To Hannah in Dec. 2003,
I know what the world is to you now. It is dark and scary and utterly hopeless. Everything you dreamed and loved has been so cruelly snatched from you. You wonder if there's any way to get it back. And, if not, you wonder if it's worth it to keep living.
Well, I'll be blunt with you, because you don't need anymore BS right now. He's gone. He's really gone for good. Nothing you do or say will change that. Just trust me, the sooner you accept that, the sooner things will start to get better.
Oh, I know, they can't be better without him. But yes, they can. And they will. It's going to take time. It's going to be hard. But you are going to be surprised by your ability to endure hard. And then, one day, you will find yourself again--your real self, the one you changed and sacrificed to try to keep him. Your real self is beautiful. Your real self is strong. Your real self is what everyone around you can't help but love.
Someday (it's really not too far away, so keep that dress), you will find yourself quite by surprise in love with a man who is truly worthy of you. A man who will adore you and treat you better than you've ever known. He'll make you laugh, and listen to your thoughts, and always treat you gently. It will catch you by surprise, but one day you will realize he is the one. You can't envision any other right now, I know, but he's out there, even now being placed in the path you will follow, and when you get there, you'll see. Just keep going and get there.
What you're going through now is terrible, the bitter dregs of the worst cup. Drink it and carry on. You can do it. You are strong. And as you begin to heal, and you will heal, take the time to soak in the beauty around you. The world is beautiful. People are beautiful. Life is beautiful.
Forget, as quickly as you can, every lesson he ever taught you. People can be trusted. There are some nasties, as you're seeing now, but you would not believe how many people do and will love you if you just give them the chance. Love them back. Don't close off your heart, as I know you're trying to do. The pain seems unbearable, but you will survive it. Let it happen. Don't fight it. And while you're at it, stop fighting him--you can't win, and it will only hurt you more.
There is light ahead. There is a lot of life ahead. A lot of beautiful life. Some brutal moments, too. You will learn to call it "brutiful." Things will get simple. Things will get hard. Happy and sad. Breathtaking and impossibly frustrating. Life brings them both.
I won't tell you specifically what your life in the next ten years will bring. It's a whole lot of brutiful. And I'd hate to let the fear of the brutal scare you away from the beautiful.
For now, just keep breathing. Breathe in and out. Do both, consistently, with patience. Just breathe. And don't forget to eat. Mountain Dew doesn't count. In fact, just keep away from caffeine: your body doesn't like it. Spend a little more time in the warmth (right now that means someone else's house or on campus) and less time in the cold and dark. Don't be afraid of people; don't be afraid to share what you are going through. Forget what he said. Most people will instinctively wrap their arms around you to try to shelter you from pain and to lend you strength. You need that. You need good people. Learn that lesson well, because it will hold true for the rest of your life.
Oh, Hannah, I know it hurts. I know you hurt. I know the darkness is overwhelming. I know you're broken. I know everything that's happened. No it's not fair; it's not right. You will never be the same. You will emerge from this a different person. From this, you will know the beginnings of what it is to suffer.
But remember: breathe, eat, and let people love you. Breathe. Eat. Love. Breathe. Eat. Love.
There is joy ahead. I promise. Joy and love to make your heart burst with happiness, and swell to a size you'd never dream possible.
Scars remain. Inside and outside you will accumulate some pretty big scars. Sometimes you'll see them and wonder how you ever lived through that. But the thing about scars is--they're proof that you DID live through it. Scars remain, but they do fade, and eventually, they reach a point where they only hurt if you push on them. Some days you even forget they're there.
Breathe in. Breathe out. Let him go. Let yourself be loved. You are worth all the love. Still. Always.
- From Hannah in Dec. 2013