I’ve been distracted by work lately and haven’t had a chance to write to you. But I still think of you often.
Today I watched the autumn leaves fall from the trees like colorful paper butterflies in a dancing descent. I love this time of year. The smells are rich and the colors vivid. Where spring breathes life into everything and makes my heart beat faster with anticipation, autumn calms me and is a season of reflection.
Your moments of reflection are different than mine are now. So much of your inner thoughts and feelings are dark and harsh. You strive to make up for this with unvoiced fantasies where you play the hero and are untouched by the poisonous people and emotions surrounding you. Always, your stories are tales of strength, valor, sacrifice, and survival. You hold on to these stories because you want to believe that you are capable of this level of perfection.
Eventually, you will forgive yourself for being human. And then you will embrace your humanness and see it as something beautiful… flawed… and resilient.
When this happens, how you talk to yourself will change. Right now, your fantasies are heroic… but your inner voice is merciless. You replay your mistakes over and over again. You try to rewrite the outcome and vow to not make the same error ever again. And as much as you will deny it, you are equally merciless with the people around you. You just do a better job of hiding it. Or you tell yourself that it’s okay for them to mess up… but you hold yourself to a higher standard. What you don’t realize is that the standard you expect is inhumane.
Your anger is a daily emotion that lies buried beneath even the most exceptional days. It seeps into your dreams and warps them into nightmares of pulse pounding anxiety, haunted abandonment, harrowing battles, and wrenching betrayal. This happens so frequently that you sadly believe it’s just a fact of life. It isn’t.
Your life will change. Not all at once. It will take years and years of deep engagement with yourself along with the help of a talented therapist and a profoundly supportive and forgiving mate, children, and a few close friends.
Your words to yourself will be kind and accepting. Your compassion will ease the harsh feelings that try to rise up when you make a mistake. You will forgive yourself for your limitations and yet still strive to better yourself. This last part is important… because you confuse anger at lack of perfection with trying to be better. But it actually holds you back from real improvement.
Please understand that these words I share with you are not judgment on your character. You are in the midst, or coming out of, terrible circumstances that require you to protect yourself. You are doing the best that you can possibly do to survive. It will be a long time until you feel safe enough to challenge your habits and see that they are no longer necessary. But this won’t happen until you are actually safe. Use this as your gauge. When you take stock of your life and you honestly believe that the people around you cannot hurt you more than you allow them to, then you have enough power to grow.
Until then, you must do what it takes to survive. Bottle up those fragile parts and protect them until you can find someone to trust. Then uncork and gently explore them. But give yourself time and space to do so slowly… with care. Your desire to dive in and wrestle the memories that haunt you can create an ocean of pain. Tread lightly and you will instead find yourself navigating a gentle rain… that sometimes becomes a downpour… but not enough to drown you.
As you read these words, know that I admire you. I am proud of your passion and your tenacity. I feel for your struggle to hold back the tears. I am saddened by the pain you carry but also inspired by your strength.
Most of all, you need to know that you succeeded. You found the courage to reach out and ask for help. You learned to trust. Your nightmares diminish and are filled with dreams of wonder and colorful creativity. And those scars inside fade into memories that hold compassion instead of regret and derision. You won’t forget. You simply won’t suffer.
Hold on, young warrior. Your peace is waiting for you.
Love and Respect,