For the friend I wanted to let in who became the sister I decided to keep. I hope you don’t mind this open letter that I am sending across the world to you. ♥
You’re going through a hard time and I can feel it through my phone and I feel it when your messages pop up, before I even open them and I can feel it while you’re in the mountains and I’m by the sea. I know it to be true while I’m exploring my old city and you’re sleeping under stars in a hemisphere all your own.
I understand the need you have and the want that feels like the same thing.
I don’t feel that way anymore but I think that I used to and I want to explain to you how it gets better. How your insides can change and die and bloom again. I want to tell you how it all happens and how you’ll know when you’re there and how much longer you have to wait. I want to tell you what you can do in the meantime to make it all easier.
I am sitting here trying to think of when things changed for me and how self-hatred turned to self-love and everything broke open once and for all. I want to pinpoint the moment so I can hand it to you with a bow and say, “Here, just do this. You’ll feel better.”
My sad, truthful answer is that it all changed during the worst times. Not the good. In the deep misery when I wanted to die but had no energy to act. Things changed when I hated myself the most. When I let people hurt me on purpose and I knew it was coming and I did nothing to stop them. My heart split open when big players in my life said the cruelest things and they weren’t sorry and I invited them right in anyway.
Everything changed for me when the boy I loved disappeared without a word. It changed when I found him and he said he was happy without me. I started loving myself when my own mother admitted that she couldn’t. The god damn pain kept coming harder and faster and I kept waking up every day angry about it all. When I couldn’t pick up the phone and I couldn’t shower and I could not.stop.crying. I started loving myself then.
Things changed when I was far from my friends and terrorism existed right on their doorstep and it still does and I never really know what will happen next and I hope and pray for them all the time.
I stopped hating myself when I was met with the purest anger from people I had tried to love for a really long time. My life changed when other people wouldn’t. When I faced truths I don’t ever want you to know about.
My deep self-hatred ended when I moved my body and tried out my spirit. When I flexed the muscles, some that had never been used and I attempted something different. When I got out of bed. When I picked up a book. When I wrote down some words and had no expectations except to get through the next breath.
That’s the messy answer of how the bad stuff ended.
How did the ending begin? I am trying to think of the right answer to tell you. The sweet one. The easy one. I want this story to have a neat beginning, middle and end. Just like the stories we love reading.
I think my ending began with taking a step towards something I wanted. I scared myself in a positive way. I think my ending began when I let a person love me and I didn’t think I deserved to be loved in any way at all but he told me I did and he didn’t leave my side. He treated me how he saw me and how he saw me was very different than the mirror I kept forcing myself to look in.
I made the decision to allow myself to get swept up in his whirlwind and it was easy because he has a magnetic personality and you know that.
You’re also the one who taught me the term ‘gas-lighting’ to describe this love I had with him and so you know how the story really goes. How it starts beautiful and ends ugly. I want my answers for you to be prettier than this and wrapped up in bows but I need them to be truthful because that’s how our friendship has always worked.
This twisted truth is that yes, that same person who pushed me into doorways and raised his hand to my face and called me evil, vicious names also taught me to love myself.
He had bad sides and good sides and I was there in the middle and despite it all, I came out of it feeling somehow worthy. It’s funny that the worth he taught me is what has allowed me to stay away. There’s some sort of magic there.
I took that little bit of worth and self-esteem and I crawled from point A to point B with my tail between my legs the entire time. I cried my face off like you do too sometimes and I felt too many feelings like you do too, and I wrote words down some days and I kissed some feelings away, gave them to someone else. I took my baggage elsewhere is what I’m telling you.
And the next love taught me even more. The salvaging of all of my parts came so easily. I don’t know how and I don’t know why and I’m not yet okay with the fact that the one who helped me heal is now happy without me, but that’s my ugly truth that I need to tell you.
I want to give you band aids and potions and sunshine until you feel better but right now all I have are words that hopefully connect some dots.
Maybe the point is that there is no magic answer for me to give you. I don’t know. What I did, my solution, was that I just kept going. I sat still with pain and I moved forward at the same time. This ability came from all the broken messes I kept finding myself in. There was no waiting for it all to get better first, you need to understand that part. You can’t wait.
I think the journey of starting to love myself began when I met you, kid. You came at the beginning too. Don’t forget that. We met and we clicked and you danced like a pure country girl even though it was 3 am and we were in a dark bar in the middle of Copenhagen and I watched you and you looked free and you didn’t seem to care that no one in Denmark line dances. Your curls bounced and you did what you wanted to do. You were happy and you were bold.
If I hadn’t met you, I don’t know if I would have learned to love myself the way I do now.
You are wise beyond your years and you see feelings swirling in the air and you just know how to help us all.
You have the most understanding spirit and you’re gentle with the bruised heart I keep offering you throughout this friendship. I want to do the same for you. I want to be the kind of friend to you that you are to me, so that’s why I’m spending my Sunday evening attending the church of Wise Words and Friendship. I need this to be a bit easier for you. I need you to feel lighter.
So I am going to promise you this, you sweet sad girl:
Everything in your life is going to burst wide open and you are going to bloom from all this.
You are going to bloom even though he wasn’t gentle with your purest parts. He loves you but it’s a different love and yours is bigger. That’s all. In the end, you win.
Do you hear me? You love people bigger than they can even love themselves sometimes and I am that example so please, be patient with yourself.
Things will change even though your tribe doesn’t understand. Even though you need them to be there for you in your way and not their way. You need to know that they will change and come around and accept the way that you always glow a bit brighter. A lot of your best bits came from this ever expanding tribe, so don’t sell them short but set some healthy boundaries.
I want you to know that you can accept love from someone and that the love at the start can change into something very different and you are not to blame. Love is a thing that changes and we are lucky that it does. Give yourself time.
I want you to know that men can do some ugly, ugly things. Also, those aren’t men. I’m sorry for every ounce of this truth that you already know. I’m sorry.
I want you to know that guilt can eat your soul up and you can’t exist as a beautiful girl in this world without your soul so fix it and heal it and do the work required and make it a priority.
The world needs you because you’ve been made for things. You, exactly as you are, are the exact person needed to make sad people happy again and to make lonely people look upwards and to make content people feel excited about their lives.
You are filled with passions and joys and right now, lots of pain but the pain isn’t who you are. It’s a thing that you feel. What comes from that pain and what you do with it, becomes your story. You can write that anyway that you want.
You’ve left friends that you’ve loved and family that you needed and boys with heart melting accents. You’ve moved cities and glaciers and islands. You keep going and you keep changing people’s lives bit by bit and maybe now your change will come when you give to yourself all of the beautiful things you’ve given to us.
Mostly, my sweet sister, I want you to be gentle with yourself. I want you to use kind words. I want you to let the tears fall and to let the guilt wash out to sea. You are broken now because of people and experiences that happened to you and around you, but you are beautiful always and you are my friend and I need you all the time and want you just the same.
Life is hard sometimes but we are going to do all this hard shit together because that’s also how things get easier and change happens. There are 14 000 kilometers between us but I will take airplanes and buses to get to you if you need.
For tonight, I am using my words here and my love out there and sending every last ounce of it your way.