A Letter to the Girl(s) I Once Was . . .

The Story Sessions community issued an invitation to speak to and for the girls we once were. And Bonnie over at Faith Barista has Lenten prompt on “Remember.” This piece seems to fit both places! My story is not particularly dramatic — no abuse to report, no major trauma in my home. In fact, I would venture to say that it’s downright boring, especially when lined up with some of these sisters, whose lives bear testimony to both horror and redemption. Still, like every human who has ever walked the planet, I knew my share of sorrow and confusion. Also? I have lived longer than almost everyone else who will contribute today, so there are LOTS of ‘girls’ to address . . .

44Look at you! Such a big girl!

And you were, too.
A very big girl.
Tall, right from the get-go,
smart and talkative and quite the walker,
or so I’m told.

You loved life!
Loved it —
all the people,
the streets and houses —
. . . and the busses.
Oh, how you loved to watch 
the bus go by.
“There-sa goes da bus!”
you’d yell and point.

I think you’ve done a lot of yelling 
and pointing in me,
little one.
You want me to see things,
to pay attention.
And I’m trying, honey!
I thank you for helping
me to keep my eyes
and my heart O P E N.

37Just barely two years old and
an interloper appeared on the scene.

And he was SO cute, wasn’t he?
He didn’t have funny feet,
or terrible skin,
or stick-straight hair
that mommy always wanted
to curl, curl, curl.

Trautwein_Scans_2_054But you kinda liked him anyhow,
even though you did fight now and again.

Only trouble was, his derring-do
made you want to be ‘the good girl,’
and you’ve spent an awful lot of years
playing that role, haven’t you?

Maybe it’s time to let that one go?

29Your dad’s mama lived in downtown Los Angeles,
in a sweet little bungalow.

And oh, how she loved you!
But she was so old,
and she told stories

about the south, about her home,
in Arkansas.

And sometimes the way she talked
made you feel funny.
Especially the way she talked
about people of color,
even though you’d never
heard that phrase in your young life.

27Your mom and dad loved each other a lot,
didn’t they?
And sometimes, you felt like an outsider
around them.

Most of the time, their love
made you feel safe and sure.
But once in a while,
they shut you out,
and that was confusing.

19Oh, I see that dreamy look in your eyes!
And I salute it. Dream on, girl!

Live inside your head all you want to,
curl up in the corner and read, read, read.
Don’t worry if you don’t want to socialize,
no matter how your mom fusses at you.

And pay attention in 5th grade,
when Mr. Naismith tells you you’re a writer.
Believe him. Believe it.

Trautwein_Scans_2_022

High school was kinda crazy, right?
Thank God for the church group,
because at school?
You were the resident nerd.
Choir helped, though.
You met so many different
kinds of kids, most of them
so.much.fun!
It was great to break out of the
molds that held you —
the brainiac and the church girl.

Yeah, singing was a good thing. 

Trautwein_Scans_2_018

And then came college.
And the task at hand?

Meet a good, Christian man
and get married!
And you did that,
right on schedule.

Aren’t you glad you found a good one?
Even when he makes you crazy,
he’s such a good man.
You SCORED. 

Trautwein_Scans_2_030

That talkative toddler,
and that displaced sister and daughter,
and that dreamy 10-year-old,
and that nerdy high schooler,
well they all showed up
on that December afternoon
when you tied the knot. 

And despite the baggage you
brought from a conservative,
complementarian home,
together you found a new way
to be a couple,
to share the journey 
as partners.

Trautwein_Scans_2_000

Of course, it took a few decades to do that.
And along the way,
you traveled halfway around the world,
you found yourself pregnant (!!),
you taught school,
and you lived on a boarding school campus
in a brand-new African nation.

The bike came in handy, didn’t it?
It helped you cement the independence
you were finding in those early
married years.

It gave the 10-year-old just a little
bit of breathing space,
and the toddler a chance to
see new things.

Trautwein_Scans_2_019And when that beautiful girl was born?
Well, a whole new chapter opened up.
You had just turned 23,
and in the next four years,
you’d have two more babies,
and all those “girls” in there,
the toddler and the 10-year-old,
the one who played with baby dolls,
and the one who read through
the traveling library truck;
the one who was too tall,
and too awkward,
and too loud,
and too bossy,
and too. . .
well, they got a bit lost for
a while.

But today, you bless them all.
You call them out and say,
“Thank you!”
Because every age,
every stage,
every experience,
every relationship —
they are all part of who you are
right now.

And who you are right now?
Despite the infirmities of age
and injury,
well. . . you’re not half bad, you know?

Two years ago, I wrote a similar post, under the flag of my African Journey page. Here’s a link to that one.

Joining with Bonnie – click on over and read the rest.

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Comments

  1. You. Are. My. Favorite.
    I broke into a wide grin when I got to “YOU SCORED” 😀 That’s how I feel about my husband.
    Oh my goodness what a roller coaster of emotions you took me on. I just want to stretch my arms through the screen and give you a big hug and tell you never ever to doubt yourself or your words because you SHINE! Thank you so much for sharing this, Diana.

    • Aw, Jamie! You are too kind. I posted this thing last night and then shut down the computer, so I’m getting up today these kind words. Thank you!

  2. This is such an intimate, loving letter to yourselves. Thank you for this example. The girls you once were are lucky to have you now.

  3. I enjoyed this post so much. I suppose my favorite things to read, favorite conversations to have, is to get to know someone’s story. And look at beautiful you through every stage of life!

  4. I love all these girls so much and the joy you radiate!

  5. I love the way you wrote this, speaking so lovingly and admiringly to the beautiful girls you once were. And like Jamie I grinned a big grin reading ‘YOU SCORED’. I know the feeling, even 28 years on, I still get that. This was lovely to read and it feels like a real privilege having you share it with us. Thank you.

  6. You are right, you are not ‘Half bad’! And you may have just a few years on me, but when I saw that Christmas card, I just sat here and grinned like the kid I was when my parents put my picture on one very similar to that. What a beautiful way to start my Saturday, reading this.

    • Isn’t that Christmas card just the best? I love that photo cards have been around nearly 70 years – amazing! Thanks so much for reading and for letting me know that you did.

  7. I’m glad to me another life story writer, and your story is beautiful! I really enjoyed seeing the photos – it helped to take me back to those eras and to imagine, along with you, what happened at each stage of your life! Very well done – I enjoyed this!

  8. I so enjoyed the photos, and thank you for sharing that it took a couple decades to figure things out with your man. I needed that. I feel like Jim and I have all the passion in the world, and we’ve come a long way in terms of figuring one another out (and giving one another space to breathe), but we have work yet to do. I will say it’s challenging to make progress when the demands upon us are so many. Oh, and I wanted to ask you: have you ever read Sandra Cisneros’ “Eleven?” (If not, you should; you’ll appreciate it so much.)

  9. oh beloved, do not discount your story. it is beautiful and laced with hurt and power. there is something rich here, something so breathtakingly redemptive.

    you are LOVED.

  10. OH. this is so FUN! Thank you for sharing your story & your photos with us. I love it.

  11. Gwen Acres says:

    To me, your beautiful story is healthy from beginning to end. Your smart and wise self took life’s challenges and made them good. I am not saying it was easy, but you were an overcomer. And now your wisdom is a book to encourage others. Thank you Diana for making it a gift to my spirit.

  12. I haven’t read anyone else’s posts, so I don’t know what other people did, but I like that you honor the person you were at different ages/stages. Each one is valid, and you seem to get that.

  13. Oh I loved reading this!!!beautiful pictures. And beautiful words 🙂 🙂

  14. It’s beautiful the way you addressed each stage of your life. No regrets, but claiming who you were and who you are now, and the many paths that you took. I am inspired.

  15. I am smiling big. This was truly magical. Thankyou for your holy words. This was just inspiring.
    I love that you spoke to all your girls. I loved the photos! Oh, really, this makes me want to sit and drink tea with you. I was a good girl too for a very long time. I’m thinking we’d share some fun stories together!

  16. Oh I’m so glad you wrote this and I was able to read it. I really enjoyed it so much. It made me smile. Thank you!

  17. Adela Just says:

    Diana, I love this so much! SOOOO much. Please don’t ever feel your story is not enough. It is powerful. It is beautiful. You inspire me and fill me with so much hope that I will look back at all the phases of my life with so much grace. Thank you for sharing and for recognizing that every season forms who we are.

    • Thank you so much for these kind words, Adela. Getting further away from the rough years does help to add perspective, which is usually a good thing. :>)

  18. YES to the hope. it’s beautiful to be able to see with clarity these little pieces of you, see how they are part of you. you have inspired me to write through some of those “self”s. thank you for your words, lovely.

  19. melinda says:

    This was so incredibly wonderful! What a beautiful journey you took me on, so very grateful for these glimpses….you are rich with wisdom. Thank you for sharing this!

  20. “Not half-bad”—no mam! I think better said “Whole-good.” Loved this Diana. Lived hearing the talk you described from your grandmother…didn’t know it was bad for way, way, too long….I didn’t have a context and really was perplexed. I think it’s changed around here and it hasn’t—still perplexing. That makes me sad. I not much for tagging on labels…any kind…but I love how you embraced the label writer. Keep doing it always and keeping telling your beautiful story…

  21. Diana, I simply LOVED this and loved seeing all the ‘girls’ you once were wrapped up in the smart, wise, compassionate and clever woman you are now. I get a feeling I’d have loved to have known and befriended you at any stage mentioned here. Such an encouraging read and awesome photos! Bless you for speaking to the girl inside of me too. Our histories and experiences may be poles apart, but not our hearts. 🙂 x

  22. Thank you for the delightful, guided tour of your life. ‘Loved watching you grow up through the pictures. Your story is so similar to my own–conservative, Christian upbringing with loving parents and a cute little brother, much reading and singing through the years, time spent on the mission field (South America for me), married to a great guy, three children, a life-time of learning, growing, persevering–and rejoicing, because through it all God has been so good!

    All those similarities come into play as I read your posts and you minister to me every time. You speak out of your heart and experience–right into my own!

  23. thank you
    thank you for taking us along for the ride
    what a delight to see you grow, then
    watch you growing still, now!

  24. What a delightful letter and such memorable photos, Diana. Thanks for sharing this. 🙂

    “Because every age,
    every stage,
    every experience,
    every relationship –
    they are all part of who you are
    right now.”
    Love this wise and profound statement.

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