Dear Isabel: It is okay to be happy.

Dear Isabel,

It is okay to be happy. We know that after what you’ve been through it can be hard to accept happiness as something that is going to stay. We know that it can be hard to accept that happiness won’t be a reason for people to leave you. We know there is a part of you that is validated by expressing the pain and worries that without it you will be left alone because people think “oh, she’s alright now.”

But do not let that stop you from owning every beautiful, healthy, and loving moment you experience.

Because you are free Isabel. You are safe, valued, and loved. The people who harmed you cannot get to you anymore.* You successfully distanced yourself from them. So enjoy it. Enjoy the ones who love you and trust you and ask them to stay in your life for moments of celebration, not just moments of pain.

People get to be both Isabel. People get to be the ones you turn to when you are suffering and the ones you turn to when you are overjoyed. And you get to be both. Leaning into your authentic happiness does not make your survivor experience any less real. The people who don’t believe your story of pain because of your stories of happiness were probably never going to believe you in the first place. You do not want people in your life who are dependent on your negative or positive experiences. You want people who let you be both. Because that is exactly what you are and exactly what everybody wants to be.

So, Isabel, when you are sad and your experience hurts, be sad and admit it hurts. But when you are happy and life feels good, let that be true as well.

We are rooting for you Isabel. You are living well.

With love and trust,

The Survivors

*If you are a survivor and you have not yet reached your point of safety, please review our resource page or reach out to SAFE’s 24/7 confidential SAFEline is available for victims of [sexual maltreatment] Call 512.267.7233. Text: 737.888.7233

© Anna Westbrook 2019

Anna Westbrook