To The Fourteen-Year-Old I Was.

I was prompted to write this after finding an unopened letter I wrote to myself at fourteen, at the end of a writing program during the summer of 2011. She wanted to know that she — I — we — turned out okay. This is what I want to say to her.

Your sophomore year will be hell.

I’m keeping it real. It’s gonna be hell. You will hate yourself and hate everyone around you. You will cry yourself to sleep. You will let her kiss you, even though you’re “straight.” (Side note: oh honey. She doesn’t matter. The rumors that follow do not matter. Don’t repress the shit out of your feelings. It makes for a weird couple weeks in college). You will let her keep kissing you, and you will not realize it, but that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach is a crush. You have a crush. On a girl. It’s okay.

You will cry in Mom’s VW bug in the school driveway and part of it will be because of that, but you will not ever say it out loud, to anyone, until you get to college. It will take almost two years of therapy for you to be totally okay with yourself and even then, your high school will loom over you, keeping you complacent. I know what you’re doing to yourself. You need a good cry and a hug and maybe some ice cream.

Mom and Dad love you. All of our family does. Your uncle is a toolbox, but you already knew that. He continues to be one, even today. Maybe even more so. Even though I am now, please don’t be afraid to be honest with Mom and Dad. There is literally nothing you could do to make them hate you. Mom keeps telling us in her letters. It gets annoying, honestly.

You will end up in therapy. You will cry in therapy. Sometimes you will not want to go, and sometimes it’s the only good part of your day. You will not end up on medication, though. You don’t realize it yet, and sometimes you forget even now, but talking about your feelings with someone — anyone — is a really cathartic thing to do. You are allowed to feel things. You think you aren’t, or you think they don’t matter or something but they do, goddammit, so feel them. Let them be ugly, let yourself be comforted because by the time you’re eighteen, people think it’s weird that you don’t like to be touched when you cry.

As for the more trivial stuff, you’d probably kick my ass. I don’t really play guitar all that much anymore. We weren’t very good to begin with. Those characters aren’t really kicking around anymore. You have their stories but you have Astrid and Sean and Max and Ingrid and they are so much more complex than the others. You’re still writing even though it’s not as much as you’d want. Writing gets hard, but that’s only because you get good. You’re bursting with stories. Tell them.

Also: Don’t go swimming in the pool after you get your nose pierced. Dye your hair after parents’ weekend. Get a job. Take a deep breath. You made it.