The dust settled.

Over 102 miles, 5 hours, lunch, 2 houses, 2 schools, 1 track and field, and a frozen yogurt later: I feel sure I am supposed to be alive.

Just 4 months ago I was writing suicide letters to loved ones. “Dear [therapist name],” I started, but never could finish that one. Tears poured down my face as I wrote the others to immediate family members and very close friends—but I finished those ones, sure they were better off without me. I strongly felt I owed my therapist an explanation but when I’d go to write hers I began to feel so bad that what I was about to do was exactly what she was specifically trained in and trying to help stop me from doing and instead of finishing my last words, I would text her. Anything. Sometimes it was direct: I want to die. Sometimes not quite so obvious: 😭. Sometimes, I asked if she’d solve puns with me. All were my way of trying to keep my self alive.

Today, somewhere in hour 3 or 4, the haunting, unrelenting loneliness I’ve experienced many times before came rushing forward but it only stayed for a minute. Because she was there. Because I felt seen and heard and loved and physically comforted and verbally validated in spaces I created for myself as a child and prayed that would happen but never believed it would. Because all the shame that wanted to kill me was ever-so-present but left when I acknowledged it didn’t serve me. Loneliness doesn’t get to stay when I let safety and love in.

We drove 51 miles together, to my childhood home. I was nervous the whole way that some terrible memory would take center stage. That didn’t happen. Instead, I had a rush of happy and sad memories, and felt quite sad for little-me as I recalled all the places I used to go to cry or escape to, alone.

As we moved on to other important childhood places I began to feel like we were both holding the hand of little-me, walking, talking, stopping to cry, with her. I started to feel powerfully settled. I felt like it was ok—the best choice, even—to feel everything I was feeling. No punishments were coming or being avoided. No judgements. No wrong.

Just love.

I felt terribly sad and angry for the emotional abuse and neglect little-me endured. I felt angry I had to survive by engaging in an eating disorder that slowly took my life little pieces at a time and 4 months ago almost took the last piece of it.

Yet, there we were, both of us holding little-me, filling her up with safety and compassion. Overwhelmingly I wanted to fight with every piece of me that has been slowly put back together against all my demons.

I am worthy of living. Of joy. Of love.

“Dear [therapist’s name],” I want to live, help me live. We don’t have to fight so hard just to keep my head above water: I don’t want to die. I want to keep going. I don’t ever want to go back to the blackout of severe depression. Little-me deserves all the re-do’s and crying sessions and hugs, AND adult me does too. I want to fight for all parts of me.

The dust stirring inside from wanting someone trustworthy to walk with me through everything feels so settled.

And when it stirs again, I know exactly what to do: offer the parts of me that are hurting my own hand and if I need help holding on, [therapist name] will be there holding on too, as soon as she can.

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