Dear 8-year-old me,
You are so young, so little. You are confused, so confused, about everything in your strange and scary world. You don’t actually know the seriousness of what you keep thinking about and trying. I don’t know what else to say to you, but if I could, I would hold you. I would shower you with the affection and care for you with the attention you deserve. I would see you.
Dear 10-year-old me,
You are more serious now. Your friends know. You try right in front of them, but they don’t seem to take any notice. You are beginning to hurt, from the inside out. You are more confused and scared more often. You still don’t understand enough to complete it, but it frightens me now to think of what you did.Repeatedly. I wish I could hold you in front of me, look you in the eye and say, “Stop.” But what would I say after that? I wish I could take you away, somewhere safe, away from all the destruction you are enveloped by every single day.
Dear teenage me,
You are overwhelmed. Your pain and confusion is clouding your vision and your body is starting to detach so you do not have to feel. No one knows your thoughts, actions or your fantasies that soothe you to sleep. Many know the abuses you suffer or at least suspect something is seriously wrong in your life. Yet, those with the power to assist you turn a blind eye or, worse yet, accuse you of lying. Then, the latter abuse you too. I just don’t know how to help you. Is it enough that I see you?
Dear undergrad me,
Your life is even worse. How is this possible? I don’t know how you are still alive. Even without the contemplation of suicide, you are so beaten and neglected, surely your body should fold. You are now fully detached, and your mind is determined. You claim you are too scared to take your life because it would make you a bigger “failure.” Hear me and believe me. You are not, and have never been, a failure. You have, however, been continually abused by so many people in so many ways throughout your life that all I want to do is hold you until you scream and cry.
Dear graduate me,
You are in pure survival mode. You’re so desperate for the love and protection you never felt that you are attracting further abuse, but I am proud of you. You sought help. You realized something wasn’t right inside, and you asked for professional help. Not only that, but you stood fast when two of your abusers found out and accused you of attention-seeking, ungratefulness and then didn’t speak to you for more than a week. You are so strong, even though I know you don’t feel it. I admit I don’t feel it even now. Yet, I know it is true because here we are.
Dear postgraduate me,
You are scared of being found out and stigmatized, and the one person you trust and love does not support you in your illness. You have been introduced to trains, use them regularly and they are now your fantasized method. Yet, you know you will not act. Thank goodness, you will never act. In time, this ideation will subside, though it still hasn’t stopped completely. Meanwhile, I still see you.
Dear me, right here, right now,
You have fought many more battles. Your body has begun to rebel. It cannot take the pressure any more. You are just starting now to relearn how to feel, to reconnect with your subconscious mind and your ailing body. It is confronting and at times overwhelming, but you are strong and brave, even if you often perceive yourself as falling apart. You are now seen. Do not be afraid to reach out to those who care. They are not the same people who have abused you and your trust before. Prioritize your well-being and assert yourself for its benefit. I know it does not come naturally to you, but it is the right thing to do. Above all, hear this: You deserve to live.
By Victoria Churchill at themighty.com