I didn't understand female friendship until I was well into my 20's. I most definitely wouldn't have described myself as a feminist. I had all male friends and brothers and would say I identified with boys better.
The sad thing is, I actively chose this.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with male friendships, but I chose to position myself in the way that I would miss out on years of strong, enduring female friendships because I thought it wasn't for me. I really never understood why the feminist movement was so important, but I didn't really take the time to understand it at all.
When my ex-husband was charged with assault in 2011, there were many online reactions that I probably shouldn't have scrolled through, but as the people-pleaser I am, I did. A 16-year-old girl had written on Twitter
"He's so hot, I'd let him punch me in the face."
That sentence rang in my ears for the next four years. What had I done? This wasn't the message I wanted to send and it sure as hell wasn't going to be my legacy.
What would young me think of what 30-year-old me had become?
I knew then why the women's movement was so important and I promised myself I would become a voice of change.
Dear little Marni,
I'm sorry to have to call you that. You'll get called that a lot because kids think it's funny.
I'm so sorry for the next years, they are going to get a bit rough.
You will make some bad choices, do some stupid things and definitely lose your way. But I want you to know you will make it through, and it all ends up okay on the other side.
You will make mistakes.
Gosh, will you. You will not have all the answers and you will often think you do. You will make silly decisions for the wrong boys and hurtful decisions for the wrong reasons.
You will lose your way. More than once.
You will travel far from home both geographically and mentally.
You'll have regrets and lay awake crying at night wishing some things were different.
But you have to let this happen. It's leading you somewhere great.
You will get hurt.
In many different ways.
You will endure physical and mental pain, so I'm sorry in advance. You will sometimes feel like it's the end, but you need to keep going. Your anxiety will win some days, but some days it won't. You'll feel like you're not good enough on many occasions.
You will cry alone on the floor of a hotel room in London as you know you're miscarrying your baby. You will cry on the way to the hospital. You will be scared, alone and lost; across the other side of the world from anyone who loves you. And you will feel like a child. I need to stress to you: this is not your fault.
This is the worst I'll ever let you feel, I promise.
You will lose friends who were never friends. You will cry over relationships that did not nourish you. You will tell people your secrets and they will leave you when it isn't interesting anymore.
You will cry until you vomit some days but then you will pick yourself up, get your shit together and keep going.
You will ALWAYS keep going.
You will hurt people.
You will be selfish sometimes. You will make bad choices that hurt other people. You will not listen like you should or be there like they want you to be.
You will end relationships poorly and let things get out of hand.
You will have many regrets.
You will leave people behind sometimes.
Good people, when you get carried away with the wrong boy or trying to be someone you're not.
You will feel every day for six years that, although trivial, the shitty things you have done in your life are the reason you aren't worth being loved.
You are enough.
You'll have times where you feel ugly, stupid, fat and useless. There will be times where you are made to feel this way. You'll be called names and told you're not good enough.
You are enough.
You are never going to be the best at everything, so don't let that stop you from being the best you can at some things. The only person you are in competition with is yourself.
Fame is not important.
I know you know this now but you will get lost for a little while.
You'll confuse likes and follows with the validation you so strongly crave in your relationship and you'll get swept up in a world you don't belong in. You'll lose Marni and you'll become Dan's wife.
You need to know you're more than just someone's plus one.
You'll come to expect gifts and invites. You'll want to walk red carpets.
But for what? You don't belong there. You are there off the fame of someone else and you have so much more than that inside of you.
You'll realise later your voice can be used for more than this and you'll attract likes and follows for the right reasons. You'll help to change people's lives, make a difference, free them. You'll be known for the change you make, not the name you took.
You are stronger than you think.
Do not sit ever sit in your place as a victim. Once you're there it is very hard to get out. Constantly push. Push yourself out and push yourself up. Hold the hands of those who need you and pull them out with you.
Become the friend you needed for others.
Do not be selfish, but you can be self-focused. You can't pull anyone else free if you're still drowning yourself. Concentrate on yourself.
Things will get hard, really hard. Just focus on the next step in front of you, and then the step after that. I promise you, you are strong enough.
You will get to a point where you and the weakest you have ever been. You will be so tormented that you'll think there's nothing left. But you will rise form this with a new strength, stronger than ever before. And you won't be beaten down again.
Sex is not love.
Do not confuse one for the other.
Females are worth the buzz.
You will be blessed with the greatest female friends and family you could ever imagine. I'm crying as I type this because you don't even know how lucky you're going to get.
They will believe you. They will trust you. They will know you are there. They'll build you up but you in turn will build them up too.
You'll be really proud of the friend you become.
The selfishness and irrationality of your younger years will be gone and you will have beautiful, lasting relationships. You will feel home.
You will pioneer for other women. Take a deep breath, pull up your big girl socks and bleed into your words for them. You have a lot to tell, and you can help them.
You will witness the greatest female movement of our time and you will become a part of it. You will go from one of the boys to one of the biggest feminists you know.
You will raise a boy who loves.
Your son will be your greatest joy. He will be sweet, compassionate and warm. He will tell you you're his favourite person in the whole world and show you respect and love.
You will know the responsibility of raising a young boy in today's world and you will equip him with all the tools he needs to be a thinking man later in life.
There will be no boys will be boys in your home
and equality will be preached from the rafters. You will be insanely proud of the man you nurture.
You will be loved, and you will love.
Like you deserve. You will never be soppy or gooey though, haha. So here's a link so I don't have to type it again: A Love Story.
You will know your strengths, and know your flaws. Own both.
You will become honest and kind; not because you want to keep people happy but because it doesn't work for you not to be.
If you don't become better, you will become bitter. So make the active choice.
Learn from every mistake, own it and push forward.
Blaming people for hurting you will not make it hurt less. You need to forgive and move on.
Telling your story will help people. Do not ever be afraid to.
You will be scared, ashamed and beaten down in the years to come. But you will come out on top of it.
People will choose not to believe you, that's okay. It's your truth to tell and their choice to listen.
Lastly, I'm so sorry that things will get rough. I should have looked after you better and remembered your worth. But there are silver linings, hunny. Archie is worth everything you're going to go through, I promise.
I remembered you several times when things got really bad. I remembered you and I went home. Thanks for saving me.