making way: a letter to myself I should have written a long time ago

This letter is very late in getting to you, but it's important for you, younger version of myself, to hear this. I've written before about things I wish I could tell you, things to hang on to before you need them. It is a letter I should revisit more frequently, just to remind myself of lessons I've learned. But this letter, here, is one I write with a specific purpose in mind and I should get to it.

It's going to be okay. You're going to be okay.
Though nothing about what happened to you is okay, everything you're experiencing and will experience is appropriate and understandable. Don't fight the emotions, let them guide you through the turmoil and difficult times ahead. Life is messy and chaotic and full of tenderness and brokenness and hope and sadness. Your life, in particular, is complicated but full and rich with so many amazing people and places and ideas. And it would not be that way, if it weren't for some of the horribly shitty things you survived. I wish you could understand how all of the decisions you're being forced to make will create spaces for all of the wonderful things we eventually do. But I know that in the depths of hatred and despair, shame and grief that you feel right now, you can't think about the future. You can barely think about the next five minutes. But that is how you survive, moments at a time.

This may be the most important thing you should know: you did nothing wrong.

You did nothing wrong.

I don't think I can say it enough. Say it aloud; hear how it sounds coming from your mouth. You (we) did nothing wrong!

I know how frequently you will retrace every single conversation, every glance, every possible word exchanged for a hint of what was to come or of a potential way you might have been misunderstood. Believe me when I say that you couldn't have changed anything. The violence bubbled beneath the surface of this boy long before he crossed your path. You did nothing wrong. You could not have known. For weeks before that afternoon you hung out with him and his friends and everything was fine. There were no red flags, no warning signs. He was skilled at being exactly what he needed to be to gain your trust. This is not your fault. This is not your fault.

The decisions you make between then and now have at their core your survival. These may not always make sense to you or the people who love you. That is okay. You are doing the best you can and sometimes that best is showering and making it to class. You will look back at what you've been through one day and be amazed at how far you've come. You will accomplish great things if you allow yourself. You will be okay and better than okay. The road ahead is not an easy one but every single thing you do makes us successful, eventually.

I need to tell you that I forgive you, self, and I appreciate the hard decisions you made to get us here. No one as young as you should be asked to make the kinds of choices you made. You should not have felt alone and scared. I'm sorry it has taken me so long to let you know that you can let go, now. You no longer have to hold on to the guilt, regret or trauma of the decisions we made. I'm letting you off the hook. I never should have placed you there to begin with.

It's okay to believe again, especially in yourself.