I wish I could warn you. You don’t have to fear them. They are made of flesh and bone, just like you. They can’t control everything, even though they try so hard you believe it. One day you will realize they are fragile. You are strong. You can snap them into pieces with your words. You will bite your tongue. You will keep your distance.
I wish I could warn you. Keep your siblings close. They are the only ones who know what it’s like. Embrace them. Enjoy their company while you can. Love them. Knit memories together with tears and laughter. Wear it like a cape.
I wish I could warn you. You are going to be lonely. The kind of lonely that fills you up so much, you are filled with a deep, dark void. You will feel like you are drowning. You will seek help. You will cringe thinking about you, you, you. Writing these words will feel strange, twist your insides so much, you will eat a pint of ice cream. You will be okay.
I wish I could warn you. You will feel ashamed. You will feel small. You will feel worthless. You are free to love who you want. You are free to be yourself. You are free to love yourself.
I wish I could warn you. You use anger as an outlet for all emotions. How could you not? It’s all you know. You will resent your anger for a long time. You will wield it as
a weapon to keep people at bay. You will plunge it into the hearts of everyone close to you. You will drive people away. You will regret.
I wish I could warn you. You will fall in love easily, quickly, painfully. It will be bliss. It will consume you whole. It will give you meaning and direction. It will blind you. It will hurt you.
I wish I could warn you. You will fall out of love easily, quickly, painfully. It will hurt so much. How can you hold onto love when you’ve never been taught how? How can you trust others? How can you trust yourself? You will wonder if you will ever find someone. You will wonder if you need anyone else. You will build a cage around your heart. You will drape the cage with barbed wire. You will set the cage on fire.
I wish I could warn you. You are brave. You have been through so much unspeakable sadness. You don’t have to justify your past, your actions, what others have done to you. You don’t have to tell anyone if you don’t want to. You will live one day at a time. You will feel sometimes (most of the time) how pointless life is. You will trudge on anyway, you brave girl.
I wish I could warn you. You won’t be the person you thought you would be. You’re so much better than you could have ever imagined. You will travel the world. You will follow your dreams. You will take risks. You will love. You will be loved. You will be human. You will make mistakes. You will be free.
Tiffany Grimes is proud Hufflepuff and crazy cat lady. She earned her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Hamline University. Her fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Feels Blind Literary, Meat for Tea: The Valley Review, Microfiction Monday Magazine, and The Fiction Pool. She lives in Portland, OR with her two cats.