Lu, you promised yourself for one full year you would write this blog. I’m not about to negate that promise, don’t worry. Part of the reason you started this blog was to empower yourself. Writing is a form of self- expression. When you write from your own experiences, you’re going to cover the gamut. Topics will range from whimsical, to funny to fucking embarrassing, but no matter the topic, you’ll derive a joy from crafting the perfect story (except this post will be hard, but it will be cathartic). You’re naturally a storyteller. I know it’s  hard to believe. You and I both know you were extremely shy growing up. With age, you’ve learned to command the presence of the room, AKA you love to talk to LITERALLY anyone. You have a sincere fascination with other people’s stories (hence why you went into reality TV for a minute). You have a level of empathy deep rooted from your own trying experiences. You’re open book. You are also a terrible liar.

There’s still this fear about exposing your own hardships. You don’t mind sharing your experiences, but you don’t want your own hardships to be perceived as weakness. I’m going to challenge  you to write about something difficult. I’m going to ask you to talk freely. You are going to talk freely (to yourself) because if you don’t, you’re going to live a miserable life. You can’t lie to yourself. People who lie to themselves rob themselves from any true joy in life. Don’t live like that. You are going to let go of any regard for any outside perceptions. I’m going to force you to finish this post.

I think people have this perception that you live a perfect family life. You are extremely close to your family (that I can guarantee is not a misperception). But, like all families, you are far from perfect. You’re fiercely protective of your family. You feel the need to be physically close to them because you worry about them. However, sometimes you grapple with the thought of staying in LA. You would do anything for your family (of course). You love them more than anything on this planet. But, they don’t always respect the boundaries that come with being an adult. Your responsibility to act as an adult is scrutinized when you do something seemingly self-serving but your ability to exercise that right (to be an adult and make  a decision best for you) is scrutinized when it causes discourse with what the family wants.  It’s something you’ve wrestled with for years. At times, this sense of guilt is bestowed on you by your family while other times this guilt is self-imposed by you. This fundamental struggle is rooted from your past. Let me give you some context (as you know, you love giving context for ALL situations).

You see, when you hit high school your older sister will go a-wall. Her temperament will change. Her erratic behavior will be extreme. She’ll go from crying to laughing in seconds #WTF. Then, one night, you’ll get a call. You’ll find out your sister acted like a fucking psycho because she got real extreme and tried her hand at heroine. Your sister will go in and out rehab for 5 years. She’ll lie to you, she’ll almost die, she’ll go missing for months on end. When someone is a drug addict, they don’t go through it alone. You go through all the motions together. You’re not a person to wallow in your misery. Your parents needed you to be strong and you didn’t really give it a second thought. (Side note–your older sister is now over 5 years clean, she’s a rock star).

Then your younger sister (during the same time) will also go through trying times. You will alternate visiting your older sister in rehab and visiting your younger sister in treatment centers. Your younger sister struggles with severe depression.

During this phase of your life, you will protect your family’s image. You won’t discuss the situation outside the home. Inadvertently, you’ll become your parent’s therapists. The situation will force you to grow up really fast. By default you innately love talking to people about their problems. It’s kind of ingrained in who you are. However, the role reversal will weigh on you but no one can be prepared for the magnitude of the situation (even parents need to vent). Your parents are phenomenal (just ask your ex-boyfriends, I think they would gladly date both of them). Your parents saved your sister’s lives. Your parents will teach that you never give up on the people you love, especially family. As an adult, you’re BEYOND proud of your siblings for going through those hardships and making it out the other side. I can’t express in words how lucky you are to have them in your life and how proud you are of both of them.

You’ll be forever grateful for the life lessons the situation will give you. You don’t feel sorry for yourself either. You know that countless people share this struggle. You feel even worse for the people still living through it. Addiction and depression are diseases. You would give anything to take those hardships away from your siblings. At the end of the day, these circumstances will make you a better person.

Sometimes you’re scared people will judge if they found out. Especially, when you are dating (which you definitely are now). You’re worried someone will misjudge you for it or think that you are fucked up because you just happened to go through some life shit. You will eventually have two boyfriends (at different times, you aren’t that much of a pimp) who will love you regardless. But, it’s always a little scary to think about broaching the topic again (it will eventually come up down the line) with someone new. On a totally different note, you’re also scared of leaving LA. You love spending time with your family and you worry about abandoning them.

No matter what you decide in life (as you know, the one thing guaranteed in life is change) it will all be ok. When you start seriously dating someone again, they won’t care about your family history (deep down you know this). Deep down, you also know, if you ever need to leave LA, your family will support you. Sometimes, we let our own guilt control us. DON’T DO THAT! You have to live life for you. You have to make decisions based on what makes you happy. Inadvertently, by choosing to do what is best for you, you will also make decisions that are best for the people you love. When you love people, you take them into consideration for every big life decision, especially your family. When people love you,  your family definitely does, they want you to do what is best for you.  So just trust your gut. Growing up is scary, but I promise it’s worth the ride.