You won’t find the real pieces of me on these pages, all rainbows and unicorns on social, hash-tagged with half-truths and satin moments wrapped up in smiles and a bow. No, even the glimpses of me that you see on here is nothing, really, if you want to truly understand me.

To understand me, you need to talk to me. Ask me how my day was. What I love. What I fear. What real fear is. What death looks like. The unimaginable pain of telling people you love their parent died. The unbelievable anguish of saying again, in that same year, because it happened again. The horror of watching your world crumble around you. The deafening silence of solitude for a summer when all the busyiness in the world can’t keep your demons at bay. The evolution of the world around you, and within you, as you move through trauma after trauma followed by grief and despair, while taxed with being strong enough to hold your loved ones around you together because you know you are needed, even if they pushed you away. And you know that someday they will understand and love you for what you have done even if in the moment it seemed like it was never enough, all the while being told you’re too much.

you are never too much.

No, you won’t learn more about me just by reading what I write here. You’ll need to really get to know me to know that. Yes, everything I write here is the truth. It’s honest and raw and real, and everything I am feeling in that moment. But if you want to go beyond that and know what I feel in my heart and my soul, on the things I hold closest to my heart, those words are not here.

I opened my journal tonight for the first time in a long time. Since February actually. And even before that there are pieces of my soul in there. It’s the only place I write names, and thoughts without concern for others because I know it is on that old worn paper that I can be even more true and honest with myself than I am anywhere else in the world. Anywhere else, perhaps, other than the porch swing where very few have sat and asked me the questions that really matter. And there, in the journal and on that porch swing, I promise you I will always speak the truth.

I always speak the truth – sometimes, however I’ve learned that you need to hold your truth close to your heart because people will hold it against you. Even the ones who tell you they love will hold it against you and in some cases, they’ll even hold yourself and what you’ve told them and who you are and your very own truths against you. They’ll use it as a reason to justify actions, reasons to not be around, telling you things that fit with their narrative and their story. But you’ll know better because through everything your truth has never wavered. You know where north is, after all. It’s not that hard to find if you can navigate by the stars the way people have for thousands of years. It’s quite simple, actually.

There’s chaos in her mind, or so it seems on the outside to anyone living without passion and truth and a compass pointing north and home. I opened the journal tonight to pieces of my heart on paper that I don’t share with others and smiled. Funny how this summer is your summer to struggle to find your place and your pace and your heart and your home while this time I get to step back and let you figure it out. I am very good at keeping my mouth shut and loving those whom I call family with open arms while letting them figure things out at their own pace, in their own time. I can love you from here. I can love you from anywhere, even when you are floundering to find your way trying to figure out what’s worth settling for and what’s worth waiting for and what’s worth fighting for.

Spoiler alert: there’s nothing worth settling for, you’ve been fighting your whole life, it’s high time you learned to pick your battles, put down your poison, and realizing that waiting for extraordinary is a whole lot easier when you’re striving for exceptional in yourself and your life every day. The rest? Well, you see, that just falls into place after all.

Don’t take my word for it. Try it for yourself sometime. You already hold pieces of me no one else can reach, as a friend and as family, in a friendship as old as time that time will always know. But I can’t make you great. I can only encourage you towards the greatness I see in you, the way did for me when I doubted myself all this time.

I don’t doubt myself anymore. Thank you. I wrote that in the journal, but I thought the world should know. That’s what family and friendship is, even when the everyday changes, when the time spent together changes, when the time we give each other changes, and the direction our lives go in changes. But you know what? That doesn’t really change anything, so long as we are all growing on our own paths and our own journeys, change is one of the most incredible things we can ever experience.

That, and love. I haven’t known that in that way quite yet, but I will. I needed to get the rest of me sorted first, and I have. And damn, it’s amazing.