Dear 13-year-old,

One day, you’ll wake up, and you’ll be sad. Not about what happened about your past, really. Sadness about that is inevitable. You’ll be sad about what’s happening in your present, in your current moments. You’ll be sad, but you’ll be afraid to be sad.

You’ll sit in his office one day, ok, many days actually, his diplomas hanging on the wall, next to the bookcase on your left. To your right, pictures drawn by his daughter, inspirational quotes pinned to the bulletin board.

You’ll have a bulletin board in your office one day, you just don’t know that, yet.

Anyway, you’ll sit in his office one day. You can’t continue going down the path you’re on; you’re going to self-destruct, he’ll say with worry in his eyes, and concern in his voice. You have to stop running from whatever it is you’re running from. You’ve come so far.

One day, he’ll ask you what you’re running from, and because he’s your therapist, you have to be honest because you want to get better. You do. You want to be happy and healthy. So you’ll answer truthfully:

I’m running from the sadness.

You’re running from the sadness. You’ve been running from sadness for eleven years; actually, longer than that. You can’t remember when it started, but you know it was before your grandfather died. You briefly cried at his funeral, and then you pulled yourself together.

Pull yourself together, your sixth-grade teacher said in her black buckle loafers.

You’ve been pulling yourself together ever since.

One day, you’ll wake up, and the sadness you feel will be heavier than any sadness you’ve ever felt, heavier than the depression you’ve been living with for as long as you can remember, heavier than the hopelessness you haven’t felt in weeks.

The scariest thing about sadness isn’t crying in public. The scariest thing about sadness is the fear that you won’t be able to handle it. The tears will lead to something more. The sadness will lead you down the spiraling path that ends with you rocking in the corner of your room, trying to fight the voices in your head.

One day, you’ll sit in his office, doing a mindfulness exercise: place the thoughts on a leaf as they come and watch them float down the river. And as you do this, focusing on the moment you’re currently in, not giving the thoughts that enter your head the time of day, the sadness will return, and you’ll push it away like you always do.

It’s better to pretend to be fine than reveal that you’re hurting inside.

I can see it in your body language that you’re hurting, and you’re trying not to cry, he’ll say. You need to process these feelings as they come. Feelings are a normal part of life–everyone has them. But you, you seem closed off, afraid to open that box.

Pandora’s box. You’re afraid to open it because what if everything changes. What if you can’t turn the feelings off. What if people confuse your sadness with your depression.

One day, you’ll be sitting on the couch in the living room of your apartment, typing this blog post, dog snoring next to you, as tears stream down your cheeks because you’re hurting.

Not from the past because, yes, the past sucks, and you’re not quite sure you’re over it, yet. But because of your present. Because the present could be better, and you don’t know who to go to for help, and you don’t know who to talk to about the feelings that you’re feeling that your therapist promises are valid. Valid and normal. Normal and valid.

One day, you’ll be sobbing in your living room because you’re sad, and yet so full of hope, hope for the future, hope that it will all get better, hope that you’ve made it this far.

One day, you’ll feel the emotions you’ve been running from for so long.

It’s ok to cry, he’ll whisper gently. It’s ok to just cry.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: