To all of the people I’ve ever loved:
Thank you for giving me the parts of yourselves that you hid from the world. Thank you for letting your vulnerability meet mine, in that space that never felt safe, and for hugging me so tight. Thank you for the way you couldn’t control your laugh when you were self-conscious and for the times you said my name, when I had no idea who I was or who I’d become. You helped me to love the world, to see things in ways I hadn’t before, through eyes I loved as my own.
To those who hurt me, know this. I do not blame you. It's a hard thing, this becoming. When I was phony, I would alter and become someone or something else at the first sign of your criticism. But this, becoming the me that I cannot take off, feels so raw and inevitable that covering up is pointless. I had to let you go, because I couldn't let myself go. Not anymore. You loved a phantom and never me. But that's not your fault. Not really. I never gave you any part of me to love.
To those who love me still, I know I was reckless, and difficult. Manipulative and cruel sometimes. I know there were times when I couldn’t feel anything and times when I couldn’t stop my heart from breaking for even one minute. I am sorry for the words I threw at you when I wanted you to hurt like I was hurting. For the way the booze hid me and set me free at once, and for all of the damage that caused. For all of the things we couldn’t give each other because we just didn’t know how.
Thank you for fighting for me in those moments when I couldn't fight for myself. For picking me up when I had driven myself as low as I felt. For smiles that crinkled the corners of your eyes and the looks of concern that did the same.
I love each and every one of you. I am grateful for each and every one of you, because you brought me here. You saw the parts of me that were lovable before I ever could, and you protected my flame with your hands when it was small and so damn fragile. Know that I will forever be grateful for you.