Dear Charlie: A Reader’s Reply To The Perks Of Being A Wallflower


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“I guess we are who we are for a lot of reasons. And maybe we’ll never know most of them. But even if we don’t have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there. And we can try to feel okay about them.”

Dear Charlie,

Thank you.

Thank you for your letters and for your honesty. Most people shy away from honesty. The fear of rejection and betrayal is just too strong to be honest with each other about pain and sorrow. And sadly that is not an irrational fear.

I think people are so afraid of pain that they can’t bear the idea of taking on another’s. Which is silly because if we shared our pain with each other, wouldn’t that lighten the load? Wouldn’t it expose us and heal us?

I think also that pain is so personal it becomes an identity. The very thing that we hate about ourselves defines ourselves. Which is stupid because we were meant for more than sorrow. And pain unchecked becomes the norm and warps our understanding of what is right and what is wrong.

That’s something you discovered, isn’t it? All those people – the hurting ones – some of them pass their hurt on, not by being honest and asking for help, but by hurting people. Like they were hurt.

Why do we do that, Charlie? Why do we–and I’m speaking of all of humanity when I say “we”–why do we hurt each other?

Why can’t we stand up to our bullies without becoming bullies ourselves?

There are a few of us who stop the cycle. You and me–we’ve made the choice that it ends with us. It does not continue. And we will help our friends who are hurting.

(You would be friends with everyone you’d meet, wouldn’t you, Charlie? If they would let you.)

Charlie, I am 27 years old, and in my life and in my friends’ lives I have seen so much of what you and your friends have struggled with in your letters. And I know that people can stop the cycle. They can say, “Enough is enough,” and go and make the world brighter.

But they can’t do it on their own, and not everyone will ask for help. And it breaks my heart. It breaks my heart over and over again that people would rather live in pain than in peace.

“We accept the love we think we deserve.”

Your dad was right when he said,

“Not everyone has a sob story, Charlie, and even if they do, it’s no excuse.”

It sounds harsh, but it’s true. We can choose to do what is right. We can choose to be better than those who hurt us. We can choose to be survivors and not victims.

It won’t be easy, but it is possible. We were created for so much more than we can realize. We might be cursed, but we don’t have to stay that way.

Thank you, Charlie, for your honesty because in your story I understood the world just a little bit better.

Love always,

Emily

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