Joebosity. They won’t be like the girl in your homeroom class who drew that whale on the blackboard and typed out JOE next to it. Funny thing is, I know you like that girl, and you’ve already forgiven her, but as you can see from this letter — you will never forget. Madonna has a song called, Words, and she sings “Words are only words, and they’re only words unless they are true.” And that’s the truth. Words are only words, and you can’t let them bring you down.

I know you are trying to figure out what song I’m talking about, but you’ll have to wait until 1992.

I told you, I know everything.

Don’t let them asshole kids (yes, kids are assholes… including you. Sorry) get to you. They are also hurting. Trust me, many kids from the 80’s will grow up and be a disaster. But you will not be. You will be amazing and great. I promise.

Here’s something that will excite you, in 2016 you’ll write and publish a book. Yes, a book. Can you believe it? I can barely believe it, either. You will be a nurse and save lives. You will become a flight attendant and travel all over the world. You know how badly you want to go to Australia, well you will… in 2013.

Listen kid, you’re life is going to be amazing. Truly incredible.

But here’s something else, something important —don’t fight those feelings you have in your heart and mind about being different. You are different, and we don’t have to put any labels on it right now. Just know, that you are different, but that’s okay. And it’s pretty awesome.

You’ll figure that out in your early 20’s.

Alright, I have to go. I have a pedicure/manicure appointment for our birthday. Keep your head up, and remember, I am right there inside you, and I am here for the ride.

Oh, and one more thing, there will come a day — in the not so distant future — when you will find yourself taking cooked breakfast sausages out of the refrigerator, rubbing them in the crack of your ass, and then putting them back in the refrigerator. You will then sit on the sofa and watch Melvin heat the breakfast sausages up and eat them.

Do NOT feel guilty. He deserves it.


Love me,