To myself, one year ago,
Hello. I’m glad you’re doing well. I’m glad that you’re walking in sunlight, eating fried plantains, taking 10 hour long night buses, swimming in rivers, listening to the nightly thunderstorms. Make sure to live these moments deeply, so that I can remember them deeply.
I’m writing to tell you a story; a story about your future. It’s a little bumpy and a little scary, but please stick with it. It is terrible and wonderful and it’s certainly not done yet.
Things are going to get hard. You still have 2 months of this current adventure left, so please, cherish them and hold them tight. Make sure to live deliberately and suck all the marrow out of life, because this, and all your wonderful memories of before, will sustain you.
You are going to come home and you are going to get sick again. Remember those feelings, the ones you hoped had gone away forever? Well they’re coming home to roost and they will build their nest inside your mind, but this time they are bigger and more consuming. Every morning they will peck at you, gnawing at your core every second of every day until you are crushed by the unbearable weight of simply existing. You will get a job in a shop and surprisingly, that will be your only respite, because that is the only time that you have to be presentable, you have to be fake, you have to forget. Home will not be home anymore, and the people you found your home in will hurt you and leave you.
And you will change. Demonic horns will burst their way through your scalp and your tongue will shoot fire and venom that you didn’t know was inside you and your brain will trick you into believing things that didn’t happen. Your dreams will become more real than reality itself and the increasingly blurred lines mean that you will spend months living in a haze. You will cry violent tsunamis of tears and you will be incapable of moving your mouth and limbs for hours on end and you will do anything to make the world go away. You will hurt people that you thought you loved. You will not recognise yourself by the end of it and you will lament the pain you have caused.
And then, light breaks through. You don’t quite know where it comes from; a multitude of things I suppose. A friend who holds you when you cry. The song that you hear that makes you finally sing again. A glass of wine sipped in the Italian sun. The haze will settle and you will see; you will see the ones who love you, you will see home, you will see yourself again.
You’ll move across the ocean again and you will thrive. There are things that reside in you that you are unaware of, and believe me, you will surprise yourself. There will be art, passion, music, creativity, excitement, adventure, light, joy, exuberance. You will love again and love deeply. You will love old friends with a new passion and new friends with the excitement of a certain future. This I promise you Joanna.
Then, as your life is reaching a glorious crescendo, something unthinkable will happen. And this isn’t just about you, this is global. Your life will undergo a seismic shift and you will be scared, you and the rest of the planet. But let me tell you- you will have worked so hard for months and months and you will be strong enough to get through this. The things that would have terrified you 8 months ago now will not knock you down. Because you are inimitable and unbreakable. And this is not the end.
You will know yourself once again. You will work so hard and discover multitudes within yourself. You will get better.
I’m so proud of you.