A Letter To My 13 Year Old Self

Dear 13 year old Katie,

I wish I had a lot to say to you, but the truth is I don’t remember you clearly. The picture I have of myself at the age of thirteen is blurry at best. I think it’s because you’re having such a hard time, and you feel as though you can’t tell anyone. You feel like no one really cares. So you lock those feelings and memories up and throw away the key.

Seven years later, and I still haven’t been able to get in.

You have just been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, a chronic auto-immune disorder. This has caused you to mature very quickly, and I’m sorry to tell you that childhood for you is effectively over.

Over the course of the next year and a half, you will come to find that living with a disability that others can not see is a battle that you will need to learn to fight on your own. Your “friends” will leave you in eighth grade and this feeling of abandonment will plant a seed of fear deep inside of you.

I wish I could tell you that middle school is going to get better, because it isn’t. Soon your doctor will put you on a steroid called Prednisone in order to help you gain weight. Along with the weight gain you will experience: swelling of the face and hands; darker hair on your arms and upper lip; cruel, cruel bullying done to you by boys with nothing better to do than make a scared and sick girl cry herself to sleep at night.

People are going to feed off of the rush they get from tormenting you. Try your best to hold your head up high. I don’t know how you make it through, I just know that you do. This is the first time your strength begins to shine through.

I know that you’re scared. You still don’t have the proper medication to treat your illness at this point, and you’re getting sick all the time. Your parents, though they try their best to hide it, are scared out of their minds. You may doubt it sometimes but you are their entire world, and seeing you in pain – both physically and emotionally – is too much for them to bear.

They start having marital problems and this causes stress at home. Your cat, Lucy, your mom’s precious baby will get cancer and die. It is the first time you will experience loss, and the first time you feel inadequate in the eyes of your parents.

With everything mounting on you: the severe bullying, the tension in your friend group, the distance between you and your parents, your disease; you start to feel like a burden. Let me reassure you: you are not a burden to those who truly love you. 

Thirteen year old Katie, you are stronger than any super hero. Your strength will help you through and it will only continue to build as you get older. When you tell your story to people in the future, they will wonder how you made it through. They will gasp in shock over the things people said to you. Over things people did to you.

They will wonder how you carried on at just thirteen years old, when you were dealing with things that even most adults could not handle. They will wonder how you carried on when you were too scared to ask for help.

When I feel weak, when I feel like a burden, when I want to give up, I remember myself at thirteen years old. I remember how isolated and scared I was. I remember how much I blamed myself for things that were out of my control. I remember crying in the bathroom during lunchtime when none of my friends would let me sit with them. I remember a boy that I didn’t even know coming up to me in the hallway and asking if I had gained weight. I remember being shoved into a row of lockers. I remember boys in my math class laughing at me while I tried to focus on my graphs.

I remember looking at myself in the mirror and wondering why I was even bothering to go on. I remember trying to tell people I was in pain and not being able to find the words.

My mother tells me that the challenges we face in this lifetime are thrown at us because the universe knows we are strong enough to go on. Thirteen year old Katie, I know it may be hard to believe, but the pain you experience now will foster growth in your future.

I am able to face anything today because of the battles you fought and won. I am able to overcome obstacles with ease because you struggled. I am able to appreciate my health because you endured sickness. I am able to receive love because you felt undeserving of it.

People suck. Crohn’s disease sucks. Pre-teen girls are cruel to one another. Geometry is hard. But you will survive all of it. You will come out a stronger person on the other side.

I am so thankful for your struggle, thirteen year old Katie. I admire your strength and I know others did too. You are one badass thirteen year old, and I hope you carry that knowledge with you for the rest of your life.

Love,

Your 20 year old self

 

 

 

A Letter To The First Boy I Loved

Dear The First,

You were the first boy I fell in love with, and thankfully, you won’t be the last. Our love story was tumultuous at best; if you did one thing right it was keeping me on my toes. I never knew how you really felt about me. I never knew if our last conversation would be the last one we’d ever have.

My relationship with you was the longest relationship I’ve ever had with someone though, ironically, we were never actually in a committed relationship at all. For four years we were many things: friends, a summer fling, a flirtation, a question. But the one thing we were not was healthy.

This is because I was in love with someone with the inability to really, truly love me back.

You were magnetic when I first met you. You were attentive and kind. You were flirtatious. I was a year and a half older than you, and I thought somehow that made me special. I thought I was special because you made me feel special. You told me that I was perfect, I was everything you had been looking for and thought you would never find.

This was one of the ways you maintained power over me. Yes you would look at other girls, and talk to other girls, ask other girls to homecoming, but there was something about me. Something you couldn’t quite put your finger on. Well, I know what that something was: my innate and unwavering ability to trust and forgive you no matter what. The way no other girl would.

I’ve tried to figure out just what made me come back to you every time you hurt me. At first I thought it was just the fact that I was in love with you, but then I decided that I actually hated you so that wasn’t it. Then I thought I was just codependent but that wasn’t it either. It took me a long time to realize the truth: you were emotionally abusive.

You had this thing that you told another friend was the “push and pull method” of relationships and you liked to do this with me quite a bit. You would talk to me every hour of every day for a week, you’d pay me compliments, flirt with me, tell me every good thing I always wanted to hear from you. And then, suddenly, you would pull away. You’d ignore me. You’d be distant, cold and short. And just when I would start to give up and push you from my mind, you’d be back again whispering sweet nothings and making me feel special. After all, there was something about me.

This method of communicating worked in your favor, by tearing me apart. I began to crave what little affection you would show me. When you were pulling away, I would blame myself. I would eat away at myself bit by bit, ripping myself to shreds. I began to hate everything about myself. You wouldn’t talk to me because I was annoying and clingy, my hair was ugly, I was ugly, I was dumb, I talked out of turn, I was embarrassing, I was unworthy of love from anyone but especially from you.

We did almost date once. You called yourself my boyfriend, but only behind closed doors. You were quick to tell me that you loved me, but refused to love me in front of people. About three weeks in, you called it off over text. At that point you had been ignoring me for two days. You said we moved too fast and that you needed space. We didn’t talk for about a month after that.

From there our friendship ebbed and flowed. You would continue to push and pull away from me when you got too close. I would continue to chip away at myself. About a year after we first met, I fell into a pit of depression. I had never been depressed before and it was very hard on me.

I admit that I became a darker version of myself during this time. Things between us had been going well until suddenly you stopped coming around, and this time when I asked what I had done wrong and what I needed to fix you said you couldn’t come back until I fixed myself. You told me I was too negative, and that it was affecting you. You told me you couldn’t be around me.

And then, you started dating someone else, someone who was amazingly beautiful and smart. If she was Barbie, I was Raggedy Ann. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Saying that this was the reason I almost killed myself is giving you more credit than you deserve, but it is what pushed me over the edge. You have to understand that I thought you were my one great love. You were my one good thing and you chose someone else.

I started going to therapy and told myself, for the first time, that I was done with you. But as I started to get better, all I wanted to do was tell you. I wanted to show you that I had finally fixed myself for you. I wanted you to be proud of me. And you were. So proud, in fact that you began talking to me more, and more despite the fact that you were still in a relationship.

When you broke up with her in June, I thought that you were finally ready to choose me. We were spending more time together than we had before and you weren’t pulling away.

But then one night, not too long after your breakup, you texted me that you were dating someone new.

She was truly everything you had ever wanted. She was perfect. There’s just something about her, you said.

I tried my best to be happy for you. If the person that I was in love with was falling in love with someone else, then the least I could do was be happy for him. We slowly stopped talking, and I told myself for the second time that I was over you.

It seemed that no matter what cheesy “break up” ritual I did, I always went back to you in the end. I could burn letters and poems, erase texts, block and unfriend you but none of it would stop me from coming back.

While you were still dating this girl, you would flirt with me constantly. When we went mini golfing one night, you couldn’t stop embracing me and flirting with me so much so that our friends started to question your loyalty to your girlfriend.

I would sit up wondering why you wouldn’t just dump her and date me if you so obviously liked me. I could never figure it out and it drove me mad. I would scrutinize every action and every word, every expression. When I went to college, and started a relationship, I thought that I was finally done with you.

But, my girlfriend was just as distant as you had been. When she was ignoring me, I would turn to you for affection. When she ultimately cheated on me and we ended things, I started to entertain the idea of a relationship with you. We texted. We sexted. We were once again an almost, a question, a flirtation.

Over the summer, we hooked up a few times and it was truly awful. You are a terrible kisser. And yet, I was hooked. You were finally interested in me or so I thought. It didn’t take you very long to push me away again. And then come back. And then push me away again, further this time.

You wanted me mind, body, and soul over Christmas. Then you didn’t want me that way, just as friends. But then you wanted to hook up with me. Then you wanted to date me. And finally, three months ago, you told me that we couldn’t be anything and I finally realized that I didn’t want you in my life at all.

This time when I walked away from you I didn’t look back. We aren’t speaking now and I honestly wouldn’t want it any other way. You are manipulative, abusive, and arrogant. You think you are god’s gift to women when you’re actually more of a punishment than anything. And you know what? After all you’ve put me through, the only feeling that I can muster up for you is pity.

I pity you because I know that you won’t ever be able to find someone like me again. I pity you because you’ll never read this. You’ll never have the satisfaction of knowing how much you hurt me, and how much I’ve grown because of it.

I pity you because I am in love again, with a man who loves me back. I know he will love me loudly and openly and in ways that you never could.

I don’t regret my relationship with you. I only regret that I didn’t realize what a piece of shit you were sooner.

Despite everything, I really want to wish you well. I hope you never treat anyone the way you treated me for four years. I hope you carry this guilt and shame with you for the rest of your life.

And I pray to God that you finally learn how to kiss.

Yours never again,

Katie

 

 

A Letter To My Anxiety

My mental health has not been the best lately. That’s why many things I was once passionate about (for example, writing on this blog) have been abandoned for the past few months.

Usually when my various mental illnesses start rearing their ugly heads I do what any person with mental illness would do: I build a nice depression cave in my bedroom, camp out in front of my TV, and sleep a lot.

This isn’t healthy and at the age of twenty I think it’s time I start coping with my mental illness in better ways.

I’ve decided to write a few letters to my demons that have been haunting me the past few months. They’re personal, but they’re mine to share.

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16 Things I Learned In 2016

2016 has been without a doubt one of the most difficult years of my life. I think a lot of people would agree with me when I say that it kind of felt like 2016 was chaotic and mostly kind of sad.

All of the chaos aside though, this year has been one of extreme personal growth for me. I think that because this year was so hard in so many ways it forced me to put a lot of things into perspective.

Here are 16 things that 2016 taught me.

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A Letter To My 16 Year Old Self

In four months I will be 20 years old. Two decades.

This is an important year for me. Four years ago, I couldn’t see myself where I am today. Four years ago I didn’t have much hope.

My 16 year old self almost didn’t make it.

I wrote this letter for her. It’s extremely personal.

I like to think she’d be proud of the person she grew up to be.

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