emergency hotline
June 11th, 2013

A Letter to My 16 year-old Self

Shane,

 

We need to talk.

 

I know, you’re really busy and it doesn’t seem like you have much time to spare. I understand completely, and I remember it well. I haven’t forgotten what it’s like to be you. Trust me, though. You’re going to want to hear this.

 

The things you’re doing right now are going to have much more of a lasting effect on your life than you realize. I know that the future is probably the last thing on your mind right now, but if you can stop for just a minute and consider it, you’re going to save yourself a whole lot of trouble.

 

Don’t believe me? Then let me get right to the point.

 

As I write this, you are a convicted felon. Let that sink in for a moment. No, I’m not kidding.

 

Down the road, you not only end up a convicted felon, but nearly end up dying a few times due to your lifestyle and the choices you make. You waste years on drugs and alcohol, become addicted to several substances, end up in jail twice, seriously hurt the people you love, lose a handful of jobs, burn a number of bridges with good friends, and end up drowning in debt. You come to a place where you end up hating yourself, feeling worthless, and believing that you have wasted your life. You get to a point where you look at yourself in the mirror and can’t believe that what you see is real. This is who you become. Not how you pictured things going, is it? Do I have your attention now? Good.

 

Now when I say “down the road,” I mean the one on which you’ve started spending more time recently. I know, it doesn’t look like such a big deal from where you’re at right now. I remember. I remember what it looked like at the time. It looked great, actually.  It looked interesting, fun, and reasonably safe. It seemed like harmless experimentation, or what I thought was a normal part of growing up. It certainly didn’t look like the same road I’m talking about now. But trust me, they’re one in the same. I have the map.  You don’t.

 

One thing that you don’t realize about this road is that it doesn’t stay nice and level. It gets very steep very quickly. You know how you’ve got the idea in your mind that you can stop at any time, that you can just put the brakes on and you’ll be okay? Well, here’s a secret: there’s a point, not too far down the road, where the brakes no longer work. You can push that pedal into the floor with all your might and pull on the emergency brake until it feels like it’s going to come apart in your hands, and it won’t do a thing. About that time the steering wheel stops working too. It wouldn’t matter if it did work, though, because by then you’re no longer steering anyway. At this point, you’re in a free-fall, thinking that you’d give anything to go back. But you can’t. It doesn’t work that way.

 

I know what you’re thinking right now. You’re thinking this all sounds ridiculous and overly dramatic. This sort of thing may happen to other people, but it’s not going to happen to you, right? I remember thinking that. I remember thinking that I had a strong mind, a strong body, and a strong will. I remember telling myself that no matter what came my way, I could think, work, and will my way out of it. However, there’s going to be a day when you discover that isn’t the case. Unfortunately, by the time you realize that, it’s going to be too late. And you can only put so much mileage on your brain, body, and will before they’re not quite as strong as they once were.

 

The substances you’re trying right now aren’t harmless, regardless of what you’ve led yourself to believe. They’re anything but harmless. It may seem like what you’re doing has no consequence, because you appear to be getting away with it. But trust me, the price you’re going to pay for it is beyond anything you would ever imagine.

 

I’d give nearly anything to be you again, knowing what I know now. But I can’t. Like I said, it doesn’t work that way. So it’s up to you.  Please, for your sake and the sake of those who love you, stop. Quit while you’re ahead. Ask for help and keep asking until you get the help you need. It’s not too late.

 

Sincerely,

Shane

 

 

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