TW: Domestic violence, sex, abusive situations
In this portion of the letter to myself, I am covering a swath of time. This will be to my 22-year-old self. This is 5 years after the death of my father, and the end of an abusive relationship that almost killed all that I was. Or could be. The language will be frank, no punches pulled. The person that tried to kill me more than once is still alive and messing some other girl’s life up. I don’t wish him dead, I just have nothing more to say to him. Saddle up. -JBHarris
Jennifer, Jennifer, Jennifer-
Was the peen really worth it? Let me tell you from this vantage point, with the blessing of age, that it wasn’t! You’ll get better, I promise. But that is a side note. What I need you to hear, is this–GET UP!
This boy, because he was never a man, hit you. He threw you across a room! He took your money. He wasn’t dependable. He lied to you! He cheated on you! And you had an abortion because you couldn’t face the disappoint in the eyes of your mother. And if you father was alive? Dear God, I’m glad Daddy is dead, because Richard would have hit the damn ceiling! Taking the both of you with him!
You were determined, yeah. I give you that! You loved him as best a wounded women do. You poured your youth and strength into a man that could only give you incremental satisfaction. And the uglier part? He can’t even hit it like you want. And your ex-boyfriend, Daniel? The one that called you after Senior Prom to make sure you got home, sent you money, and would do anything for you? The one that even gave you a key to his house? I promise you, that you will miss him everyday. Just like you are now. I tell you this, as a portion of hope, there is one that will come–with his same sweetness, and fervor and will love you like the ocean has depth. It will be unlike anything before.
But this one here?
This ain’t it, Sis. Again, Imma say it–GET UP!
Getcho ass up!
What I will tell you now is that you will regret the time you spent in Dominic’s presence. It is some Kim and Marshall Mathers type shit! When it’s good, it’s amazing! When it’s bad, it’s like paying rent in Hell! The boy has his own issues. Is he a bad person? In retrospect, no. He was doing what he was taught to do, and you allowed him to do. You wrote before him, and after him? You will lose his gift. I know that seems impossible, but it will be gone. You will journal, you will cry, but there will be no power. He will vanish on you. He will exploit this love you have for him. Over. And over. And over again. Ironically, it was the 2002 Spider-Man (Tobias Vincent Maguire is still a bae, don’t worry!) movie that freed you from him.
There will be someone else that will call you Mary Jane, and it’ll be sexier, more fitting when he says it, but that is to come. Be patient.
Mary Jane Watson is the love of Peter Parker’s life and would do anything for her. I am proud of you that you hung on to that. You remembered what healthy love looked like, what it felt like! That it was more than sex! When you wanted more from him–‘take it back to formula’ is what you told this manchild–and he looked you in your face, and said, “No.”
This is the man you gave your body to, whom said you were his everything, the one that you pushed passed all God’s warning signs for. This is the man that you wanted the happily ever after with–and he couldn’t even love you enough to rebuild.
This lesson is what you will take with you, will save you time and tears later. The lesson you will take from this relationship is when you are not honored, you cannot, must not stay!
But one thing, beloved. I have to prepare you. This relationship will take three years of your time. It will cost you a job. College admissions because he didn’t want you to leave the state! It will compromise your spiritual gifts. It will take your gift for word and writing and strip it. You didn’t go to college at Truman University when you had the chance. You were depressed at Deaconess College of Nursing, and that’s understandable! Your father was dead! You dated, but no one could be Daniel.
But you always wrote. There were always words.
Audre Lorde said that every writer goes through these type of spells. It is horrendous because writing is like breathing, she says. The same is said for you. Dominic TOOK from you. Body. Time. Money. Talent. Breath. You’ll develop asthma because he smoked so much.
I’m going to tell you this, because I love you. I need to tell you this because I love you. Forgive this man, and move on! Don’t look back towards him. Even trying to be a fuck buddy with him will not work! Because? Well, you’ll be thinking of someone else. Every single time. Every. Single. Time. It’s not cute.
But the thing I need you to know is the words will come back.
But right now? That seems impossible. The power. The gift. Oh, I know that you miss it. I know you miss it! I know you want it back. But right now? It’s gone, Jennifer. And I don’t know how else to help you with its loss. I cannot even tell you how heartbroken I am to even remind you of this. But I will say that it is not permanent.
You will not die quiet.
You cannot die quiet.
You also will not die full.
Endure the process, because when you come out of this? You will be a Phoenix–and wear her on your back in ink. Right now, before that rekindling (or enkindling) you must be silent. And that is between you and God. The hardest thing you will have to do is forgive yourself. Being in love is never wrong. It is wrong when that love is seen as a weapon of manipulation or control. It will be this relationship, that will both harden and soften you. It will prepare you for what is to come. Why? You will know that crazy never improves, it only gets worse.
See you when you get here, Sis.
You (age 38)