This letter is for all the teenage mums and the women who have suffered abuse. For the women who have been told they are not good enough or they will never achieve anything. There is light at the end of the tunnel, you will come out the other side. All you have to do is believe in yourselves and I truly hope that you are able to find your voice too, however that manifests itself.
This is for you as much as it is for me...
It's almost your 18th birthday and I'm sorry to tell you your Dad is about to pass away. After his long battle with illness and years of you expecting it to happen at any moment. The news will be the most shocking you've ever heard. You're going to go completely off the rails and you use his passing as an excuse for your bad behaviour for a really long time, too long.
Soon after this you get in a relationship with someone who seizes the opportunity and your vulnerability to take advantage of you. He will scar you both mentally and physically, there will be a time when you almost won't make it, your injuries are so severe. What happens that day will haunt your dreams for the rest of your life but he will not break you, so please stay strong.
Throughout these dark times you find yourself pregnant, you are only 18. This new life will help to lift some of the sadness that you've been feeling. You can't believe that there will be a little baby boy completely dependent on you and who will love you no matter what. He will need you so much it gives you purpose, he's your saviour.
Almost a year later to the day your second baby will arrive. A little girl, still as perfect now as she ever was and a delight and joy that you could never imagine possible. Being a Mother is going to make you feel the most special you have ever felt in your life.
From somewhere you will find the strength to leave your abusive relationship. Life is hard work but you are really good at being a Mummy!
It is your calling. There is no other love like it.
It hurts that there is such a stigma surrounding young mummies. You are told that you have ruined any chance you ever had of a successful career by having children so young and might as well claim benefits. Despite this you get up at 5.30am and walk the children a mile to the nursery so you can go to work. You do this rain or shine and once you've paid the childcare fees you're only ten pounds a week better off but it's worth it for your self-esteem.
It continues to amaze you how other people pass judgement and assume you are not doing a good job as a Mother. This upsets you more than anything else. You do your absolute best but you will always feel a little bit inadequate, as if you are not taken seriously enough. This perception is magnified by the time the children get to school. By means of defence you make conversation as eloquently and articulately as you are able, perhaps even to the point of curtness at times so people know that you are to be taken seriously.
Inside you have so much to prove, just because you are a young mum doesn't mean you are stupid or incapable or unintelligent. You so desperately want to validate your worth.
Sometimes you don't want to get out of bed and deal with another day or another bill that comes through your door, but you cope because you have to. There are more happy days than sad especially when you look into the eyes of your beautiful children, looking at them is a quiet reminder of the reasons you work so hard.
Any time now you're going to reunite with someone you met years ago. He will be your knight in shining armour. When he's around you won't have to feel afraid or not good enough ever again. He will hold your hand and settle you when you have those terrible night terrors. He will treat your children as if they are his children.
As the lines with the names against them on the kitchen wall mark the passing of time it will feel as if there's never been any other way.
Those years will pass by swiftly. You understand one another, finding each other hilarious. He will be your best friend your confidante the one who knows each and every one of your secrets. He calls you 'Lucky'.
You will long for a child of your own together, not that the other children aren't special to him, of course they are. He just wants to know that feeling of his own little newborn baby in his arms. Who can blame him? You will suffer many years of sadness at not being able to conceive, eight in total. There will be two losses along the way.
Just when you thought it would never happen and in your darkest hour, God will be listening to your prayers at exactly the right moment. With medical help you are given one chance, you will be blessed with a pregnancy. The two of you will share a daughter and she will bring you all so much joy and happiness. Your lives will be so full.
I know you feel sadness and despair at times and I know life isn't fair. You can't always understand why these things have happened to you. Try to remember that each and every one of us is put on this earth for a reason.
Where there is sorrow in your life there is also hope.
You are not weak, worthless, useless or ugly.
You are strong, a survivor and braver than you think.
With love, you (aged 34)