"All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on."
I had to write you again, because I needed to tell you one more time how important you and your letters have been to me. I hope my letters are as welcome to you as yours were to me. I know I can never be as profound to you, and that our lives and stories are very different, but you are still my friend that can sit in the silence with me and just: know.. I need you to know how special you are, and especially today, I need someone who will understand the depths of defeat and triumph that can assault you when you're least prepared.
I found a journal that I kept when I was 14, and I read it. I remembered a dark that had been consuming me for a long time before I read your letters and you helped make everything right again.
I am dying inside thinking of that girl who was me, such a short time ago.
I wanted to die. That makes me so upset. I really wanted it. I wanted everything to end. The only thing that I felt like I had to live for was this boy- something that turned out to be superficial in the end. I did truly love him- because he was something that symbolized the caring and need that I should have felt from the rest of my family. Quite literally the only reason I cared so much for that boy was that I needed to believe in him to feel like I could believe in me. Me was all I had. It's stereotypical, isn't it? A young girl who put too much stock in someone else... How I wish I could have had friends like Sam and Patrick, and you.
I just wish that I could go back in time. I would do anything to go back in time and just hold the younger version of me and reassure her. Tell her that everything will turn out right- that I will fall into a much better love, that I will learn what it is to give, and to humbly receive. I wish I could tell that poor girl that there is something to live for, and that the horribly misguided little boy who just wanted sex was not going to come through for her. Tell her that she was right to love him, completely right to give her love to a boy who was so much in need, but not to put stock in his love for her saving her from anything. I wish I could tell the girl, the girl who is so violent and angry in her monologues, that there is no need for that. That things could be so different, that some day she will be able to escape from the oppression of silence and move into a world where she can make anything, do anything, be anything.
Every loop in the handwriting makes me remember the screams in my heart. Every single tear that smeared the ink on the pages makes me want to break through time and space just to show her that, though the future me is not nearly as she expected I would be, I am here. I am very much alive. I am happy. I am in love- and that means she made it. She weathered through. The beatings, the horrible things that were said and done, the things that were taken from her and forced on her against her will, the cuts, the anger and violence in her heart, have all evaporate. I wish I could assure her that it has not scarred too deeply; that I am not still suffering, and have not, for a very long time. I want to show her that I exist and am very alive and did not die as I so wanted to.
What would I say to that girl if I could go back to those angry, lonely days, and console her? Would she want to live, seeing who I've become? I'm not sure, something that saddens me completely, but I think she would see that I am happy most days, (the sick sad, the still and silent… they come less and less.) I think she would hold on.
I think I would tell her that the things she craves from mom and dad are never going to be. She wants a love from them that they cannot give. The love that she is aching for and seeking so badly is the love that a healthy person feels toward herself. There is a big aching hole, where her heart should be rooting for itself, where her optimism and power to break through the bad and seek the good should be, and in its place is something broken, something whose mechanisms have been destroyed, and because it can see no way out the only thing it wants to do is self-destruct to end the pain.
The worst part is, I'm not sure how much comfort I could be to her. I can tell her that for the next four years she will be like a machine. She will not come to know passion as she had longed and hoped for. She will learn to love a more steady, strong kind of reliability. The passion she expected is only an illusion. She will have times that will come and go and she will remember nothing more than the aching of her feet and back once the day is done. She will be so tired that months, even years will pass without any reflection of time, but there will be a new, tiny thing in her heart called Hope. She will have no where to go, there will be times when the only thing standing between her and absolute nothingness is a fourteen year old hunk of junk on wheels. All that will matter in her entire life is the view through that windshield. She will be broken at times, but never more broken then she was in that moment in the evening of February 15. 2005.
She will look at me with tears in her eyes and ask me who will pull the knife out of her hand. She is sure it will be the boy. I smile at her and tell her gently who she should be putting stock in is herself, because it is I who pull the knife away. Her somewhere, deep down, knowledge that I exist, that I will someday grow out of that broken girl, who was dead in spirit, and take the knife right out of her shaking hand.
I tell her that I know her well, I can remember the piercing feeling that no one loves her. I can remember it so well that I need to clutch at my chest to keep it from consuming me and burning through the numbness and apathy that protect me when I need them to. I tell her that nobody will ever understand just how real and true her pain is, except me. I reassure her that it's real. That she is not weak or wrong for feeling it. I tell her that she wants to live, because that I do remember. I do remember wanting to know, having a burning curiosity, just somewhere slightly out of reach of the burning alive that was happening to me every day. I remember wondering what love felt like. I want to explain to her what it feels like in that moment of innocence lost. I want to tell her that love is the kind of thing that evolves over time, that the first taste is bitter sweet, but that it's a need that will grow until it's acute to the point of hunger. I know she longs to find out what prom will be like. I want to tell her that she worked so hard to buy that beautiful dress, and that she will look beautiful and radiant in it. I want to tell her that the boy who really and truly does love her will take her and give her red roses on a corsage that will shine bright in her memories of the night for years. I want to tell her that someday she will inherit a family who loves her as her own should have. I want to tell her that she will graduate high school with honors and make an inspiring speech. I want to tell her that she will make her own way. I would tell her of all the good times waiting. She will make friends who will love her, appreciate her, and make her laugh raucously.
I think I would even tell her that she would come to know success in jobs. She wasn't aware yet of the streak of work ethic, little merited, but present in her heart. How passionately she will dedicate herself to her work, to her hobbies, to her home. I want to remind her that as time elapses and things morph, that she will mature, and though she thinks herself worldly, someday she will realize how the screaming dissipates into the past like vapors, and leaves hurts just deep enough that she will wince when remembering them, but that time will ebb and flow until the stabs are gone and all that is left will be dull ache.
I'm scared to tell her that in a few months' time that boy will break her heart. She will dangle at the brink of life and death for days, because he was all she had, except herself. She will realize that the only love in her life that she recognized was skin-deep, and only one thing will save her and allow me to be here typing this. Something in her heart will break completely. She will cry for hours and put down her cigarette, and realize that be damned to that boy, she is going to make it. Just like that, it will click, her reason for living will transfer itself, and it will continue to do so, every time her heart is broken, and the reason that she will always have a reason, is because deep down she wants to live. Plain and simple. In any form, in any context, she wants to live, and she knows that as bad as everything had been up until that point she must have only experienced the dregs of existence, and that it only had to get better. No boy could erase depression; he couldn't have stopped anyone from hurting her any more than her own weak arms had. The true defense and triumph was going to come later, in her heart and in her memories of the dark times.
That mislead boy would break her heart, would tear her into peaces for loving him. He would go on, move away, love another, have a kid, never really change.
She would evolve slowly. One day she would stand in her own home, with a job, and a cat, and a boyfriend. She would unload her dishwasher, start her dryer, set her alarm clock. She would go to sleep and have sweet dreams, and in the morning, she would awake and find that her life was just as beautiful and worth living as it was the day before.
Today I feel infinite. When I remember what I've conquered, and mostly with your help, everything has found a good comfortable spot in my head. I'm going outside now to meet the sky. Days like today I just want to lay in the grass and make shapes out of clouds.
I hope you are doing well Charlie, really and truly well.