Dear Little Matt

Dear Little Matt,

Hi from the future! It's me, the former you. I love that you can read and comprehend at a very high level already. That's really, really cool. Special. I know you can't tie your own shoes yet, and that's the thing everybody wants to talk to you about and scold you for. But it doesn't matter; you'll learn how to tie your own shoes soon enough. The important thing is that you have the ability to read this.

I'm writing this to let you know that no matter what, you are amazing. You are worthy of love. All your crazy ideas, thought patterns and tendencies remain. In fact, they are critical to your wellbeing and survival. You carry some important, magical gifts inside you. Your job is to protect them, even when your possession of them puts you in danger.

You are just a little boy, so I hate that I have to tell you what I'm about to tell you. You shouldn't have to be concerned with this kind of thing at your age. I'm so, so sorry.

I'll begin with the positive stuff.

Little man, let me tell you the good news:

You made it at least to the end of the year 2020, which is probably the craziest year you will ever experience. Not gonna spoil it for you; just wait. At 44, you are basically living your dream life – you don't have a boss or any dumb authority figures telling you what to do. Your days are filled with music, art and the love of your ideal partner. You and your sweetie, Annie, have a little kitty named Mantequilla (it's Spanish for "butter") that you love unconditionally. You went on a ten-mile hike today along the banks of the Rio Grande river. What?

That's right – you're living somewhere else now. The traditional homelands of the Pueblo of Sandia. Albuquerque, New Mexico. You like to move your body and hang out among the trees and forest creatures. You experience these hikes in an almost religious manner. You feel connected to the planet. This place has healed you and given you new life.

When you got back home today, Mantequilla greeted you like she was afraid she would never see you again. You feel it in your heart. Earlier, you spent time sharing, connecting and dreaming big with Annie.

I know you already have an affinity for esoteric, psychedelic, occult, spiritual, magical stuff. That's going to be a big thing in your life. Hold on to that. These days, you are a pretty experienced and adventurous psychedelic explorer. You haven't seen a ton of the physical world yet, but you've been to lots and lots of interesting places. You have an instinct about your existence in a past life. I can tell you there's definitely something to that instinct.

You're about to find an old guitar in the basement. That guitar is going to be hanging on the wall next to you as you write this. Matthew, you have THE MUSIC in you. It's going to be scary and difficult to understand, but it's going to be the thing that takes you to all the places and connects you with all the people. It doesn't make sense how connected to the music you are. I know you are already thinking in musical terms and organizing your perception of the world into musical rhythms to keep track of them. This process has helped you develop an unbelievably accurate and often burdensome memory.

Anyway, THE MUSIC lives inside you. It will always show you where to go and who to be with. You can trust it. You feel it in your body. It feels like something from another place and time; an artifact. But there it is. It's going to be frustrating for a while because you're not going to know how to let it out. People are going to tell you to settle down and be quiet a lot. It's okay. These days, you and THE MUSIC are completely intertwined. You are the same being.

Eventually, you will learn how to tune that old nylon string guitar. When you are about 13, you're going to get an electric guitar and amplifier from your dad and you're going to start taking lessons. At this point, there is really no turning back. You are basically married to the guitar. It is your instrument. It feels like home.

So it's really important for you to know that life gets good. Like, really, really good! You made it! You became the person who is writing this to you today! I am so, so proud of you, little buddy. Yes, you were given tremendous gifts. But the road ahead is a grueling one.

Sweet small Matthew, here is the bad news:

Goddammit, I am so, so sorry. I am crying my eyes out right now thinking of you and everything you are going to endure over the next 35+ years to get to this place. It should not have happened the way it did. Jesus, I am so sorry, little guy. You're just a sweet little weird boy that people in rural, agricultural central Wisconsin are unable to understand. I'm sorry they don't know what to do with you or how to handle you. I'm sorry it seems like none of the adults in your life ever listen to you.

I'm not sure if it's happened yet, but while you are still little, older family members and other big kids will hold you down and violate your body until you pee all over yourself. It's going to happen several times. No one is going to come to your rescue. No one is going to hold those people accountable for torturing and abusing you. In fact, you are going to be the one who gets in trouble, while the people who thought it was cool to tickle you to the point of incontinence and the loss of consciousness go about their lives. Until they do it again. And again. You won't consider it abuse, yourself, until much later in life. You see, it's going to affect you for the rest of your days. I am still dealing with it today; it's why I'm writing to you. And it is definitely abuse. Tickle torture. The word torture is the key word. You are about to be tortured by people who say they love you. And you are just a little boy.

You're going to develop a bedwetting habit. You're going to pee your pants in school several times. It's going to fuck with you in painful and embarrassing ways. You are going to feel so much shame and I'm devastated knowing that people are about to do that to you. You are just a little boy!

You will have extraordinary difficulties with regard to physical intimacy in adulthood. People are going to be scared off by you and your extreme sensitivity. You are going to develop this dumb thing where you start laughing inappropriately and uncontrollably at the worst possible moments (yes like in the Joker movie, which I really can't recommend, but I know you're going to watch it in a few decades). That's going to fuck up a lot of relationships, too.

As it turns out, being pinned down and violated to the point of incontinence is the type of thing that will stick with you and manifest in a lot of unfortunate ways in your future. I am so, so sorry. This shouldn't happen to you. But I promise you will be okay after a while, okay? I promise.

Fuck! I imagine someone fucking with Mantequilla and I am filled with rage. I believe I would hurt that person badly. So, why won't anyone get in trouble for assaulting you? You are just a little boy. You are just a little boy. I'm so sorry. It doesn't make any sense. It doesn't make any more sense today, little guy.

You are going to feel guilty and ashamed. Humiliated. Afraid to speak up about things or advocate for yourself in any way. You will be conditioned to shut the fuck up and stop complaining. You will be told that they are good kids and that they didn't mean you any harm and it's just fun and you were laughing the whole time so you have no right to complain. You will internalize all of this and it's going to shape your entire life.

You will grow up thinking conditional love is unconditional love. I'm so sorry, Matt, but you really won't get to feel actual unconditional love until much later in life. You won't find it until well after you begin believing it's not real.

People are going to tell you, over and over again, that you are "too sensitive." Your very being is going to cause other people to feel uncomfortable, and they will deal with their discomfort by being terribly mean and abusive to you. I am so sorry. You are just a little boy.

The people who assault you (and those who will stand by without saying anything or defending you) will go on to live their own lives with their own struggles. They will never make the connection between their abuse of you and the troubles in life you are about to experience. They will project all sorts of things onto you. Your unworthiness will be reinforced repeatedly by people who tell you they love you. They will voice their disappointment in you repeatedly without acknowledging their massive contributions to your trauma.

You're going to be abused physically by your primary caregivers, too. Spanking. Whipping. Yes, you will literally be whipped with a belt. And you are just a little boy. Jesus. They had it done to them. They don't know any better. It doesn't make it right. I'm so sorry. I can't believe people think it's okay to do that to another person. You are just a little boy. But you don't quite understand how to be and you can't quite control yourself yet. So you live in tremendous fear, anxiety and terror. People violate you repeatedly, physically and emotionally, and it seems like no one cares; like it's normal. It is not normal; it is not right. You did nothing wrong. I'm so, so sorry.

You are so, so sensitive. In every way. And I'm so, so sorry they don't know how to deal with you. You poor little guy.

Your adult life is going to be characterized by continuous embarrassment, shame, guilt, financial troubles and general hardship. You are going to become estranged from your family. You will be evicted from your apartment. You will have your car repossessed and your life torn apart. But you will be afraid to ask for help. Whenever you feel like life can't get any worse, it will get worse.

You're going to believe you deserve your hardships. This belief is often reinforced by people who tell you they love you. No one is going to acknowledge your struggles or their own roles in making your life what it is. No one is going to acknowledge that you were abused and belittled as a boy. God, I'm so sorry. You do not deserve this. You are just a little boy.

Little Matty, you are not too sensitive. You are perfectly sensitive. It is the best thing about you. People are going to fuck with you about it and goddammit, it's going to hurt, but trust me: you're going to get through it and arrive at a place where you appreciate your sensitivity. And the people around you will appreciate it, too.

Here's what you need to do, little man:

Believe in THE MUSIC. It's your thing. People are going to tell you that it should just be a hobby. You're going to start believing that, too. But pay attention to the people who register your musical specialness without trying to co opt it for themselves. They are around and they will help you.

What I have learned is that the more I focus my life on THE MUSIC, the better it gets (both the music and the life). You will learn that, too. I promise. There are times when it will all feel worth it, even. All the abuse and violations and belittling. The years wasted on meeting the needs of emotional vampires. No, it's actually not worth it. But here I am. And here you will be.

There's stuff in you that you feel so, so deeply. What you feel is the truth of the universe. Trust it. Others won't understand. You have wisdom and insight that is unique to you. You're going to have a lot of people telling you you're wrong about things. And then later, you're going to realize you were right. That's going to happen a LOT. Don't get caught up in defending yourself; just be. You know what's true, even if you don't quite believe it.

One day in your late 30s you're going to feel like giving up for good. Instead, you're going to experience a spectacular spiritual awakening. It's going to save your life. It's going to put you back on the path. It's going to melt away the bullshit that prevents you from living your truth. You will begin to reckon with your past and you will realize that you did nothing wrong. There is nothing wrong with you. You deserve love. You deserve to have the abuse acknowledged. You deserve to have your resurrection acknowledged and celebrated.

Sweet little Matt, I am so sorry about what you're going to go through. People are going to do horrible things to you. They are going to violate you and use your body for their amusement. The same sort of abuse is going to happen again and again. In different ways by different people. But it's all the same.

Eventually, though, you will find your people. You will find your real family. You will reckon with your struggles and the people who contributed to them. You will heal. And you will find yourself one day in your mid 40s living something like your perfect life. And it's only going to get better from there. I promise. I am sorry. I love you.

If you remember nothing else, keep this in mind: THE MUSIC is your guide and protector. It will never leave you. It is powerful. It belongs to you. It is you. It's where you come from and it's where you'll go when you die. It is the means through which your amazing spirit enters the realm of consciousness. People will hurt you. The music never will. It will only heal you.

I love you so much, little Matt. You are going to do amazing things. I believe in you. I'm not going to let you down. You're going to make it.

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