By Rachel Miller, See the Triumph Contributor
Dear Teenage Me,
Some of what I am about to say you aren’t going to want to hear, of this I am aware. I ask you to listen with an open heart anyway, because at your deepest core, you will know I speak the truth.
First, let me promise you, these are not the best years of your life, regardless of what people may say, but are rather a blip in your big picture. You have amazing adventures to take, sights to see and goals to accomplish. These will make up the best years of your life, not high school. That said, you do need to understand that some of the decisions you make now, and in the coming years, will determine much larger parts of your life and have impacts that reach further than you can imagine right now. This is especially true of decisions around your relationships and partners.
You are bright and wiser than your years, but there are things you don’t know. Not because you’re young or inexperienced or not smart, but because the people in your life who should teach you these things don’t know them either. While you instinctually understand you haven’t had the best of examples, what you don’t yet grasp is that different doesn’t necessarily mean better. Different can actually be worse, much worse. Red flags aren’t things you know to watch for, and how truly dangerous a relationship can be is no more than an abstract concept to your soft, romantic heart that just wants to be loved and cherished.
What you know of domestic violence is only what you see on the random billboard or PSA. You think it happens to “other people.” Domestic violence is so much more than you’ve been shown. Abuse is more than black eyes, bruises and broken bones. It does and is happening to people you know. It can happen to you. An abusive partner will destroy your self-worth, your ambition and your dreams turning you into someone you won’t recognize.
For your own safety and well-being, please understand that jealousy and possessiveness are not romantic. It does not mean he loves you. It means he views you as property. Understand that restricting where you go and who you spend time with are not his way of showing you that he can’t live without you. It’s his way of shutting others out of your life so you’re isolated and won’t reach out when his abuse escalates. His temper and rage will not mellow with age. His inability to support your dreams now will progress to the point where your successes will be used against you. You will begin to question whether or not you deserve them anyway. When a person reveals himself to be any of these, I urge you to believe him. Falling in love with who you think someone will become or the potential you believe you see is dangerous. Dangerous in ways I know you can’t truly comprehend right now. Please, hear me anyway. Keep the things I am saying in your back pocket for future use.
The partner you’re dreaming of, yes, I know the one, he exists, but he’s not the person you think. He isn’t someone who disrespects and hurts you. He’s not the man who wants to control and limit you. He’s not someone you walk on eggshells around because you’re afraid of the next time he’ll blow up. He is the man who celebrates who you are, encourages you to grow and wants to help make your dreams reality. He is the man who thinks you’re amazing, flaws and all. He is the man who doesn’t make you think you are hard to love.
Stand strong in the knowledge of who you are, my darling girl. Never settle for less than you deserve. And always know you deserve the very best. You are worthy. You are worth moving heaven and earth to be with. You are a gift. If someone doesn’t see that, they aren’t worth your time. It’s okay to walk away from anything and anyone who doesn’t want to help you be the best version of yourself or who makes you feel less than. Relationships will come and go. Learn from them rather than feel trapped in them because you’re scared to be alone or afraid to admit you were wrong about someone. It’s okay to make mistakes. Own them, learn the lesson and move forward. Believe that you can handle anything that comes your way, because you can, but know there are things you should never handle and let those go.
Love yourself enough to walk away from what hurts your soul. Love yourself to shine as brightly as you know you can.
All my love,