I can’t believe you are 27 now. I don’t know where the time has gone because it seems like just yesterday you were celebrating your first 20 years on this earth. Do you remember what it felt like to be that young? You were finally becoming the person you were always meant to be, even though you couldn’t see it then.
You were sad all of the time. You were struggling, and I don’t think that many people knew. Behind the vibrant façade was a very sad, lonely girl just trying to find her place in a world that had shown her so much cruelty. You didn’t know it then, but this was going to become one of the most transformative years of your life. Being 20 meant more than just leaving your teenage years behind. Your twentieth year here simultaneously became the year you found your strength and then lost it all. You could have never known how much this year would change you.
Around the time of your twentieth birthday, someone at your university was very cruel to you, and you began to question everything. You cried on your floor and wondered why you were even there in the first place. You sobbed and wondered how someone like you could have gotten mixed up with so many talented people. You even began to convince yourself that you did not belong there or maybe even anywhere at all. But then, everything began to change.
Your dream job called, and this time, you were sobbing tears of joy. Someone had finally seen your potential and maybe now, you would be able to see it, too. Do you remember how it felt to be so close to giving up? Imagine what would have happened if you did. The trajectory of your entire life would have changed. I hope that you never lose that memory so that you never get that close to losing yourself again.
You were so naïve then. You were always strong, but that summer made you stronger. You lived alone in a strange city and worked in an environment that did not always make you feel the safest. You learned how to take up space without apologizing for it and how to burn your brightest when all anyone around you wanted was to put you out. You stopped blaming yourself for the actions of others and started to believe that you deserved to be here. I hope you always remember that you deserve to be here.
Do you remember how unstoppable you felt after that summer? You were so sure of yourself then, so sure that nothing and no one was ever going to get in your way again. But then, you met him. This was the year you met the person whose actions would shape your life forever. This was the year that you truly learned the weight of one decision and how difficult coming back from it could be. This was the year he devoured you.
I wish I could have saved you from all of the pain. I wish I could have done more to make you listen to the alarm bells going off in your head and the constant feeling in your gut that something was not quite right. But for the first time in a long time, you felt love. All you ever wanted was for someone to want you back, and who was I to stop you when you finally found it? I hope one day you stop blaming yourself for the abuse, for everything. You were just a lost girl looking for love, so how were you supposed to see the hidden conditions surrounding his heart?
You went from being an independent, goal-oriented woman to someone I cannot even recognize today. Suddenly, every action, every word had to be carefully planned and articulated so that you never made him upset. Suddenly, you were a lot less concerned with discovering your dreams so that you could try to fit yourself into his. I wish I could have made you see that anyone who makes you choose between loving them and loving yourself is not someone deserving of your love. I wish I could have told you that enough was enough the first time he made you do things you were not ready for, were not comfortable with. I wish I could have made you never pick up that phone the first time he begged for your forgiveness after breaking your heart for what would become the first of many times. Too many times. I just wish I would have known better. I am so sorry that I didn’t know better.
You never could have anticipated that seven years later, you would still be haunted by his toxic love. You had no idea that you would spend three long, destructive years with this person, only to have to spend another four still trying to pick up the pieces. I don’t know if we will ever be able to find all of our pieces.
But here we are, almost seven years later, and you are doing so much better than you ever could have imagined. Back then, you couldn’t find a way out from the mess you had become entangled in, but you fought for years, and now here you are. You are stronger than ever, and you can finally say that you are rid of him. His hands have never forcibly touched this body. His words have never stung this heart, this mind. You are renewed, and you are better because of it all.
Often our suffering seems like a dead end at the time, but you have to remember that everything happens for a reason. No one deserves the horrible things that happen to them, but we all deserve the opportunity to grow and become stronger because of them.
You still don’t have it all figured out, and some days, it seems like you never will. Some days, you still wonder if you made the right choice in leaving him because it seems like life could have been so much easier had you chosen the other path. But just because something appears easier on the outside doesn’t mean that it actually is. A beautiful appearance can hide a lot of pain, but eventually, the pain will have to break free.
I am so happy that you finally broke free.
Here’s to another seven years of becoming the person you were always destined to be.