Dear 18-year-old Jasmine,
At this time in your life, you are applying for colleges, trying to figure out the next step in your journey. I know you're restless, stressed and counting down the nanoseconds until graduation day. I know everything also seems like it sucks so much right now with schoolwork, college applications, scholarship applications, FAFSA, friends and all the other things that probably give you hives just thinking about them. I know you spend many nights crying yourself into a panic attack, unaware of where you could be in a year. There's so much uncertainty surrounding what the next few years might look like, but you're going to be okay. Through all the stress and worries, you're going to be okay. I promise.
Try not to worry too much about the things outside of your control; worry about your well-being and take care of yourself. At this point in time, it hasn't actually hit you yet, but you are struggling with an eating disorder and have been since you were in middle school. The diet pills, laxatives, purging and over-exercising is not "taking care of yourself." It's slowly causing your body, as well as your own mental health, to deteriorate. The hair falling out, the skin discoloration and lethargic feeling that never seems to leave your body are all signs that you should have seen a long time ago. Stop saying so many negative things to yourself in the mirror. In the words of the amazing Mary Lambert, your body is home and you have to treat it as such. I know it's one of the hardest things in the entire world, but with support from the incredible people you have yet to meet, support from the small handful you already know, loads of therapy and EMDR treatment, you will get through it. You will be able to eat healthily without being consumed by calorie counting or the number on the scale. Just the other day, I was able to eat a bagel for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch AND a Chipotle burrito for dinner without a single disordered thought entering my mind.
There are definitely going to be days where old, poisonous thoughts will enter your mind again and may seem so crippling that you can't physically leave your bed, but they get easier to deal with as time, and therapy, goes on. It will happen, and you will get there. That much I can also promise you. Just never forget to take care of yourself first before anyone else.
Also, although it may seem very untrue right now, good friends actually do exist. It's hard to move past the reluctance you have towards people after someone very close to you hurts you. More than anything, I wish I could give you the biggest hug in the world. It's already so difficult to cut ties with someone close to you that has also been manipulating you for more than five years. It becomes even more difficult when they take it a step further and then make it their goal to make your last year in high school absolutely miserable... to the point where it requires legal action and a restraining order.
You are a survivor of a deadly relationship and I am proud of you for finding the strength to get out, protect yourself and take care of yourself. You are proof that abusive relationships go beyond romantic relationships. You will make it past this and meet some unbelievable people later down the line. They won't be able to make you forget the experience, but they will definitely help you heal.
Also know that you deserve so much better. I don't necessarily mean that as a dig to the person you currently are dating, or anyone else before them, but dear God, do you deserve so much better. The reality is, it's not going to last. Very little "high school sweetheart relationships" do last. Aside from that, I know your self-esteem is nearly non-existent at the moment, but that will change. You will no longer feel the need to accept every single date offer as an act of desperation. You will learn what you do and do not want in a partner, and you will have the agency to call the shots.
A few things you will figure out that you DO deserve:
-To be taken out to Denny's at nearly 3 a.m. for some pancake puppies.
-To be listened to when you have problems and feel like you can openly talk about them.
-Someone who makes you super excited to see them (and vice versa), even way past the "honeymoon stage."
-Someone who attempts to find interest in things that mean the world to you.
-Someone who will clean their entire car, get a haircut and then sweep you away with flowers and a Oaxacan food date night.
Spoiler alert: she's amazing in every single way possible and will come out of nowhere.
Finally, don't ever settle for comfortable and safe...with anything. Or else you will never ever be happy.
If you're struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorder Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.