Dear Peter,

Please, please read this no matter how stupid you think it is or how many times you roll your eyes. I’m sorry it’s so HUGE and overwhelming…But I write to attempt to make sense of things…so please try to get through it all. For my sake and yours, please give my heart a chance. I know I haven’t told you how I really feel…because there is such a weakness inside of myself that I’m so afraid of showing to you…but if I can’t show you myself then how can you should me you? I love you. Wholly and deeply. I knew it that first night. I don’t know why and I don’t know how, but love comes so easily for me…and never seems to leave me. Ever. Know this…no matter what…I will always, always love you. I truly think that love is eternal…and you can hide it and squash it and stuff it under your sleeve but it will always be there in some form or another. I think you are a strong, intelligent and wonderful person and I love you innately, abstractly and inexplicably. I know I scared you when I said I loved you that first time we had sex…but I felt so free and strong with you…so I had to say it…and love is simple. Love is instinct. And I felt it immediately with you. And I have felt it ever since. I see this beautiful, beautiful person inside you…which is why I call you beautiful, sorry if it’s not masculine enough. I see it deep within your eyes…and I see it everyday…I wish you could see what I see in you. You are kind and gentle and caring. You are strong and smart and independent. When you talk…I want to listen…and when you smile I want to stare…and when you hold me I want to melt into you. I love you. And you are perfect just the way you are. And I don’t mean that in a shallow way…I mean that deeply. And I’m not saying any of this in some self serving way…I’m saying this because I think you need to know. So that maybe you can see the beauty in yourself that I see. And the fact that you can’t assures me that you do in fact need time. I know you need time. And I don’t know how much time or what kind of space you need…I don’t know how you’ll get it…but if you’re going to do this…you need to commit to it…make the most of your time…take your time…but really try to see yourself through different eyes. I’ll give you all the space you need because I love you so much…but please don’t waste my heart.

So I guess this is a love letter…I’ve always wanted to write one. Wonderful.

I’m sorry I can’t be what you want from me. I’m sorry it takes me so long to change. I really am. I’m sorry I leave my stuff in your room and I’m a mess…there’s no excuse for it. I just feel at home with you and I try very hard to grab hold to that feeling of home. And I’m sorry about Grace. Well no…I’m not sorry…because I couldn’t help how I felt. And you can’t either…and I can’t tell you what to do…and I understand where you’re coming from…but I’ll stand by what I said that I don’t think it’s healthy for anyone involved. You don’t have to cut her out completely…just try to let go. Just try. Or not. Whatever. It’s your life, not mine. But you only have one life and I don’t want you to live it feeling tied down and trapped. I want you to be free and unafraid. Honestly.

You don’t need to find yourself. You don’t need to take a huge journey…you just need to start. I’m sure the process will take years…maybe your whole life…I feel like I wake up for the first time all the time. Just don’t take yourself so seriously. Learn to let yourself go.

Don’t expect it to be easy. It’s messy and dirty and hard and not even close to linear. But no matter if it takes you a week or a month or a year…I’ll be here for you.

Make the most of your time. And make the most of being single.

Actively try to change.

Talk to your mom. Talk to Grace. Talk to me. Talk to Dan. Talk to a counselor…there’s some here. (Personally I hate them) Or write it down and delete it. Or write it down and send it to me. Just don’t keep it bottled up…and don’t keep going over it in your head. Don’t over analyze it. Let go. Go for long walks. Get lost in the woods and try to find your way back. Just spend some time with yourself. Sit in silence for hours and see what you hear. Listen to music. A lot of it. Different kinds. I’ll make you TONS of mix tapes if you want them. Make art. I’ve got tons of paint if you want them. Graffiti with me. Rebel. Make some new friends. Change the pattern. Get out of the room. If video games help to clear your head…play them…but don’t get stuck it a rut…keep moving. Explore Philly…it’s a great city. Have sex with other people. Flirt for fun. Go to the Buddhist meditation…or take me with you. Meditate on your own. Go to your dark places…don’t be afraid of them…they’re not as scary as they seem…and I know they seem terribly dark and terribly domineering…but you’re a whole person…not a fractured piece…no matter how hard it seems…you are not alone. I’m going to be here for you always. Call me. Write me. Just talk and whisper and scream and yell at me for hours and I won’t say a word if you don’t want me to I’ll just listen. I promise. Come fuck my brains out if it helps. We can go shopping if you want. And we can go on walks again when the weather gets warmer. There was a time when you said it was easy to talk to me…that’s how everything started…we just talked and talked for hours. I know I had such an urge to fix you that I became cliche and repetitive because I don’t think I fully realized the extent of the problem…if it’s as bad as you make it out to be….then I can’t fix you by myself…but I promise if you give me a chance to open up I can be there in ways for you you haven’t even seen yet…And in the old ways that made you fall in love with me.

It took me a while to realize that I can’t fix you. But you also don’t have to be so strong. You don’t have to do it all alone…I can’t give you your answers but I can try to point you in the right direction…I know I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am on my own…I took inspiration from everything I saw and from everyone I knew.

And don’t convince yourself you’re broken or faulty. I have a well of problems and complexes I haven’t even opened up. Everyone does. And I know sometimes it’s comforting to wallow in your sorrow…but sometimes it helps to know that we’re all human. I work on myself everyday…and I will for the rest of my life…and I hope you will too. I hoped so much that I could help you work through this…that we could learn to mend each other…but if you feel you need to do it alone then I completely understand. But just know you can’t do it all alone. But trust yourself. And listen to yourself. Maybe you’re just hiding behind this wall of depression to keep yourself from something…or maybe you are genuinely depressed…I don’t know…I can’t tell you…but don’t just jump to depression as a mask to hide behind…you are so much more than that. And don’t convince yourself you can’t feel…the happiness you felt with me was true happiness in some facet or another. And don’t focus so much on happiness. Happiness is not the end goal. Everyone puts SO much importance on happiness. That’s bullshit. There is so much beauty in sorrow. Don’t feel like you’re not winning if you’re not happy…or you’re not healthy if you’re not happy. It’s all your perspective and your world. Beyond anything else you just need to change the way you see the world and yourself. You are who you are. Just try opening your eyes a little wider. And don’t fall behind the ruse of depression every time it gets hard. When I was going through my tough time…Ms. Ohm wrote me a letter and something she said always stuck with me:

“If you visit the beach, vigorously write all your fears in the sand, so that the tide may wash them away, and when you review the year, honor them- but pay no homage to them- see them for what they are, and only travel to those dark places- don’t stay there, gravitate toward the light.”

I’M SORRY this is like a barrage of cliche, repetitive and preachy self help quotes. I’m sorry. But at a certain point…there is some beauty in it. And I think you need it right now. But I don’t know…maybe this isn’t what you need at all…I have no idea what you need…but right now it’s what I have to give to you…and this is all I have. And I’m not trying to sound like I’ve got it all figured out…I DON’T. I’m just trying to reach out in whatever way I can.

So I’ve enclosed a few things to hopefully help you get through this…or something of that sort…some of them you’ll probably hate…but it’s the thought that counts…and I hope you can put aside your judgment and at least give some of them a chance.

The first is Notes to Myself…my favorite book. I found it in a used bookstore one day by chance…read it…and it changed my life. If you don’t read anything else I give you…PLEASE read this one. It feels like it was written for you…everything I’ve been trying to say…it’s in there. And it’s beautiful.

PostSecret. I know you love it…and I know you’ve already read it…but reread it and find some comfort in the darkness that lies within ALL of us. And if it helps you…write some of your own secrets down and throw them into the wind.

The Idiot’s Guide to Awakening your Spirituality. My dad gave this to me for my 17th birthday. It became a family joke…I was so offended by it…but then I jokingly read it…not that I’m saying it imparted any wisdom…but it did get me started. Laugh at it a little…this whole process doesn’t have to be so serious.

Finding God in a Tangled World. I don’t really like this book…it’s mostly just preachy bible quotes…but who knows maybe you’ll find something in it.

Ten Eternal Questions. SUPER cliche. But there’s some beauty in it. I don’t know if everything cliche is inherently bad.

Buddha’s Little Instruction Book. Hey, I don’t know…the Buddha’s pretty cool.

Love is an Attitude and These Are My Christmas Wishes for You. Horrible literature. Really bad. But sometimes you just need a boost of confidence and an injection of hippie love.

The Heart of God. I don’t think I’ve actually read this one hah. But it’s poetry and prayer…you might like it or you might hate it. Check it out.

And I had a few books on Taoism but I can’t find them…but Taoism is really good. Delve into that. It’s good good stuff. And hah, I really do have A LOT more books like these if you want them. And I LOVE poetry. Sometimes poetry is the only thing that makes sense to my cluttered mind. If you want poetry I’ve got TONS of it. I just didn’t want to overwhelm you with nonsense. I know this is ALOT I’m throwing at you. I’m sorry. Just go with it.

My necklace. To remind you what you’ve lost.

And my xanga. It’s: http://www.xanga.com/aninnocentbanjo (shocker, eh?) It’s my diary. Literally the past 5 years of my life are there. It’s horrible and it’s raw and embarassing…but it’s all of me. A part of me I don’t think I’ve let you know yet. Maybe it’ll help to read…maybe it’ll make you hate me…I don’t know….but I’m not holding anything back anymore. You don’t have to read it…at all…I’m just putting all of myself out there. If you want to read it and it says that it’s on privacy lock just ask me and I’ll unlock it for you.

And one thing I haven’t given you…but will if you want it. It’s my absolute most personal possession. My bible. Or…a bible I wrote when I found my God. I carried it around with me all summer and anytime I felt inspiration I took it out and wrote it in. No one even knows I ever wrote it. It’s a little tiny book and mostly nonsense…but if you want to read it it’s there for you.

And don’t think by these books I’m saying that spirituality or religion is the answer. It is certainly not the answer for me. It’s just the journey inward that’s important. Mostly I just didn’t think you would ever look at these kinds of books on your own…and I thought it was a nice excuse for you to look at something you wouldn’t otherwise…and you can blame it all on me. But hah I feel the same way…no one knows I own these kinds of books…not even my mom…I always bought them in secret.

You don’t have to show these things to anyone…You can wrap them up in a box and hide them away…if Dan asks why you have these stupid books just blame it on me or say they’re for philosophy class…or you can just give them right back…or you could just read them and see how much you hate them. Or try to find something, anything in them. And NOT that I’m saying books are going to solve all your problems…I don’t know…just something to get the wheels spinning. Or just fuck it all and sit in your room. Just don’t think that by doing the same thing you’ve been doing for six months you’re going to find some truth.

I have to tell you though…you’re already halfway there. The fact that you made a stand and chose to move on by yourself was a HUGE step in itself. I really am really proud of you…and while it was really hard for me and I didn’t make it too easy for you…I understand that it’s the right thing. It really shows a lot of maturity on your part…knowing that you need to change is one thing…but actually acting on that knowledge is a completely different thing. You’re already on your way.

I’m not trying to sound like a shrink…I’m just being honest.

Please, if nothing else, read Notes to Myself. It’s perfect for you. But at the same time…don’t try to find my truth…find your truth.

Or just don’t listen to any of this. I mean that seriously…not condescendingly. You have to do it for yourself. Take your time. But you just need to know that I’m here for you if you need me. I’m right down the hall. And I love you dearly. You’re not alone. Just try out your wings…I’m pretty sure you can fly, you just haven’t jumped yet.

Happy Valentine’s Day. If you want to come talk to me tonight…I’m here.

Love always and forever,

Lauren.

P.S. I love you.

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