subject line: an open letter to whoever is reading



This is weird to say but this is a community. Please don’t stop writing and don’t stop submitting your emails to this thing. Your emails have been a part of the fuel that keeps me going, being able to say “me too” over and over again has let me know that I’m not alone. I’m not alone in through the pain, the troubles and the awful mistakes. And I’m not certainly not alone through the triumphs, the hope, and the redemption.

You are not alone. This is a community and even though this is an anonymous site, people are sharing some of the deepest part of their hearts. I hope that all of us will continue to share and share with the people in our real lives too. Because even more than we are rooting for you (if you’ve got the right people in your life), they’re rooting for you even more. They notice when that light dims and when it comes to life. They notice when you just aren’t yourself and you’re holding back. They notice when you need more time to heal, more space to breathe, and more love than you can give right now.

I hit the “here goes nothing” button almost daily now. It’s been therapeutic in a way. I don’t save any of the letters/emails I submit. If it gets posted, I have an opportunity to look on the beauty, pain, confusion and joy of my life that once was. If it doesn’t get posted, it’s fine, I remember what I need to. A part of me is always a little shocked when mine gets posted.

You’re lives are so beautifully written. I don’t believe pain is bad or good. It’s in the life tree.

subject line: the little things slipped



Sometimes I wish that I stilled loved you. That when I see your pictures on Instagram, I cried because of all the little things I still carried for you. But I look at your face through my screen, I zoom in and out, and even though it still stings, you feel like a stranger to me. It feels like I never even knew you at all. That’s the scariest part, because it probably means that you’re forgetting me, too.
But I guess even though I don’t love you anymore, even though your voice feels like an old memory that I’m not completely sure actually happened or was just a dream I’m forgetting part of, I know that I loved you once. That you loved me once. And it was real.
I guess sometimes that’s all we can do—have faith in what once was and carry on. I feel completely changed after coming out of the end. I feel not like myself. Just as I looked at your pictures, I look into my mirror and smile the way I think I might smile if my favorite song came on the radio, raise an eyebrow the way I think I might raise an eyebrow if somebody said something completely stupid. But that girl you loved once is gone. Just as that boy I loved once is gone. But it was there.
And that’s the thing about it. Love, I mean. It still moves us even months after being gone for somebody. So even though I don’t love you anymore, I still think of you often. The ending still stings. Love morphed me and it morphed you, and I feel better for it. I hope you do, too.
Like I said, I think all we can do is carry on. Know that love existed for each of us once, and it will again. Even if it feels like a half-forgotten dream right now.

subject line: what I wish someone would have told me


Nashville, Tennessee

What I really want to say to everyone who is wondering if he feels the same way:
There are two hard truths that I’ve learned in the world of dating. First is that if he is interested, you will know. And if you don’t know, then the truth is that deep down you do know, but you’re trying to convince yourself that he’s putting out signals that are not really there. I know from experience that it is far too easy to tell yourself what you want to hear when you’re reading between the hypothetical lines that really just mean he isn’t interested. And you need to know that it isn’t because you aren’t good enough. Him not choosing you does not make you any less worthy of being chosen. The second truth is that if he wants to see you, he will see you. If he wants to talk to you, he will move mountains to make it happen. So please, stop trying to convince him that you are worth it, and start waiting for the guy who will tell you that you have always been worth it. You deserve someone who you won’t have to question or wonder about. You deserve someone who will make his feelings known, and his intentions clear. And there are guys out there who will do that. My hope is that you believe that you are worthy of being someone’s first choice, and that you don’t settle for anything less.

subject line: struggling 20 year old girl


south dakota, USA

I read these, and re read the same ones again and again each night praying for those faces behind the screen. I dream of being the girl who had the boy in her sheets, with the smell you cannot help but want to last forever. I dream of being the married wife with the perfect husband to fall into at night. The one who drives her nice “mom car” with her picture perfect kids and Starbucks in hand. I dream of being a world changer, a life changer.

But none of this is me, I’m just a 20 year old trying to get through college and the hard parts of life. I am at that stage in life where all of my friends are in love and have been dating for long periods of time. Or there are people like me, watching all of your best friends fall in love and trying your hardest to be happy for them when really all you want is for that to be you. I haven’t had a boyfriend in YEARS, where is my Prince Charming and perfect love story? We all deserve a shot at love, but waiting is hard and not fun (trust me from experience). So instead I sit at home with Netflix and cheer those friends on and make sure I am there to help respond to the hard texts. Today is just a day I am tired, really tired of waiting and I didn’t know where else to go.

If you are waiting too, we can wait together and one day our love life will come. I have that hope and I promise it for you too.

subject line: thank you

For the days I feel small and mean, and I feel like a cloud hangs over my head.

For the days when my fists clench, and I have to bite back a million hurtful words. The days when I feel most alone, and most like crawling onto my uncomfortable mattress and curling up into a ball and sobbing for the rest of my life. The days when my mouth feels like cotton, and all shut up and closed tight, and I can’t eat anything. When the only thing I want is the only thing that I can’t have. When I just want one more day with her, or one hour, or just to maybe hear her laugh one more time.

Thank you, all you beautiful souls who write emails telling us how you feel. Thanks for sharing your stories, your thoughts and feelings. Thanks for letting me know that I’m not alone.

subject line: dirty words


college station, texas

It can’t be considered rape if I woke up right as you were putting a condom on, right? That’s what you may have thought that night. But here’s the truth: the minute you knew I passed out from being too drunk that I couldn’t even function, should have been the moment you left me alone. Besides, where’s the pleasure when the girl you’ve been trying to get with all night isn’t even awake?
I’ve forgiven you.

subject line: I never knew you liked me


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

See here’s the thing. I don’t think I’m exactly happy yet. Getting out of a funk doesn’t happen overnight. It doesn’t happen in a week. Or a month. Or 5 or 6 or two years.

I just saw that you’re at one of my favorite bars doing shots with some of my favorite people, and I know if I texted you I could be there right with you. I know you would kiss me. I know you would take me home to your sweet, sweet dog, and it always takes me a second these days to remember why I hesitate now to go to a place I used to rush to. I used to live for our Fridays together. I remember the first time we kissed, you said, “I knew you liked me.”

And then I remember that when I told you my friend died, you didn’t really care. You told me the generic words that were generic and you said that if I needed you, you would be there, but you weren’t. My friend died, and it changed my life, and you weren’t there.

I’m pretty damn sure that’s how you fall out of love with someone. If I could write a how to guide, that would be it for me. I wouldn’t recommend the method. But it’s 10/10, 100 and more percent effective. I used to think we would walk down the aisle together, and now I’m just wondering if you’ll ever value my life more than you value that burning feeling in your throat.

subject line: to the boy down the street



I actually don’t remember when I first met you, but I cant stop thinking about the second time. I was at your house as usual because you live with a couple of my close friends. I’m louder than I’d ever like to admit and you heard me with my obnoxious laugh downstairs. You came down just to say hey to me. And you remembered my name.

Now, I always ask about you when I come over to visit your roommates. I have always been the girl to easily make guy friends. Although it has given me a cool perspective on life and taught me a ton, it doesn’t give me a lot of time outside of the friend zone.

Last night you came through my front door. And although I was kind of excited/surprised, you came with a girl. At first I thought, “this is the story of my life”. But someone quickly let me know she is your sister.

I remember being ashamed of flirting but last night, I felt so much freedom. I sat next to you and if either of us got up we somehow found a way to end up back sitting next to the other. I laughed so hard I almost peed my pants a couple times. You shamelessly made sure I felt included in everything.

I’m so used to being the friend. I’m so used to being the girl standing there while the guy flirts with my roommate. But this is different and even if it goes nowhere, the freedom to flirt and feel pretty and be noticed, it’s beautiful.

subject line: i didn't call


the abyss of grief

The day you died, I didn’t call. When they told me you were a no call, no show for work, I brushed it off and said you’d surely be there soon. As time passed, I became more and more anxious. I dialed your number, but I did not call. I figured you had just overslept.

Now, everyday I am haunted with the fact that I didn’t call. Every single day I wonder if my call would have made a difference, or if you would have ignored it like everyone else’s pleas for you to tell them you were safe. Every day I wonder if I could have changed the course of your future. I remember that day, when I told my coworkers I was going to go kick down your door but they assured me you had just overslept.

I didn’t call. And you shot yourself at 1 pm after hours of us looking for you. After countless phone calls from concerned coworkers. But after all, I never called. I never reached out. I missed my chance to show you I cared. I missed the opportunity to see if maybe I was different.

I miss you, and you’re gone. All because I didn’t fucking call.

subject line: a night changed



Tonight we laid in bed. We looked at each other with lovestruck eyes and knew what was trying to happen. Preparing for a night of marriage after a long week. But my anxiety had other plans.

Instead of feeling connected to my husband I was connected to my failures. The week started replaying in my head, amplifying all the ways I messed up. At work, at life, as a wife. See what they don’t tell you is that love can increase your anxiety. When you live with someone who seems so perfect- it can crash your mind like a computer virus- making the screen go blurry until it shuts down.

He could tell it was happening. He could see the drifting off of my eyes and the wheels in my head churning.

What started out as a night with high expectations of bliss ended with an attack of tears. But he didn’t get mad, he held me. He told me the words I needed to hear. He satisfied my need for words of affirmation. He just kept listing all the ways I’m succeeding when my brain tells me the opposite.

Marry the person who cares about your heart more than they want to get laid.

subject line: the last time


Boise, Idaho

I’ve written in one too many times. The standard topic: unrequited love. For nearly two years I’ve written about a man I’m certain about. A flannel-wearing, bearded man I’ve been not so secretly in love with for three years. So many things have happened in that time. A falling out. A girlfriend for him. A dark depression for me. We’ve circled around in our friendship, but I’m still dancing with maybes and what ifs. I’ve written about letting go and moving on, but at the end of the day I haven’t. I start thinking I’ve made progress only to catch myself looking at him from across the room and daydreaming about him when he’s not there.

Here’s the thing. I don’t want to miss out because I’m holding on. I’ve let him occupy all this space in my heart for so long; there is not room for much else. I’m scared of what will happen if I let go. I don’t want to lose the friendship and beauty wrapped inside this man I love. I’m also scared of what will happen if I don’t. I’m tired of falling into my same patterns and habits; it’s not doing either of us any good. I’m not loving him or myself in the best way I can. It’s not healthy and it’s embarrassing. I’m not living as the woman I want to be.

It seems only fitting that I write in and say: I’m rolling up my sleeves; I’m going to love myself enough to do the hard work and take care of myself. I’m not entirely sure what that looks like. Creating a sanctuary. Reading self-help books. Meditation. Listening to podcasts on my spin bike. Volunteering at the food bank. Inviting friends over for endless tacos. Turning up a record and having a solo dance party. Taking calligraphy classes. Learning to love with generosity. Lots of prayer. It will probably look like avoiding him for awhile and not seeking him out.

It’s all simple to type out, but I’m not expecting this to be easy. I anticipate tears and pain. But it can’t be worse than how I feel right now. I can have all the self-awareness in the world, but it will be worthless if I don’t take action. Ready or not.

subject line: from emily


Tulsa, Oklahoma

Dear Mysterious Friend,

I should have been working on some English assignment, but I found myself here, scrolling through these emails. Your email caught me off guard. It was posted a few days ago but I didn’t see it until today because I haven’t found myself here since I commented on your first email. If I’m being honest, after I published the comment I left it there and didn’t look at it again. I still haven’t. And if I’m being really honest, when I write words like that, when I open myself up and pour myself into the words, I feel like the words are no longer part of me when I send them out. Does that make any sense? Maybe. But anyways, I read your email and started to cry. I commented on your email because it broke my heart more than the others usually do and even though we’re in different circumstances, I felt that I understood and wanted you to know that you aren’t alone. So finding the email you left for me made me so happy. I am so thrilled that my words helped you. And it blows me away that you took the time to send that email. I mean, you didn’t have to; you could have kept it to yourself and moved on with your life. So thank you. Your words mean so much and I’m truly thankful that mine mean something to you too.

Something you wrote hit me and I’ve been thinking about it today. Tonight, before I go to bed, I’m going to write it in my own journal because I love it so much and you said it so beautifully.

”we both struggle daily and desire to love immensely.”

So, dear mysterious lovely friend (I love the idea of that!), I think you should know that I prayed for you today, as I drove through town. I felt that mysterious camaraderie of sorts. I’ll probably never know your name or get to know you, but that’s okay.

Maybe because it’s been a bit of a rough week, or because I get emotional when I’m tired, but I’m pretty sure I would burst into tears if I read your entire email again. Thank you so much for your beautiful words. I feel as if you’re doing better than you were when you sent your last email and that makes me so happy! I know life isn’t perfect but I’m elated that you might be doing even a little bit better. I’m doing better too and I will keep loving and fighting. I’ll remember that there is a God who gives grace when I mess up (which is pretty much all the time!) and I’ll remember you too. And I’ll keep praying for you as you keep loving and fighting as well.


Emily (not Geraldine or Linda, but Emily <3)

subject line: this is my goodbye, for real this time?



I’ve been passively writing you through this thing here for a while now. It’s easier this way because I don’t have to go through wondering if you’ll finally write back.

I was thinking about some of the moments that were just too sweet. I refuse to paint a picture of you that is anything but kind. Although, it would be a lot easier to just tell everyone you were awful to me and pretend I deserve so much better.

Remember that time we made a bet on whether or not you could lift me? It was a risky one because if you couldn’t then we both would have been so embarrassed. It was right before one of our date nights. You insisted we do it before we left. I was more nervous for this than I was on our first date. I thought “there’s no way this tall, lanky boy could lift someone my size”. I was self conscious about my weight but refused to let you in on that. Then you picked me up with ease and when you put me down, you smiled and kissed me. No words.

After our date that night you brought it up. And I thought you felt like I was questioning your strength. I said “it wasn’t that I thought you weren’t strong enough...” and before I could say anything else, you boldly cut in to say “oh no, I know what you thought. You thought you were too big... you’re not, you’re perfect” and then you kissed my hand. Maybe that’s the moment I started to fall?

I could only think of how our kind of love only happens in movies. Maybe that’s why it didn’t work out?

Part of me hopes I’ll pass you on the street when we are both old and have our own families. And for just a moment, all the memories will rush back in. Just like in the movies. I’ve imagined it happening for weeks now.

subject line: clean



The other night after a particularly shitty day I spent 45 minutes sitting on the shower floor. I mumbled to myself about how stupid I was, cried a bit, and let myself pray - long and hard.
I started off like I do most prayers, some words of gratitutde and worries for the world and others that are too big to carry alone. I then moved on to pray for myself and repeated my daily prayer “God, I want to fall in love and to be truly loved in return.”

Over the years the person who I thought that could be with has changed, but the message has always stayed the same. I always ask for love - an adventurous, comfortable, deep, humorous relationship that I know in my soul is right. And even after realizing that I had spent time and effort on the wrong person once again, I felt most compelled to pray for him. For the boy who didn’t want me even though I wanted him.

I prayed that he get home from work safely. I prayed that his family and friends stay healthy. I prayed that he’d find the courage to quit his job and pursue writing because I know deep down that’s what he’s passionate about. I prayed he could see himself through my eyes. See how smart he is, how funny he is, how desperately I want him to let me love him.

Finally it hit me that my name probably doesn’t even cross him mind, let alone roll off his tongue in his most intimate conversations with God, even though his name can’t fly off mine quick enough. I sat there under the running water and just thought “It’s so easy to love him, and so difficult for him to love me back. What the hell am I doing wrong?”

But somewhere in the height of my thoughts’ darkness I had the sweetest, most powerful thought I’ve had in a long time. If I can pray this intently, this deeply for someone who probably doesn’t give me a second thought, someone else out there could be doing the same for me. And even better, one day, if I’m lucky, I could find someone whose prayers for me sync up with mine for him. Kind of takes your breath away, doesn’t it?

subject line: i hope you made it out of that town where nothing ever happened


Agloe, New York

She danced into the room, and I could feel his heart stop beating; she moved all that he was. He looked at her with the kind of look every good girl is told to hold out for, and I watched it on his face as he held my hand.

I waited in his bed while he waited for her.

So you can imagine the extent of our tortured souls the morning a whole town woke up to the news that she’d passed away in an accident in the night.

There we were: me choosing him over and over, and him hanging in the deafening sound of never knowing if she would’ve chosen him.

We were black clothes and funerals and the buzzing noise of blinking hospital waiting room lights; we were leather jackets and cheap frozen cookies in the early morning hours; he was hands in my hair while I drove, and he was the sound of slamming car doors after I’d told him that it’s been two years and I was in love with him again.

You see, I found rest at his feet because he was familiar with getting left, too. I think, for him, I was just the girl that made him feel like he’d finally made it out of small town life.

Have you ever met someone who got dealt the same sour lemons as you, and they learned how to make lemonade a little differently, and you thought that meant you’d be good for each other? That was me and him.

Except, I think he showed me what it looked like to throw all your hope into the slight chance of maybe being chosen. Because there’s that hope in the middle of the night that we’ll all find someone to choose us— that’s the promise, right? But there’s this nagging, teasing feeling of hanging onto the “maybes,” the “there’s still a chance it might be you,” moments.

That’s the real trap, I think. That’s what really guts you. It’s not the rejection, the loneliness, the waiting, the being second choice. No, it’s the shutting door that gets left open just a crack. It’s when the sentence ends with a semi colon. It’s the chance that it could all turn around and end up in your favor.

So there we were: me sitting on the edge of my seat for him, and him thinking she died torn about whether or not to choose him.

When I think about it all now, I go back to the afternoon when I was taking a walk, and he called to tell me that he’d be moving across the country for work. He didn’t know if he should take it, and he said it was because of the way it would hurt me. Who knows what was going through his head, but I think the last thing he expected to hear from me was, “You should take it.” And if I could go back and shed some light on the situation, offer up some advice or final wishes, I’d say: If this whole life is just sets of choices that lead to our happiness or our lonelieness, then choose the people who choose you back. It’s an art, and we should all learn how to be a little more fluent in it.

subject line: this is living


Oklahoma City

I got breakfast with a friend and her kids this morning. The kids were crazy and loud and she kept apologizing, but I love it. It just sounds like life, you know? I watched her wrangle kids around and hoped that someday I can be half the mom she is. Then I walked around with the littlest one and made my friend EAT because seriously, moms, you deserve to eat your food sometimes. I stopped by another friend’s house and brought her flowers just because. We sipped coffee and talked for hours and folded laundry while I laughed at the way she folds her t-shirts. Her husband came home for lunch and the three of us debated about whether or not baking bread was hard. I went home and studied with the windows open and noticed how the air felt like Spring today. My mom stopped by for dinner. I went to the grocery store and took my time. I meandered in the fancy cheese aisle for a bit, which I’ve never done, and I’ve never thought cheese seemed like art until that aisle never seemed to end and I felt like I was in a cheese museum. Seriously, there are so many kinds of gourmet cheeses and some of them are so pretty! Anyways, I’m almost done with all of my homework…on time….with time to spare….which has been a rarity for me in this grad school program. Today has been the most mundane and simplest, slow day.

You know those days that are so simple but you just feel so thankful for the way everything feels right in your little world? Life has been bitter and life has been sweet and life always will. But today felt like everything that has ever shifted in my life has settled in all the right places, and I’m thankful. I am so, so thankful.

subject line: another birthday you'll never have


Oklahoma City

In a few short hours you would have been 27. I wonder if I’ll ever not feel angry on this day. There are 2 dates on your gravestone—every year the one to the right of the dash makes me sad. And every year the one to the left makes me angry. I think your birthday makes me angry because, while the anniversary of your death has always been a reminder of what was taken, your birthday always seems to be a blatant reminder of all the things you’ll never get to do. Buy a house, become a pilot, marry me...or someone else. We’ll never know so many things and maybe one day that won’t make me angry. But today doesn’t seem like that day. I bet 27 would have been a really good year. I miss you.