1. You are a tangle of past lives and defense mechanisms. Breathe.
2. When your grandfather says you have lightning in your hair and in your heart, those are not words of condemnation – they are a quiet battle cry for the warrior to be. He will forget these things in time, but you will not.
3. Every time a man comes close enough to touch you, you will question what it means to love and be loved by a lover and what it means to be a mother, because what you’ve seen could never serve as an adequate cookie cutter. Growing up and growing out from your soiled roots will not be easy, but listen to the words of God when He tells you, “Daughter, let the sun take its time to shine.” Acid rain will come your way, and with a naïve heart you will drink your fill, but we are so much stronger than the mistakes we’ve made.
4. You have been a politician, a mathematician since the day you were born, manipulating and calculating equations and conversations, like how to love Mommy without Daddy finding out. You are a chameleon girl, and you are destined to lose yourself so far into your surroundings that you can’t even recognize the beat of your own heart. I cannot offer a clean route through this maze, but I can promise you that you will never find your heartbeat singing within the walls of someone else’s ribcage. Love yourself.
5. You came into this wicked world with a writer’s mind, and you are only as sick as the secrets planted underneath your skin. Exorcise your demons and understand that sometimes broken pieces come into your life solely so you can write them off and let them go.
6. The next two years will hurt like hell, but you will learn not to settle for a man who asks you if you are manic every time he sees you smile, a man who will tell his friends that your depression lessened your worth as arm candy, a man who will beg you to cover your scars so that no one would think for a minute he brushed lips with insanity.
7. A week after your first kiss, he will promise you he isn’t going anywhere. That will be a lie. The summer will be an angry, stormy swelter, and from 300 miles away, your name will never be twisted around his tongue. Even when he comes back, he will still not be coming back. He not yet knows home, and that is no fault of your own. Let him go.
8. You will paint yourself blue like the love poems you’ve been tearing from your chest, sinew and tissue dripping from every last word you write. You will confess your love for him in verse, and he will confess his love for you (and all the other girls) in drunken texts at 3am. Keep writing.
9. When he tells you, “I miss you,” he will mean that he misses you as if you were but one songbird in the chorus of the forest whose silence will soon be drowned by the beating of wings and the humming of bees and melodies of lovelier things. When you tell him, “I miss you,” you will mean that you miss him like an alcoholic misses her bottle, like a schizophrenic misses her sanity, like a cutter misses her razor. And the moment you realize this, you will wish you could find the edge of the earth and step off into a place of blackened ice and the thinnest air, just to breathe in something that he has never touched nor burned nor left behind. He will make you want to die. But you and I, we survive.
10. Never lose the faith that pushes the air to and from your lungs. You have welcomed wickedness into your life again and again and you are still becoming a better woman. There will be times when you feel so very alone, but there will always be Someone divine by your side.
11. In time, you will learn the meaning of the word “recovery.” You will learn that screaming scarlet scars won’t convince anyone to love you; they won’t even convince you to love yourself. And there, right there, you will find freedom.
12. The first time he held your hand, the snowflakes were tumbling through the early morning air; you know that snow is such a beautiful, wonderful, immaculate disaster, but when it fades away, there is nothing missing from this world. You were born with eyes the color of summer – do not settle for the bitter teeth of frostbite scraping against your skin.
13. You deserve loneliness before you’d ever deserve another day with him – and you do not deserve loneliness. I cannot tell you how long it will be until the pain subsides. There are still times when the dull ache shivers in my sternum, but I swear to you, solitude is not as bad as it seems.
14. Between these tides rushing in and out, “no” will become a word within your conceivable vocabulary, without hesitance, without regret, with bold and relentless selfishness. And I now know you well enough to promise you, you will learn that there are also things worth saying “yes” to, worth burning for, worth balancing (balancing) on the tips of your toes and stretching your arms to the sunrise sky that may only be a mosaic of streetlights. You will discover “yes” and you will discover “try,” and that will be enough.
15. When you decide to try again, you will find you’ve developed a habit of falling for the sleepy-eyed boy with his heart too far in the wrong places, the boy with a personality of a wildfire, the boy who calls his mom “mama” and his girl(s) “darling,” the boy who asks before he touches you, whether he means it or not. Let yourself fall.
16. You too often forget that the Author of the universe is writing you a greater love story, and He makes no typos, leaves no plot holes, and has the most satisfying sequel on the way. Each of your breaths He will punctuate with a semicolon; you are a sentence that keeps going. Perfectionist poet, just let your life be written.
17. You are becoming the kind of person whom therapists dream to create. Someday your mind will be a clear-cut reaction to the environment around it, and you will spend your therapy sessions joking and laughing instead of silently memorizing the patterns in the carpet. You will tell your doctor, “I feel like a real person now,” and she will laugh and tell you, “You always were.” (And maybe you’ll never tell her how it felt to have his fingers wrapped around your throat, but you’ve got inertia on your side and soon you’ll be more than able to leave those things behind.)
18. Time is the only evidence we have of perpetual motion, and perhaps it doesn't "heal all wounds," but it has certainly covered a number of self-inflicted scars and not-so-self-inflicted bruises. You will come to find that your mind is even more resilient than your body could ever strive to be.
19. Two years from now, a drunken boy will tell you you kiss like a fallen angel, and whiskey will slur your words when you whisper, “Because I learned from the devil himself.” But he won’t hear you, and you won’t repeat yourself. The past is in the past.
20. You have been gifted with this life. You are alive. And your only responsibility in this world is to stay alive. Breathe.