You and I haven’t met yet, but I know you all too well. I know that sounds cryptic, but that’s something you’ll have to get used to throughout this message. It’s going to be a long one, so I’ll do my best to keep your attention. After all, I’m speaking to the part of me that didn’t have their attention span altered by the outside world.
But there it is. I’m you. At least, a version of you that is still processing what you’ve gone through, and fearing what’s coming, yet it’s what I’ve seen. I won’t say how far in the future I’m speaking from. But it’s going to take time that you’ll need to get to where I’m at, so I can write this to you.
So, one thing that’s fair to ask is…why?
There’s an idea that’s existed for years. Where you write to your past self and let them know you’ve made it. Where you’ve ‘made it’ can vary with each person, but between us, you’ve made it to a point where all those troubling thoughts can finally transform into words. Coherent ones that stick with you for a long time, all to let you know that you’ll be okay. And that’s putting it lightly.
Another thing you’re probably asking is…can you trust me?
You’ve gone through a lot of reasons to be paranoid at everyone and anything that’s been around, and brand new. Most have hurt you in ways you wish you could express, but you’re not in enough control yet. You still have a few things to risk punching holes in or through before you get that far.
And even then, you’ll have those moments resurface. After all, it’s all part of the healing process. But none of these answers your question. So, the best answer I can give is… that I hope you do.
Last, you’ll demand proof. Which is fair, because you remember a time where a so-called friend stood at your doorstep to claim that they knew you better than you know yourself. Which, considering that moment was back in high school, the time where any teenager thinks they know it all, that person may have been right. But they came from a broken home just like you, and you were an easy target for their insecurity. Sadly, you’ll feel some people bred you to be one, and it’ll make you want to fight anyone responsible. Two people, specifically, but we’ll get to them later.
And in case you want more proof, let’s dig into an occasional safe space, entertainment.
There was a cartoon that was way ahead of its time. It had themes that were mature enough for older viewers, but done so that the wee lads like us could watch enough to beg our parents for related merch.
But there’s one line from the show that has proven to be of greater value. One that you’ll keep with you for years. But won’t truly feel its weight until you grow into your true self.
“All men have something to hide. The brighter the picture, the darker the negative.”
I have given you a powerful look at the past and your present. I’ve given you the taste of many futures. But now it’s my turn to do the same about me.
Like I said before, we technically aren’t different people. We’re still very much the same. You haven’t lived my life yet. But I have lived yours, repeatedly. I’m learning how to not curse any of it for happening, because without it, I would not have the knowledge and courage to reach out to you like this.
And when you choose to let this get out to the public, you will be grateful for everyone that can relate to the both of us. You’ll surprise yourself with how many people are coming out about the type of pain that we’ve been through, and how it’s affected them throughout their lives.
Young and old, many are finally coming out to the people they trust, a licensed professional, and even the world. Some do it on levels that reach national news. Others like us are doing it quietly, even more artistic, to what I’ve chosen, but that doesn’t mean our choice is invalid. We’re in the time where the “imposter syndrome” is more recognizable, and it’s easier to fight back against.
But even with this hopeful talk I can put into you, I still face triggers. The type that are inspired by flashbacks of points where many people hurt or betrayed us, including and aside from the Sources.
My thoughts can get volatile, but I do my best to calm them down. They come back, some stronger than previous ones, but they come back. At least I’m careful not showing that side of myself to unconditional loved ones, yet I feel that happening too. That scares me as much as the fear of losing them if it does.
However, their subtle or loud reminders of how wonderful I am and have been more essential than I’ve let them know, but I still find my ways to. Chances are when the day comes that enough of them read this, they will know the depths of both my thanks, and my love is to them.
There’s even someone that I once considered a close friend that inspired me to write to you. They wanted to do the same thing, write a book about their personal journey while being careful about naming names. But they didn’t get as far as the “writing to your past self” idea. That’s all me. The rest were creative choices that fit this path, far removed from that person.
As for why me and that person aren’t close anymore, over time they became extremely reminiscent of the trauma that I’ve talked about. Even now, I can say we don’t want to learn the hard way that they haven’t changed. They aren’t the only one that do, and some try to reconnect with us. My entire being can’t take that risk with people again, and you already know that feeling. Just can’t put it into words yet.
But you must understand that it’s why people won’t want to reconnect with you, too. Some of what we’ve done is reprehensible. Borderline criminal. And even if the law can’t touch you, the court of public opinion has strengthened its grip on a person’s past behaviors, no matter how much they’ve changed. I found it’s why I fear fame in any aspect. But I learned how to not let it dam my growth, my progress to be and remain better than the old me. The older us. And the person in-between.
Guess what? There’s good that’s present in this timeline. There are people that believe in us because we’re not talking or doing what we’ve done. And that’s to bury the feelings we’ve been told that they don’t matter, often by the people that are supposed to love and support all your feelings.
The biggest of them is anger, towards anything and anyone, including towards them. They may never be in a place to hear what I have to say, so that’s why I’m reaching out to you. That’s also why it’s been easier to help others in their own trials.
It’s also why you’ve become a better friend to a select few. A more open sibling. A boundary-setting child. And, believe me or not, the best lover someone in their own path of healing will ever have.
The road for you is going to be long and often dark, but to this day, one other quote still rings true. “It can’t rain all the time.”
Our stories aren’t over.
But this message to you is about to be.
I must be a bit more delicate with this part. This one is about the last lover you’ll ever have, at least in the season that you’re in. Things get interesting, arguable better after that, but let’s focus on this one.
There’s a person who you’ll meet that serves as the total package for you. Smart, funny, creative, beautiful voice, magnetic smile, all the check marks that make them The One for you. But you are still acting on the impulses of a toxic environment that promotes juggling options, often deceptively, before sticking to your last choice.
Sparing a bunch of details, it all ends with them. Let’s call them Dee.
For a time, things look amazing and progressive with you both. Even connecting further with creative outlets that you two want to be more than just an improv jam session between you, and occasionally mutual friends.
But there’s a lot of pain that you’ll discover in your pairing, and you push aside yours to make sure Dee is okay. That’s fine, to a point. It’s what you do when you declare any type of love for someone. You quiet your ego to attend to another’s grief, especially in the fear of them “opting-out.” And that fear happens a lot.
Over time, you become the primary subject of Dee’s grief. You stress over the same domestic topics that, according to Dee, are easy to manage with the simple suggestion to “just leap.” But you don’t, out of fear of multiple reasons, loosely or directly, based on what I have talked about to this point.
But it’s mostly because you repeatedly backslide on your claims of doing better, promising that you’re not screwing around with your individual goals.
But you won’t see it as backsliding in those moments. Just like how you won’t see your counterpoints being meant to gaslight or guilt trip them into believing you’ll change. You’ll do and say anything to keep them from leaving you, to avoid losing the idea that your relationship status alone means you’re doing alright.
This is even considering that you’ll notice issues with them, as well. Mannerisms that reflect your upbringing, your environments of choice or circumstance, but none hurt more than the repeated claims of infidelity. You know how deeply that subject hurts you, and you’ll feel they did too until this point.
Quick, deeper flashback. You still remember the day you found clothes thrown on your house’s lawn because one’s sins were (re)discovered, and later that night having to help a family friend come between them to prevent more harmful events from happening.
And despite sharing that with Dee, they’ll still accuse you of it. More than once. Even going as far as cutting you out of a picture you’ll take together once it’s put online.
All of that is enough for you to want to walk first. There are other reasons that connect to emotional abuse, but that topic alone is non-negotiable.
But you’ll try to salvage things because this is part of a concept of love that has hurt you more than you’ve yet to realize. Not just with Dee, but with others past and present, romantically charged or not. Most deeply, the Sources. The ones that want you to bend to their complaints, but never wish to hear ones about themselves, just as Dee will at a pivotal point.
But after they walk, and you’ve had enough distance from each other, you’ll realize that it had to be done to be the cycle breaker. That, and you’ve been in love with not just your concept of Dee, but the trauma that’s been around you for decades.
This is pain that hasn’t come to you yet, and as much as I shake my head in reminders, it’s the biggest step needed to reach where I am, so that you know that it’s what was best for you, and most others around you. I say most because some won’t want to hear that talk. Because learning what’s wrong with you will indirectly reveal something’s wrong with them.
But I can say the same of you.
Breathe easy. You and I are next.
Nothing can change as much as they do.
The people you know now will show their true selves later, and how that happens is by you growing into something new. You’ll still be in your pre-awakening states for it, and some will be quicker to cut over others.
Part of you will keep some around because you’re unbothered by their appearance, especially since some were too good to show up for times that mattered or will matter to you.
Some will watch and wait until they feel like entertaining your presence. Let them. As much as they can be annoying and shady in that regard, it takes time and healing to know who’s real and who’s not.
Some you’ll even find aren’t worth telling much, or any of your story to. You’ll have thirty seconds to tell what’s going on with you, and they’ll command much more. That’s if you get a word in at all. It’s how you attempt to master short-form storytelling, hoping you sell it well enough to hold their attention. It’s unfair, annoying, and it becomes the reason you recoil from most social interactions.
And even the times you go out with some of them, you feel lonely. Like even when you share your excitement over something, you risk being mocked for it, just as you have with one person who, as of my timeline, no longer exists with us. You know who they are. You’re clenching your fists thinking about them. More than any people you’ve known longer. So congratulations in advance on them being one of many to get the boot.
But until then, you’ll be latching on to people that so much as speak your pop culture language, and sometimes latch to the point of being clingy. You won’t see that so easily because coping tactics are a hell of a drug. So is your ignorance about most people’s lifestyles, and even preferred pronouns.
The latter is a phrase that isn’t so mainstream in your time, but you’ll come to compare it to anyone calling you outside your preferred name, especially for your physical appearance.
The dynamic will be different, but close enough to realize that what hurts you can also hurt others. That’s going to help you in your growth, just as much as it’ll help you leave people that refuse to change anything uncomfortable about them. After all, one’s thorns are another’s cushions.
But let’s get to the best part of this. Once you shave away more of the people that don’t vibe with you anymore, especially in hot socio-political topics, you’ll train yourself to tune into the love that you genuinely feel from people that see who you are. More so from ones that knew who you were, and celebrate the light that’s coming from you now, versus the clouds you mired yourself in for so long.
Okay, that last part, while poetic, isn’t too far off from what someone will tell you. But you have to go through some things that even I can’t stand recalling before that happens.
You’re going to love your new tribe, as well as the remaining old ones. The ones that make you feel like that you’re not only somebody, but someone better than who you were. Because for their own reasons, they’re doing, or already have done, the same thing as you.
We still have more to go. I hope you’re ready.
TW: Domestic Abuse, PTSD
Not too long ago, I learned about a thing called “trauma bond.” You’ll need to read more about it, but the best way I’ll describe it now is when you have a link to something that you know hurts you, but you find a repetitive, twisted sense of comfort from it. Often it’s inspired by your environment, the people that raised you that will explain why you have the friends you do, and get attached to similar love interests longer than necessary, or at all.
It’s because you don’t know how to say “no,” because you grew up in a world where “no” was an answer reserved for the Sources, which in your case are our parents, without challenge. People that will gaslight you into submission, all part of their habit of turning your “no” into a “yes,” then claiming that they love you after you’ve met their demands.
They also get a kick out of dismissing your feelings to flex their ego. You’d have to be hospitalized to have an excuse to not be of any kind of service, the type you’re occasionally forced to care about.
These are the people that you will come to learn that you’ve mimicked in certain ways, with connections outside of them.
You’ll even wonder, “why am I almost dating the same hurtful people?” “Why am I so quick to make friends I feel aren’t right, but ignore that feeling only to regret it later?”
Because it’s what you’ve known to be love in all of its forms, even when it’s not exactly like the examples I said. It resembles it in a way that feels right for so long until you’ve had enough. Not just of the patterns and the people that held them. But of the Sources of that attachment.
Repeatedly, they will show you they refuse to change, and will kick and scream about being a victim while sprinkling in some mess about their mortality. You know, the classic “what if I die,” complete with some latent acting talent to break their voice up to imply tears. They’ll do that hard until you (re)subscribe to their claims of being a “hero.”
Real heroes don’t make you believe they are one, just to avoid judgment of their sins. Real heroes hold themselves accountable and improve on their faults. Not use others they claim to love as punching bags for their insecurities.
These so-called heroes will also claim you’re comfortable in the things they provide you, when in reality it’s a way to buy your silence about their true natures. Ones that you won’t see change, unless it’s for the worst.
And they love doing it when no one else it around, or when they think they’re not being recorded. Luckily, your state recognizes “One Party Consent.”
Just know that the anger you feel towards them is real, justified, and deserves to be shared without their control or consent. But believe it or not, you’ll learn how to do it so they can’t come after you. Or by the time they do, it’s too late.
Because you’ll grow up to be a person who would never disguise a transaction as a birthday gift.
You won’t tell someone to not tell another that a big check is coming for you, then go behind their back to tell that other person, just so they ask for a cut.
You won’t be someone who sits by as the lover that nearly beat you to death in your own bed, stalks the rest of your family with harmful intent.
You won’t snap on someone for stating they’re surprised you’re still with a person who abused them in similar ways to their last partner.
You won’t ask someone, including your child, how much they’re making every time they get a new job, or ask for the house address of a friend just so they can look them up on GPS for no reason.
You won’t be the type of parent to guilt trip your child about going on a honeymoon, or not put a single cent into their wedding.
You will be better. Better than their mistakes and your own.
Meanwhile, they will feel and fear the change, and in their own ways, declare it to be their enemy. Just like they have and will in person.
But in time, they will respect it. Or not.
That’s their fight. You’ll win yours.
I’m warning you now that this is where things will take a darker turn, but know that I’m holding your hand along the way. Because it deals with death.
The idea of yours.
Despite what I said the end of the last entry, entertainment wasn’t the only thing keeping you alive. It was the fear of the unknown. The fear of being found by any of your family members on the floor, or even in your room after not hearing from you for days. You’re not even fully open about these feelings until you meet someone that will have their own entry later.
But you are no stranger to the thought. It’ll creep in throughout the years in different ways for different and repetitive reasons.
The biggest ones are that you feel as if no one around you is worth sharing this with. You have been frequently disappointed at most people’s lack of being told things in confidence, and that’s a fact which is a lot closer than you think and yet to know.
The rage felt towards this will add up, and you’ll find any other way to vent properly. And it’s going to be a long time before you consider going to a therapist.
“Opting out” is something that will affect you on the outside as well. One person’s choice to end will mean more to your beliefs about this than anyone. Yet, it doesn’t stop those thoughts from happening. The circumstances leading to that choice can vary, but those fears I mentioned are enough to think differently. For a time.
But there will be joyous reasons to stick around too. Things that will make the happiness you have now pale once compared to what’s coming.
But before that comes, know that you deserve the right to be heard without judgment, or to not have any of your words used against you later.
You deserve a hug from people that you know won’t hurt you. People that will correct themselves when they’ve done you wrong.
You deserve to be listened to by people that aren’t eager to speak after, or against you.
You’ll find them through a healthy mix of cut-offs, whether or not you do it first. And you have a long list of them to go. Who you’re linked with now won’t be with you for long.
But you deserve to be safe, and to not have triggers by the endless possibilities between the Sources. And they are the reason you feel, and will always feel the need to have their potential cut-offs be the most significant ones of all.
Childhood memories can be interesting. For you, it’s been about the cartoons, a few live-action shows, and visiting one of your cousin’s houses to play video games. All the fun in any arcade you can get into, now in the comfort of your own home. It takes a while before you struggle to call it that, but before we get there, let’s continue the smiles.
Drawing can be fun. You were a fiend for drawing ones of certain fandoms, particularly some half-shelled heroes I wish I could joke about them not surviving the 80s.
The same cousin that brought you into the home console world will remind of you of the days you’d make sound effects with your toys. It’s a thing any kid can do with them, but you’ll see how essential it’ll be to larger creative worlds. Worlds that will unknowingly help you escape the discomforts of reality, in and outside of the so-called home.
There’ also a core memory about marshmallows that may as well have been the catalyst for your sense of humor. It’s one that also gets carried into your siblings, to which their perfection of it enhances yours as well. It’s helpful in even the most uncomfortable situations. Like the beginnings of the parental separation. You were providing enough jokes to drown out the sounds of one’s tears over another’s selfish behavior. But it takes time before you’re all in a place to get away from it for good.
And you’re in a season where you’ve come back, after two years of some level of peace from that place. It’s a volatile time, because the inner child has yet to heal, and the adult has yet to learn how to do it.
This is especially true for those times you feel you failed as an older sibling. Not protecting one from a now-former friend’s “playful” gestures which earned you the type of reprimand that could have killed you, if not cause permanent brain damage. And not that it’s a complete excuse, but they did not build you to fight back against anyone that hurt you, or the people you love.
That isn’t your fault.
You were mostly raised to believe that acts of oppression are best to bend to, never challenged. That rebellion against the Sociopath Empire is best left to space wizards and Saturday morning cartoon heroes. Why else were you often literally told to “shut up” by people far too hurt by even a hint of truth that you spoke?
But you’ll learn that staying in a child’s place is not a good fit for adults carrying emotional weight. That every realm of artistic expression wasn’t and never will be in vain. All the media that you hold on to are for more than just connecting with people that will soon, or still mean the world to you.
They were part of the reasons you stayed creative. You will still be in a HUGE way. Those worlds allowed you to enter ones safer than the real one, evil creatures considered in most.
But they also kept you alive. A fact that has been and will be challenged often in your later years.