Dear Friend — Love Always, Charlie
Sept 18th, 2012
I haven’t sent a letter to you for 20 years, I didn’t even know if this is still the right place to send it but I’m going to send it anyway and hope that you find it, it would mean the world to me if you found it because I want to say thank you. Years ago there was a very sad kid who needed a whole lot of help and writing to you was the beginning of that help whatever I’ve learned as an adult I have never forgotten what it was like to be that kid, what it was like to feel like no one could understand these feelings because I couldn’t understand them myself.
I have never forgotten feeling sad or crazy or depressed or outside of my own self and own body and on the great days, I’ve never forgotten what it was like to go on those drives with those songs and with those beautiful people whom I still call friends. That kid wrote some letters and sent them out into the world to a stranger he had heard about and then something amazing happened, you wrote back. I know I didn’t enclose my real name or address but somehow my letters were shared, people passed them around the way Patrick’s poem was xeroxed and traded whispered like a secret password however it happened, it happened. You read my letters and then some of you wrote back, you sent letters to random addresses some of them were forwarded along maybe some of them weren’t, I don’t know if I got all of them, but I got enough of your letters to realize something extraordinary and if you could see the boxes and boxes of letters that I’ve received in the last 20 years you would know what I know! Once and for all forever and always you are not alone.
Understand friend there are millions of us, millions of people who struggle with and overcome all sorts of problems, you would be shocked to know how many people understand exactly what you’re going through that doesn’t mean that what you’re going through is somehow less meaningful, special, unique.
On the contrary, it means that what you’re going through is more, it is important, it deserves to be seen, spoken of, and understood. It is 20 years now, 20 years of receiving your letters, and I can’t tell you how many times they’ve saved me that day or made me laugh or cry or believe or hope that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
I can’t tell you what it’s like to read a letter from the young woman who was going to kill herself, read my letters and decided not to and she is now in her thirties, she’s happily married, she has children the dark time is over for her just like it will pass for you. So, if these words make sense if you have known these stories yourself if you’ve experienced or witnessed abuse physically, sexually, emotionally. If you’ve struggled with mental illness of any kind or loved someone who does. If you are surrounded by those who call what you are different instead of beautiful if your mind or body has cried out for peace and acknowledgment and peace just know you are part of an infinite family, the people who have been through terrible things and survived them, if you’re reading these words you won today, you are here, you are alive, you have options, you can get out of bad situations, move on, fight back, get out, break up, call ask her/him out, write that book, write that song, listen to the music, take the drive, take the chance and live.
Whatever strategy you choose, you win. There are so many more of us than there ever will be of them and we can find each other and help each other and we can talk to each other and build great lives. Happiness is not this thing for other people, it is for you, it is for me, it is for all of us. We all get an ending whether or not it’s happy is up-to to us. That is my long way of saying thank you, dear friend.
20 years ago a young man wrote some letters, you wrote him back and a grown man was inspired to write again, So just in case if this ends up being my last letter, I want to answer one question, the question that I’ve been asked the most since your letters found their ways to me, Whatever happened to charlie? and I can tell you what happened to charlie in 3 words — He made it and so will you!
(Last letter from charlie, from the book the perks of being a wallflower)