Dear Little Me,
I’m not sure what I could say to you to make you believe the world is kinder than you understand it to be, or which mirror I could hold in front of you that would make you see you are so beautiful, so loved, and so needed in this world, my beautiful, darling girl.
You will learn to think the world is gray and mean, but it won’t be that way for long, and it doesn’t have to be that way at all. Your life so far has been based on losing yourself to others, and I know you are functioning from the pain of inadequacy and the fear of not being enough, but I see you, little me, and you are enough. Do you hear me? You are, enough.
I hope that you learn to see this true beauty of yourself. If not, it will become easy for you to seek affirmation in the wrong places with the pain that you carry, and so I urge you to love yourself so much that you don’t need the love of another to make you feel worthy of being alive.
There will be men that cross your path who will treat you unkindly. They will lie, cheat, and steal, and you will listen to them when they tell you who you are. They will hurt you, and you will start to become a shadow of the girl you knew yourself to be. Please understand that you are not defined by how much another person wants you, and that deep down in the belly of your soul, color and brightness linger there.
You will travel and have great adventures, and while travelling you will meet a man who charms you and offers you a life of excitement. You start a relationship with him, and you will think this is love; you will come to believe you must sacrifice and be in pain for love. After the first month, he will begin to ask you questions about your whereabouts, your clothes, and your motives. You’re flattered at first, feeling protected, but the tables quickly turn. You won’t recognize what all this means immediately, and you must forgive yourself for that.
This man will be unfaithful to you after two months, and when he sits you down next to the other girl over breakfast, masterfully explaining his story, you will have a sudden, burning desire to run. So run. Run far and wide and towards the sun. Trust this desire to move, your intuition, because it is screaming the truth out to you.
If you don’t run, he will move in with you. You’ll soon discover he was unfaithful again, but you will forgive him, as you will do many more times. At first the nights are hardest. He will look at your outfits with disgust, calling you cheap. You love going out dancing, but he will tell you you’re a whore if you dance and so you begin to sit still. You love singing, after growing up in musical theater, but he will tell you you’re a bitch if you sing in public and so you learn to only listen. He’s convinced you’re cheating on him with your friends – men and women – and so you stop seeing them. They’ll be concerned, but they back away, listening to the excuses you give for him. You won’t be completely happy, but you see the brokenness in this man who cuts his arms with a kitchen knife in front of you, and you want to put him back together, to heal him. He’ll often pack a bag at 3am and threaten to leave until you’ve begged and sobbed all of your energy out of you. He stays, but only if you agree to be nice. Oh, my darling girl I am there holding your hand.
As the months go by, the days get harder too. He’ll spend your earnings on cigarettes and alcohol, and he’ll gamble rent money away and sell your jewelry. He drinks a lot, you notice, and he’ll be drunk the first time he attacks you one weekday afternoon, strategically punching your head so your hair hides the bruises and no one will see. He throws psychological and verbal abuse at you while he strangles you until you can barely breathe. It lasts for about an hour, like all of these episodes will. He tells you not to tell anyone because they won’t believe you, so you don’t. You think he only turns into this monster when he’s drunk and so, on a good day, he promises to stop drinking. He only stays clean for a few days and you start to realize this man is a functioning alcoholic. When he hurts you sober, the truth will set in like a cold darkness covering your bones.
As months pass, he will start to shout at you in the street, in the supermarket, at the restaurant. The first time he punches you in public, the police will arrest him but then send you home together. You lie silent in your bedroom while he sits outside the door with his best friend, laughing and joking about what happened. You quit your job the next day, ashamed and afraid of the bruise over your eye. When makeup will cover it, you venture out and a friend asks you to babysit for her. He doesn’t want you to, but you do – you’ve been living off leftovers he brings home and you need the money. He breaks his own arm while you’re out so you have to leave early and he’ll be angry that you weren’t there for him.
His mistrust will grow, stalking and threatening you at work and at the lucky times you’ve been let out to meet your friends. One night he’ll be so convinced you’ve cheated on him that he’ll drive you to the top of a mountain on his motorcycle – no, your motorcycle – and threaten to kill you. He’s so drunk that he swerves and crashes the bike, hurting your leg but saving your life.
The abuse will only get worse. Every time you say no or cry, he’ll threaten to kill you. He likes these words - he’ll also tell you to leave or he’ll kill you, then when you do he will cry and hold you in an embrace. It will mess with your judgment and you won’t know what’s right and what’s wrong anymore, like the time he uses your own hands to punch yourself, laughing and exclaiming that you’re the one doing this, not him. You will be walking on so many eggshells with so much fear instilled in you that you don’t leave the apartment – someone might see you outside and tell him. Unless he’s with you or you’re going to work, you spend days in the corner of a room, staring out of the window while he’s out. You’ll have a very dark day like this, but you will get through it. Does this even sound real? Oh, to tell you it all would be to write a novel. Only now I look back do I see the cycle and understand the relationship for what it was.
I am so incredibly proud of you, though. Do you want to know why? Because one day, while you’re tied to a chair in the middle of the room, him prowling in rage around you, something inside of you snaps and you think to yourself, I don’t deserve this, this is not what my life is supposed to be. I don’t know how and I don’t know why this thought comes to you, but you quietly begin to plan your escape. It will take you a while, hiding money bit by bit inside the sleeve of an unassuming book, and he wants you to move to his parent’s house so packing your small suitcase won’t look suspicious. You’ll reach an obstacle when he wants to spend your next paycheck on a car, which you stand up to, but eventually relent when he presses a knife into you. Only then do you reach out and tell someone. They will be there for you, I promise.
You leave this relationship at 3:00am on a Saturday morning in November. Don’t worry, he won’t be drunk or angry, he will be fast asleep in bed. You call a taxi, and when it arrives, you jump inside with your body singing hallelujahs at you. As it bumps along the gravel roads towards the airport, you won’t be able to stop smiling. He won’t find out you’re gone until the morning, but by then you’ll be through airport security. Not that this will matter - he won’t believe you’ve actually left him.
So for what seems like an eternity, you will cease to exist as the person you knew yourself to be, but this darkness passes and you will get through the pain. When that second comes that you suddenly set your eyes upon the expanse of your life that is waiting for you, do not fear the questions. Do not fear the unknown. Do not fear the art of losing. There is life, and light, and fullness ahead of you.
Whatever it takes for your heart and soul to heal – whatever you need to do to begin your healing journey – do it. It will be extremely hard, but keep going, you’ll get there. You have the power to do amazing and beautiful things. Work on your voice; write it, sing it, walk it out amongst the morning birdsong, then write and sing some more. Hold tight to your notebooks full of observations and pressed flowers because these are the memories of your soul and spirit that you must grow from.
And after you have healed the darkest places in you, a man will come into your life offering you a love and kindness that is patient, unconditional, and so beautiful you’ll be afraid to take it all in. See this man as he is – a good man, cut from a different, beautiful golden cloth than the men who came before him. Please, let yourself deserve his love. Let yourself deserve your own love - because this is what love is. Beautiful, safe, and giving. Love should feel like a thousand rosebuds exploding in your heart, and you deserve that - a life that blooms like blossoms in spring.
My darling, love yourself because I love you – I love you so much because you gave me me.
I will be here for you always and I am there for you now,
Jessica is passionate about sharing her story after realizing exploring the different ways she could share hers had been a healing and transformational practice. She recently completed her Master's degree and is a life coach for women who are ready to empower themselves to find their own voice.