Day 1: "Write a letter to yourself ten years ago. What do you know now that you wish you'd known then?"
It’s August of 2004, you’re nineteen years old, and you are a couple days away from experiencing your first real kiss. I know you think you’re falling in love right now, but you’re not. If I could tell you anything it would be, “run!” but I know very well you won’t listen to that. So I’m just going to start with take care of yourself.
The next few months are going to be very hard for you. Your life is changing rapidly. You’re falling “in love” and falling apart. Your heart is going to break. You are going to be terrified. Eventually you’ll get used to the panic attacks. And then one day you’ll wake up and realize it’s been months since one has happened. They will go away. You can breathe. The pain and fear….it’s all for the best. It’s not going to seem like it, but it will be.
You’re falling for someone who’s out to eat you alive. He’s not a good guy. He’s controlling, manipulative, and emotionally abusive. He’s going to make you doubt yourself and feel worthless. But you will get through it. And you will find happiness on the other side. While your heart is breaking you are going to meet the greatest guy. He’s going to make you laugh, he’s going to listen to you whine about your heartache, and in a few years he’s going to sweep you off your feet with stories about tampon people. He’s worth it. He’s going to teach you to take chances and show you what it feels like to be beautiful.
I know you don’t believe it, but you are beautiful. You are strong, smart, funny, and pretty. Be confident. Find that confidence and use it. You’re going through such a dark time and the next year or so is going to be dark. It’s going to be hard. It’ll be years before you realize that this first relationship is really just abuse. It’ll be years before you shed the depression and anxiety and find yourself. You are worth finding. You are worth the search. All of this…all the darkness and heartbreak.....the waking up gasping for breath, the loneliness, the tears, and the happy moments with your best friends…it’s all just pieces of the puzzle. Those experiences are what it is going to take to find yourself. So do it. Find you. Find your confidence, your beauty, your happy places. In the end it’s all just one big adventure. Hold on tight, it’s going to be a wild ride. But you’re going to make it to the other side. And you will be a better person for it.