Dear Self of Years Past,
People who are lost often don't know they are lost. This is the worst kind of lost to be. You don't even know you've gone off the path, let alone how far off into the woods you've stumbled. The thing is, Self, you've been lost before. You've struggled to find a clear path to a decent future. You've had your heart broken and you've let bills go unpaid. You've drank too much, slept with the wrong people and made unfortunate fashion choices. But even amidst all that, you still knew who you were and retained the Essence of You.
But now you've arrived at the point where the Light of You has extinguished. You're so consumed with trying to make this relationship work that you've completely forgotten who you are. You're still the plucky kid you were all along. You're the child of an alcoholic who refused to go unloved. You sought out neighbors, teachers, friends, friends' parents and therapists. You never stopped seeking shelter and love. You didn't stand in the rain.
Today, you're drowning. You stand behind Him at parties. You're the quiet girlfriend in the corner. You're meek. You're mild. And you're terrified it isn't going to work. You think he lifted up the earth and hung it among the stars. What you don't know is that he's all bully and bluster. You're ten times more interesting and 100-fold smarter. Only everybody knows it but you.
Yesterday you had an old friend over and the two of you sat chatting on the couch. He walked through the room and said something you barely registered as he went out the front door and closed it behind him. You kept talking to your friend until she stopped you.
"I don't know what shocks me more. The fact that he talks to you that way … or the fact that you allow it."
I know it hurt to hear that. But Self, listen to her. She's not being mean. The people who love you the most are trying to tell you. You need to listen.
"I don't even know you any more," your mom said on the phone the other day.
The comment still rings in your ears and makes your heart beat faster with a rabbit panic. You think they're wrong. You think you can fix it and make everything work. Once everything is fixed it will all be perfect and then they'll see. You can fix anything. You're determined. You're special. You're hardworking and hell-bent. It has to work. Just this once it has to work. You want the fairytale ending and you're willing to destroy yourself to get it.
Here's the truth. Trying to make it work is only working to destroy you. And if you don't get out soon, you might lose yourself forever. If you leave, it's going to hurt. You'll burst into tears at a red light and the car behind you will honk while you sob into the steering wheel. It'll hurt so much you'll be quite convinced that it will break you. It will hurt so much your skin will prickle and your stomach will fold itself into such a tight little knot that you'd rather starve than go without love.
But you'll eat. You'll start to drink from the cup of life once more and then you'll take big greedy gulps until you make yourself sick. But you'll get past that too. And then you'll start to be yourself again. Your skin will fit the way it used to and the ground will meet your feet as you walk. You'll smile and pay bills. Friends will call. You'll get a new job and redecorate. You'll buy new shoes and go out on dates.
In fact, you'll not only get back to the girl you once were, you'll become the woman you always wanted to be. You'll be better. You'll come out the other side and your heart will be even bigger than it was before. Your life will expand. You'll reach out. You'll listen. People will call you and heed your advice. You'll find it in your heart to forgive. You'll just keep expanding until you're bigger than the world you knew.
Now start packing. It's time to start living again.
Self of Years Present
This is a response to a writing prompt hosted by the indomitable Brittany, Herself. To participate in the August Writing Prompts, click here.