Los Angeles, California
Dear (16 year old) Greg,
I know you aren’t going to believe me, but life is going to get better, and actually the darkness and grays you have been living in will pass. Young man, I so desperately want to just hold you, you are a lovely sensitive, caring young man. I know you don’t see that right now, but you ARE worth more than you know. That feeling of failure will pass, and you will in time allow people in instead of pushing everyone away.
You will make lots of mistakes about what “love” is, and what you have to offer as a person and human being of value. You will learn your Dad really is and was proud of you. He loved you too, but didn’t know how to show it. You are not going to get the love YOU want, but you will learn people do the best they can with what they know. You are going to find the love in yourself and learn to forgive yourself and others. You will forgive Dr. Lee for his reaction to your 9th dive in the Men’s 10 Meter finals. You will in time hold that Olympic Silver Medal with pride, not for many many years, but you will. You have been rough on your Mom, just a few years prior, but you will forgive yourself and she will teach you she loves you, even when you don’t love yourself. She will teach you by example unconditional love.
There is a man you met in your life that will teach you the meaning of the words respect and trust. He will be your coach, and he is a blessing to you to give you proof of love. He will stay by your side when you think no one will. Ron O’Brien will be a love you will learn transcends definition. You will also learn those confusing feelings you are having about “who you love” or fall in love with, it is your nature, to love, and it is just who you are that you love a man. It is ok, you will survive your suicide attempt and something glorious will happen, not right away, you will sulk for some time, but you will start questioning why you are here, and that God doesn’t make mistakes.
You will also learn you weren’t discarded, you were loved when your natural, biological Mom and Dad gave you up to foster care, and hoped for a better life for you. You will learn what an amazing gift they gave you. I know you can’t imagine living past 30 years but you will live well beyond that and learn you can love and be loved. Those hurts, bumps and bruises you are going to let go of, and see them as the blessings of your life, they will teach you compassion and empathy.
I can barely write this as I feel that black hole you feel as “you”. You are going to stop judging, as others have judged you, you will find you are a brilliant young man, and you will find your voice, it isn’t loud and boisterous, but honest and true. I wish I could hold you close to me, but you will be ok, and you are going to stumble and fall down quite a few times but you will get up, not right away all the times, but you will!
You will face things you could never imagine, and you will love your life! And love the people in it! I know for all that you need to learn, I need to let you go, and in this letter that is what I am doing. I write it out of love but I know I must let you go as well, set you free, free to fall, and free to make those choices, to stand again, taller than you were! I know you will find it hard, but little man I love you and I am so, so proud of you. Love, your 53 year old you!
(Greg kindly shared a bit of what might make it into his next book, “Out of the Water” with Lawrence Watts.) Copyright © 2013 by Gregory Louganis. All Rights Reserved.