There is no t-shirt. Only pain, brokenness, and scars that no one else can see.
I see the road ahead and know it all too well. It is littered with shards of glass and must be traveled on foot with no shoes. I know it because I’ve been down it. It does lead to an end, but you can’t see it from the beginning. Once the end is reached, you will swear with every fiber of your being to never even look at the road again. If you could, you’d burn it down.
But here I am. Wounds from a decade ago flayed open, asked to travel it again. Only this time, it’s not my journey. I am only the guide because I’ve been there, done that. I wish I didn’t know the way, but I do. I fumbled through with no one to show me the way. I can’t prevent the traps and snares. I can only tell you they are there, but at least that is something. You will not come away unscathed, but maybe, just maybe, by shining a light and guiding you through, you’ll have fewer scars than if you’d traveled in the dark.
At the very least, you will not be alone. It’s the least I can do. A debt of gratitude to be paid with interest. You did everything you could when I made my journey, but you had no idea where all it lead. Finishing is not a triumph, it’s survival.
My friend, I am so sorry. I would not wish this journey on an enemy. For you, I will stare once again into those fiery pits and do everything I can to see you through. For what it’s worth, I’m scared too.
For the rest of you that have no idea what I am talking about, it’s okay. You’ve your own paths, some beautiful, some not. I hope you walk none of them alone.
Edited to add: Several people have contacted me with assumptions. No, this has absolutely nothing to do with addiction. This is a very specific attack on a person’s life and not a consequence their choices. I know it because I was similarly targeted. Please do not paint me or my friend with that brush.