Dear Mrs. K,
You were the first person I ever told about the abuse. I don’t know what it was about you that felt safe. Maybe it was the way you made me feel welcome from my very first day at a new school. Maybe it was the way you stood up for me when the bullies were relentless. Maybe it was the way you looked at me, like a person worthy of love and attention.
Whatever it was, I’m glad I felt it. I’m glad I had you.
I remember passing you the note. I walked through the hallways after school, clutching it tightly in shaking hands. I remember the way you looked at me when I held it out to you, my entire body shaking. I remember having panic attacks about it, one right after the other all weekend. I remember you coming to find me in my first hour class on Monday.
You hugged me like no one had ever hugged me before. I was sure that your hug was capable of molding all my broken parts back together.
But what stuck out to me most, what I still remember to this day, was how you treated me afterward. With the same love and gentleness you treated me on that first day of 7th grade. With the same love and gentleness you treated me with when I was having a bad anxiety day. The same love and gentleness from the day I handed you the note.
Your compassion toward me didn’t change when you knew one of my deepest, darkest secrets. I was still welcome. I was still defended from bullies. I was still one of your beloved students. You treated me the same in the time after you knew as you treated me before.
Thank you for that.