This is the letter that I wish I could write.
This fight we are in right now. I need it. I need this fight. I can’t tell you this because I don’t have the language for it and it wouldn’t make sense anyway. But I need this fight. Badly.
I need to hate you right now and I need you to survive it. I need you to survive my hating you, and you hating me. I need this fight even though I hate it, too.
It doesn’t matter what this fight is even about: curfew, homework, laundry, my messy room, going out, staying in, leaving, not leaving, boyfriend, girlfriend, no friends, bad friends.
It doesn’t matter. I need to fight you on it and I need you to fight me back.
I desperately need you to hold onto the other end of the rope.
I need you to hang on tightly while I thrash on the other end— while I find the handholds and footholds in this new world I’m facing. I used to know who I was, who you were, and who we were together. But right now, I don’t.
Right now I am looking for my edges, and I can sometimes only find them by pulling directly on you. I occasionally need to push everything I used to know to its edge. Then I feel like I exist, and for a minute I can breathe.
I know you long for the sweeter kid that I used to be.
I know this because I wish I could be that same kid too sometimes, and some of that longing is what is so painful for me right now.
I need this fight and I need to see that no matter how bad or big my feelings are, they won’t destroy you or me.
I need you to love me even at my worst, even when it looks like I don’t love you.
I need you to love yourself -and me for the both of us- right now. I know it sucks to be disliked and labeled the “bad guy” by me. I feel the same way on the inside, but I need you to tolerate it and get other grownups to help you. Because I can’t right now.
If you want to get all of your grown-up friends together and have a ‘surviving-your-teenager-support-group-rage-fest’, that’s fine with me. Or you can totally talk about me behind my back- I don’t care.
Just don’t give up on me. Don’t give up on this fight. I need it.
This is the fight that will teach me that my shadow is not bigger than my light. This is the fight that will teach me that bad feelings don’t automatically mean the end of a relationship. This is the fight that will teach me how to listen to myself, even when it might disappoint others.
And this particular fight WILL eventually end. Like any storm, it will blow over. I will forget about it, and you will too. And then it will come back, in another struggle. And I will need you to hang on tightly to the rope again. I will need this over and over… for years.
I know there is nothing inherently satisfying in this particular job for you. I know I will likely never thank you for it, or even acknowledge your side of it. In fact, I will probably criticize you for all the hard work you’ve been doing.
It will seem to you like nothing you do will ever be enough. And yet, I am relying entirely on your ability to stay in this fight.
No matter how much I argue. No matter how much I sulk. No matter how silent I get.
Please hang on to the other end of the rope. And know that you are doing the most important job that anyone could possibly be doing for me right now.
This post originally appeared on GretchenSchmelzer.com