To the person I was when my recovery began — this is an open letter to you. To the girl who is taking her still-healing arms and stretching them out to wrap around a wounded world, determined that no one should ever hurt the way she has.
My brave soul, you are beautiful as you light on fire with purpose. I can see you taking every single reason you have found to stay alive and casting them out at the vast night, where they scatter and blaze like stars. I see your courage. I see all the questions that remain.
I see you asking what it means if you encounter a darkness in another that your love can’t mend. I see you wondering what your worth is when the best of your brightness is broken and used by those who don’t know how to catch and safely hold all of your sparks like fireflies. And I see your guilt coming to question: Do I have any right to my wholeness when the ones I love haven’t found theirs yet?
There is this wild hope in you that the story of healing is always linear, always clean and clear, that rescue is as simple as a bedtime story told to ward off the monsters that lurk in the dark. That hope is human, and you are no less for having it. But a day will come when you’ll need to let it go. You’ll need to let it go so you can take the hand of the nuanced, many-chaptered story that is living your own recovery while simultaneously walking a journey with others.
Remember what mattered most to you in the dark: not the easy answers. Not the remote platitudes of a dream life. It was simply presence, the hands that took your torn wrists and turned them to the sky, letting them be seen exactly as they were. The best you have to offer others will never be a cure-all method, a one-size-fits-most fix. The best you have to offer will always be yourself.
And the way your heart is received says nothing about its worth. You will be misunderstood, just as you once misunderstood others in your own pain. You will hear words from the mouths of loved ones that come from the pain they wrestle with, not from their heart. You’ll learn to forgive instead of blame yourself. You’ll learn to weather this by accepting that we can do nothing, not even love others, alone.
Oh, my bright soul, you could never accomplish your own healing alone. Don’t let the fear trick you into believing that you alone have to accomplish someone else’s healing either.
What we fight for in recovery is not sacrificing our souls for each other, martyrs crushed by the weight of the darkest parts of another. What we fight for in recovery is the outcome where we all get well, where we live in the song and dance of giving and receiving hope, where we help each other learn what is ours to carry — and what is ours to let go.
No matter how much you heal, you will never be a savior. But you will be a star all the same, one shimmer in a galaxy that illuminates another’s road toward healing.