Dear 16 year old,

Dear 16 year old,

Sitting there, on the curb, outside the house I grew up in, in your lifeguard clothes, with a check in your hand that is ripped up and then taped together: today is a hard day.

Your father tricked you. He stole money from you. He took everything you worked all summer to earn. He told you the bank wouldn’t cash the check, but he would get it right back to you. The check isn’t real. The bank wouldn’t take the check. He lied. You aren’t getting the money back, that doesn’t matter. 

If the check isn’t real, what are you holding in your hands?
How can you let someone convince you it is?

Being deceived by a parent feels a lot like you are existentially wrong, and it’s your fault. 

You question what real is. 
You question what trust is.
You question what being a parent is. 
You question faith in the goodness of people. 
You question your intuition, the one that knew this would happen, but you didn’t listen. 
You question why people are nice to you and what they want from you. 

Today you made a pact. Today you decided to protect yourself. Today, you decided that you are too old to fall for things like this. This isn’t the first time this has happened. You believe you should have known better. You want to separate yourself from the child who is constantly manipulated.
You decided to grow up today. 

Today, and everyday until you become the me who is writing this: 
You will not trust.
You will not be lied to.
You will not be wrong. 
You will question everything. 
You will need to know all truths without any doubt to feel safe. 

Dear 31 year old, 
Today is a big day. 
Today, you trust. 

Trust that--
You will never know any real truths other than
You aren’t wrong. 
You belong. 
You are loved. 
The world is not trying to manipulate you.
You are safe here. 
You belong here. 
You can breath here.

And that’s enough.