Our family wasn’t perfect, and neither was our house. I remember when I was younger and I watched you do all of the things I hoped to do when I was older, despite all the dysfunction happening around us. I watched you get ready and put on your make up, eyes sparkling and a smile ready to make everyone at the party eat their heart out. You’d run out, keys in hand, the smell of your favorite perfume that would later on cover up so much more. I admired your actions from afar, hoping I could be half the girl you were, still being so strong in the midst of doors slamming screaming, angry voices.
Then one day I realized that you were tired. Somewhere along the way the smile that lit up the room was stolen by something dark and looming, and the hop in your step turned into a struggle to keep moving. The words that came from you were heavy and muddied by confusion and fear that stuck to your voice like cement. Maybe this was when you would soon become the strongest women I knew, no longer just a girl. What I never realized when I would watch you, so seemingly care-free and always on the go, was that you had been acting for some time. Although your view of when you hit rock bottom might’ve been when you were scraped off the floor, drunk and crying, my view of your rock bottom was when you were holding the weight of the world on your shoulders too easily, trying to be strong for me and everyone else, all while ignoring your own pain.
Our family taught us so much then, and the main lesson was act as if nothing is bothering you. We lived on a life-long carousel, sparkling and innocent to watch from the outside, nauseating after too long and impossible to stop from the inside. It’s hard to believe that I didn’t talk to you for almost two years when I thought I had lost you for good. You weren’t the girl I remembered and that scared me so much; but now I realize that what should’ve scared me more was that I missed a girl that wasn’t real. What I know now is that when you collapsed under all of that pressure, is that was the moment you were becoming the real you. Someone who had for so long, acted on a stage for people, being controlled by puppet strings, you finally broke away. You were exhausted and trying to wash off all of that thick stage make up, begging to find the real you.
Today, I watch you as someone smart, driven, courageous, and a heart of absolute gold. You have taught me that rawness, though maybe ugly and misunderstood by many, is the most beautiful you can be until you’re able to stand again. Maybe Addiction did tear you apart for a while, and I know you’re still scared sometimes, and sad because you feel different. You are different, but only because you were able to expose yourself. You stopped being fake and lost the people that couldn’t accept you for who you were for the moment until you could heal. Know that they are missing out, and know that the people who are still around love you unconditionally. Most importantly, know that because of you I have a better definition for what strength is. I know now that strength isn’t being able to smile when you want to scream, or blinking back any amount of tears. It’s when you’ve singlehandedly demolished yourself and are still later able to proudly tell what used to be there when you’ve rebuilt from it. It’s being yourself even if it means it’s messy and out of the norm for a bit. Know that because of you, I’m stronger too.