Dear Lil Petey,
You are a light. Never forget it. Even at five years old right now, your soul and intelligence are vastly older than those your age. Your smile is infectious, your energy albeit legit off the charts at times, is joyful. You love attention but also love to help your friends find the spotlight. You’re bashful, but also never stop talking. You have a penchant for fibbing, but only to entertain yourself cause you’re too smart for your own good in many ways. More than anything, you are happy. You are pure, but you are genuinely, happy.
Try your hardest to remember those feelings of being that happy. Try your hardest to hold onto the belief and knowledge that you are a light in this world. Many, many, many people are going to try and make you think otherwise.
They will tell you that book is too hard for you and not to read it. Teachers are going to change your grade transcripts to keep you from getting into great schools. Casting directors are going to blacklist you, for not being black enough, or for being black. You are going to constantly be told by kids but mostly by adults, that you are not good enough and that you are not special.
What’s going to be hard to realize is that adults are basically just still kids who have just happened to gotten older. They’re not always going to look out for you, and you are going to have to learn to use your intuition, and learn the hard way, that not everyone has your best interest in mind, solely based on things you can not change about yourself.
Pretty soon, something is going to happen to you that is going to affect you for the rest of your life. And it’s going to happen a lot, throughout a good amount of your life. You’re going to be really, really scared and you’re going to want to disappear from this world, but I just want to remind you and promise you that you’re stronger than you think. And I want to remind you and promise you that it’s not and never will be your fault, anytime it happens, by anyone. Some people are just bad people, and they don’t let children be children. You won’t understand it then, and you will never understand it, but that’s ok, because you’re not meant to. It is wrong.
It is NOT about an energy you give off as a CHILD.
It is NOT because you’re more effeminate than other boys.
It is NOT because you are too friendly or too trusting.
It is NOT because you act mature for your age.
It. Is. NOT. Your. Fault.
It is simply because, they are wrong and you are a victim. But as well as being a victim, you are a survivor and a warrior, and you will learn to face your traumas later in life. It’s just going to be a very hard, very vicious, battle to that point.
There is nothing more important for me to remind you than that you are special. So many people are going to take things from you, but never give them your light. The world can’t afford to have you harden. It needs more beings like you. Stay a kid as long as you possibly can. Hold onto that joy, take all the naps and continue to have the largest dreams in this world.
Oh and listen to your mother more. She’s the only person on this earth that has nothing but the purest and best interests in mind for you, and you stress her out sometimes, little boy!
Also, I promise you’ll get over your fear of The California Raisins. However, your fear of the dark isn’t going anywhere! Sorry!
Happy Birthday, Lil guy. Stay smiling. Xx
Dear 2020 Peter,
WELL, you’ve survived another year?! I know, I’m shocked too. 2019 was a roughhhhhhhhh one, and 2020 has been off to a questionable start.
You spent your birthday being told by doctors that you had to cancel your birthday show for vocal hemorrhaging, and you got your heart temporarily shattered, yet again. Girl, if your heart was a cat, she must have like 18 lives by now!
Good ole unnecessary timelines are coming back to haunt you, even though I straight up tell your ass time and time again, to stop with the timelines. Everyone’s journey is different, stop comparing or trying to match others, it’s just not healthy.
Life is about to get insanely busy for you so I need you to chill out a bit, before jumping into your bigger driver’s seat soon. Rest, say “No” more, rest, meditate, REST, and please go on your first vacation in three fucking years you fucking lunatic. PLEASE.
I appreciate that you know you still have a lot of things to work on. Working through trauma is so insanely multilayered, that it continually feels like it’s getting worse before it gets better. It’s like the stages of grief, except usually with less support. You have a couple rocks in your life. Hold onto them, cause you guys are being wonderfully supportive and truly helpful to one another in your healing.
Get your health and your body right again. You know you miss it, and your metabolism ain’t what it used to be, girl. Nourish your soul, nourish your mind, and always aspire to be the greatest you, you can be.
Keep giving great hugs, but also keep working on your hatred of being touched. You know this stems from fear, which stems from childhood trauma, and you just have to keep putting yourself in that mindset to continue to grow and let go. Learn to give longer hugs, like Baebro hugs, without tightening up and falling into “Peter contact” as Josh calls it. You love to love, fucking do it!!!
Now I don’t want to beat you down right after your special day, however, you are in your 30’s and you need to be able to handle some rough love. And not the kind you’re into!!! *rolls eyes* Cut. The. Toxic. Out. It’s so easy for you to do with family and with friends, yet for some reason, your psychopathic romantic side can’t do it with men. QUIT IT! It’s not romantic, it’s dumb AF, and you are far better than that.
On the flip side, I strongly remind you not to close off your heart and always remain open and giving of love. You’ve had some defeatist feelings, but the feeling should never venture to, I am not loveable.
You are more than loveable. You ARE love.
Be proud of the human being you have shaped up and are continuing to shape up to be. So many people do not put the work in, and you are working on yourself in a world that is still full of systematic racial oppression, and so much toxic masculinity. Keep walking forward, even when you sometimes fall backwards.
I just tried to get you to say that you love yourself, and you couldn’t. *SIGH* That’s a problem, Peter. We’re going to keep working on that. You’re good people. Xx
To my mom,
And now today is officially YOUR special day. Happy Birthday! I’m not sure this is something you’ll ever get to read, but it felt right to write one to you, as, it’s now your day, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting and self-work, and you are without a doubt, the most important human being on earth to me.
Firstly, I just want to thank you. There are simply not enough words in not enough languages to ever express my gratitude to you as a person, and how lucky I am to have you as a mother.
From me never knowing as a little kid that I didn’t have as much as all the rich kids in my private school, because you worked so hard to make sure that every birthday, every Christmas, every day, honestly, mattered. Being a scholarship kid my entire academic life, I still never felt as if I was ever, without.
From you playing the role of both mother and father in a way that I was lucky enough to know that superheroes were real and that I lived with one and that I could aspire to be one. It was truly an anything is possible dynamic, that really is just so exciting and necessary to see as a child growing up.
All of my favorite things about myself, are qualities that I would immediately list about you, so I know that there is no other place it could have been instilled from.
Compassion. Intelligence. Self-respect. Speaking up for oneself and for others. Resilience. Humor.
Secondly, I would like to apologize. As all children can be, I know I’ve been a bit of a struggle at times, even as an adult. I’m still a work in progress, and I’m still very much working on the things I know I need to.
I’m most sorry that I am not always the best at keeping in touch. For someone who was such an extravert most of childhood, it’s turned out that I’m actually quite an introvert and quite a lone wolf. Sometimes that translates to being cold, and sometimes that translates to me unintentionally distancing myself from people. It’s never from a bad place, it’s just from a combination of exhaustion, being an introvert and dealing with traumas and ideas that I’ve come to realize made me feel undeserving of good people caring about me.
Thank you for always making sure that I was living the best life you could offer. Sometimes life has ways of slipping other events in, to even the most protected and most loved children. Unfortunately, I dealt with a great deal of that, and it definitely changed that little boy in many ways that he did not deserve. It turned into depression, anxiety, and a lot of underlying anger that since I didn’t want to direct at you, it just turned into silence.
We’ve never talked about any of that, and we may never but I do want to make it clear that I know it was neither your fault or mine. But from casting directors, to childhood friends, to your close friend and my godfather, many people did what you always spoke so strongly against: they didn’t let a child be a child.
I feel like you deserve to know that, but at the same time, I don’t have the courage to share that with you, cause I just worry that you will think there is something you could have done. There is not. You did everything. You have always done EVERYTHING.
I’m working on healing, and I am lucky enough to have some people who are doing the same. Side by side we are Taco Therapying if you will. And we are making strides, and doing the work. Every day I am working to aspire to the greatness that you always saw in me and to this day continue to remind me of. Thank you for that. It means more than you’ll ever, ever know.
I wish you the very happiest of birthdays. I hope your special day is a perfect one, and I hope your health is having a good day today as I know it hasn’t been lately. I will talk to you later today, but probably not in this capacity. And for now, that’s alright.
Happy Birthday. Xx
All my love,
Peter William Dunn is a born and raised New Yorkers, who is currently a freelance writer, producer, director and sometimes actor in the city.
His professional passions include: film, music, literature, helping other artists thrive and all-around storytelling
His personal passions include: puppies, babies, black and white milkshakes, and attractive men with accents (he has an extra strong track record for attracting emotionally unavailable men, but don’t tell him we told you that, and don’t yell at him for speaking in third person right now).
His current loves are his dog, Domino, a whiskey neat, and in case you didn’t know, his mother is the greatest human being on earth ❤