This piece mentions self-harm in detail and uses mature language. Please use your discretion.
Burning is her friend.
After reading the Bible and feeling turned down. After her car fails. After she remembers how much debt she has. It’s a physical manifestation of her deepest pains; when everything hurts inside, it’s always there for her.
She sees herself following in her parents’ footsteps. She’s poor. She has terrible insurance, lives in a place that’s too expensive, and buys things she can’t afford. She’s poor and believes she always will be.
She is my friend.
After nights of watching people we’ve never met get baptized. When she lets me know she got home safe. When she doesn’t hesitate to make me food because I’ve been struggling all day with my appetite. When I’m at my worst and she never thinks twice about being there.
She is filled with ambition and passion. She’s creative and savvy, pushing the boundaries with her limited finances. She wants more than the life her parents have shown is possible and is always striving to find the path to get there.
She wonders if she made the right decision going to college. She hates school—waking up too early and too tired to go to class, only to come home with more. She feels guilty relaxing for even a moment, knowing she wants fulfillment but she can’t afford school without working three jobs. She’s stuck. The cycle leaves her feeling trapped, breaking her down to feel helpless.
She texts me when class goes well. The joy in her voice is heartwarming. She overachieves, writing multiple page answers for a response the requires a few paragraphs; it’s obvious to her professors that she cares. She knows the value of feeling fulfilled, looking for it in the smallest of ways. She exemplifies pursuit, even in the face of adversity that would tear down the strongest of hearts.
She’s a piece of shit, a sinner. She’s an alcoholic and an addict. She’s gay. She’s anxious. She’s angry. So fucking angry.
She’s broken and abused, medically frail with no hope of recovery. She’s better to just leave. She’s better forgotten.
She’s afflicted and torn. She carries with her scars that run deep and a heart surrounded by walls higher than any border. She is broken and on an endless pursuit to learn what’s right and what’s wrong. She feels alone and different, but she is not an outcast. She is not alone in her struggles and in her sins. She, too, is saved. She is free to love whomever she chooses. Her presence is a gift to every room she is in, the joy and passion in her voice a source of light to others’ eyes.
Her mom was young and didn’t want to be a mother. Her mom didn’t love her father and thought someone else was her sister’s dad. Her parents were barely married before her birth and divorced soon after. They hate each other. They hate the qualities of each other they see in her. They blame her for their anger.
She is beloved by the Father. He gave her a heart that seeks eternal joy, a sense of comedy that creates the loudest of laughs, and an ability to care that is unmatched. She was always part of the plan. His love for her grows faster than she can send praise and He forgives her faster than she can express regret.
If Heaven has a reservation list then her name is etched in pen.
She feels forgotten by her loved ones, left to eat at the neighbors. Her family doesn’t care enough to ask about her friends—if she has any. Or about her boyfriend—if she has one. Or about her jobs—she has three, after all.
She’s the kind of person that people look up to; she’s the kind of person that people pursue when they need advice. She is valued, and without her, the world would be lacking.
Her friends want to spend time with her, to laugh with her, to cry with her, and to sit in silence with her. They are aware of her struggles and want to help. They have ringers set for midnight phone calls and respond to untimely texts. They seek to adventure through life with her, even if the journey leads simply to the couch to watch Netflix.
She is sad. She is abused. She is frail. She is forgotten. She is a piece of shit. She is worthless.
Her path has been treacherous but she is the strongest person I know. Her success is not limited to her knowledge or physical ability but made more impressive by her fragility. Her drive is built on her upbringing and the desire to no longer live the way she was raised. She loves because she knows what it feels like to live without it. She empathizes because she too is afflicted. She listens because she knows what it’s like not to be heard.
She is a diamond in the rough destined for the most beautiful ring.
Burning is her friend.
But she is my friend, too.
Alex Milner is a recent college graduate and writes independently. You can connect with Alex on Instagram at @alexander_milner.