Session 19 – Ted Carr Letter to My Younger Self

Recap & Highlights

Here is the full text of my letter.

Dear Teddie,

I see that you are feeling alone, sad, different – just staring out the window at a small sliver of winter sky. You are not really enjoying high school. You’re not participating in anything (except the soccer team in your senior year. At least you seem to enjoy that).

I know that you feel this way because you are ashamed. You live in a chaotic world of your father’s alcoholic madness. You are simply trying to survive and to protect your mother and sisters. You know that you are different – that you’ve been rejected. You believe that your fate dooms you to a life of unhappiness.

But I see something inside of you that you don’t – a will to fight back – to be better than those who torment you. And you will fight back and you will earn your self-respect, success and happiness. But it won’t happen overnight. It will take the journey of a lifetime.

When you leave home, move to Houston and get your first real job, you will revel in the physical separation from your house of torment. And you will discover that people like you – including young women! It will be a lot to take in and you will devour it to excess. But all the while, your troubled past, flows through you like an underground river, never far from the surface, and still filling your soul.

You will learn that you cannot become someone new, and more importantly better, just by indulging – even if you are making up for lost time. You are not wired for relationships or career. It is all lost on you. Unfortunately you will realize and regret some of the opportunities that were there for the taking but beyond your comprehension.

But even though you will get knocked down again and again, something gets you back on your feet. Even more important something drives you to be better.

You will make a life changing decision, a risk taken in fact, to return to college to get a higher degree in an entirely new field. It is perhaps your first real well thought out decision. And this risk will pay off – huge! You will be hired to work for IBM in Tucson AZ.  You never could have imagined that back when you were staring despondently out that window in high school.

But you still have not yet crossed that river that runs through you that pulls you along. That won’t allow you to fully emerge. You will make more mistakes and still have no understanding of, or desire for, a long term healthy relationship. But you will get lucky. But you’re lucky in part because you are willing to take a chance, to roll the dice.

You will move to California to a place called the Bay Area which you honestly have never heard of and not 100% sure where it is. But you move there because it is supposed to have a lot of work available.

What you find when you get there is that you’ve landed in the early days of Silicon Valley.  You embark on a career in high tech that will take you through almost 30 years of your adult life. You will experience incredible highs and incredible lows. But you are resilient. You will emerge stronger and better with each successive incarnation.

You will feel that you have made it somehow in a place and in a career that was beyond your comprehension. Yet you will feel unfulfilled. You will feel insecure and incomplete. You want to be a happy and successful as your peers and what separates them from you is that they have a significant other – a relationship. So you will dig deep, put aside your feelings of embarrassment and ignorance, and get ready to get serious.

You will be lost at first but you are determined. You realize that you have to love yourself in order to be loved.  And you will succeed because you are prepared, and with a little luck, opportunity will present itself.

You’ll make a seemingly minor decision that breaks with the past and ends up changing your life, again. This decision will to a chance encounter with your true love who you will marry and be married to for as long as you live.

But you are not yet done. To be truly happy you need to love and accept yourself. In order to do so you have to finally confront a past that still has a hold on you. Knowing what a stake is, what can be gained or lost, you will dive head first into that river and confront your demons. When you surface, you find yourself on a life raft that is built upon forgiveness – forgiveness of your father and of yourself. You will make it to the other side. From there you will be able to gaze into the mirror of your future self, yes, you’ll be shocked at how you’ve aged, but you will be satisfied to observe that you have emerged happy, that you like yourself and that it was because of the journey that you have prospered.

All the best,

Ted