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To the Student Who Has to Go to School Virtually in an Unsafe Home

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There is no good way to start this letter. This is an incredibly hard situation, and I do not dare fool myself into thinking I can start off with a cheery sentence that makes it all seem better. So instead, I’ll start with this: I’m sorry.

I’m sorry you don’t have a home you can feel safe in.

I’m sorry this pandemic has taken away what very well may have been the only place you felt safe.

I’m sorry you have to go through this.

I’m sorry it’s so hard.

Now, I will also say that hard does not mean impossible, and the fact that you have made it this far tells me that you are much stronger than you likely believe yourself to be. Believe me, I know no part of this is easy, but I believe in you, and I hope you can believe in yourself too.

That said, as someone who was homeschooled in an unsafe home environment, I want to share some things that might make this a bit more bearable.

Find times to get out if you can do so safely. Even a few minutes of sitting in the backyard can make a world of difference. Fresh air and space to clear your head are important, so take opportunities to get both whenever you can.

Remind yourself that this is temporary. I know it feels like forever when you’re in it, but at some point, this too shall pass. There is an end to this tunnel and there is a light down there, even if you can’t see it.

As for your classes themselves, try to do what you can in a room by yourself. I know that’s easier said than done sometimes, but I also know it’s hard to think when there’s someone who makes you feel unsafe in that same space. If you feel comfortable doing so, give your teachers some idea about your situation. They’ll likely try to work with you and do what they can to help.

When you’re working, remember to take breaks. It might help to listen to music while you work, as long as it isn’t too distracting. Have snacks and water handy when you need them. Remember to take care of yourself. You are more important than any class will ever be, so if it feels like you’re stuck choosing between a class and yourself, please choose yourself. Every time. No exceptions. You are worth it, even if it doesn’t feel like you are. Find things you can do to take time for yourself.

For me, that used to be locking myself in my bathroom, braiding my hair until I calmed down and then undoing the braid before I went back out. It sucked to have to hide basic self-care, but ultimately it was those types of little things that helped me regulate how I was feeling enough to keep going.

And of course, above all else, please stay safe as much as you can. There are resources you can reach out to if you need them. I know that’s hard, too, but please know you aren’t alone in this. Your safety comes first — whatever that looks like for you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.

Even the darkest storms won’t last forever. You’ve got this.

Getty image via patat

Originally published: August 5, 2020
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