Life in a Letter - Riley Bushard

Dear twelve year old me,

I just want to warn you now is things are going to get wild in your life, the first time you drink that water bottle full of mixed alcohol from Mikaylas mom’s secret stash is going to be the first time you fall in love. If it was with her or the bottle you'll never know, and you’re going to deny it for seven years before you do anything. You have time to make yourself okay if you just start working now. You’re going to run away from home at fifteen, the hardest part if leaving without telling your brother. Five years later you still read over the note you wrote your sister, when she gave it back, your father's threats looming in the air, he has control of you even now.

You are not less for wanting to kiss girls, and you aren’t less because you’ve kissed boys. Living is harder in the closet, but it's scarier outside. You’ll be twenty before your comfortable to wear the carabiner of lesbian on your belt.

You’ll be in foster care in a strange state next summer, your mom is going to be arrested for meth. When your dad comes to get you, he’ll joke how you're an unwanted child. This is a red flag, take your grandfather's offer and live with him.

When you’re fifteen your best friend is going to find two men to rape you at a party, you need to report it right away. Don’t wait around, you’ll get two years of court with nothing but a restraining order and an Uber bill. Regardless, you’re going to make a report, and not be hauled into a title IX office drunk.

You’re going to try and kill yourself a month after moving to spokane when you’re nineteen, it’s going to cause you to get therapy and go to AA. You are going to feel better, but not perfect.

You’re going to listen to the advice of your teachers and counselors, take everything they say and ignore it. You’ve gone this far, don’t stop until you find the right person. Don’t accept what they give you, you’re better than that.

You’re going to feel unloved, hated, and alone. Sometimes you are all those things because the drinking makes you cruel and your childhood is designing you to be guarded. You won't know how to fall in love or look in the mirror after a shower. You won't be able too at twenty, but you’re getting closer. You can learn to love yourself. Stop making yourself puke, start eating again, quit talking to old men with bad intentions for you. You are worth so much more than that.

You won't know these things until we’re twenty and even then the dissociative history we’ve created won't be gone. We are real, despite what you believe. We are worthy, despite what we believe.

-From, Riley

P.s. We don’t go by Siena anymore, too many people have used that name to sin.


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