“The biggest struggle of our relationship was definitely to try and make long distance work. We really fought for each other and for our future together. We sacrificed all our spare time to talk to each other every single day. We planned future visits, wrote each other letters and supported each other to get through it all. On a more personal level, we both dealt with depression, feeling out of place and a lot of loss and grief.

Tommy: I lost my aunt, grandfather, stepfather, the dog I grew up with and my only sister in the last two years, all except for the dog to cancer. The only way to get through all that is with lots of time, patience, and love. Staying focused on my goals also helps me a lot.

I’m still dealing with it, things like this don’t really get easier they just get more manageable over time. Right now I’m at a point where I can see the good things in life again. I am able to see that I do deserve good things and everything that happened motivates me to go and get it, life really is too short. It took a long time to get to this point though; I did slip into depression and everything that happened definitely changed me. I didn’t believe in anything anymore. Being with someone who truly loves and understands you and has the patience to stay with you is key I think. Djamila helped me so much.

For those who are experiencing similar heartbreak; don’t bottle things up, talk to someone you trust or even write it down. It’s ok to feel the way you feel, be gentle with yourself and take all the time you need.

Djamila: My sister has been battling mental illness for the biggest part of her life. Growing up with that was really tough, trying to maintain a relationship with her may be even tougher. It’s a process, and for my own wellbeing, I have chosen to limit contact with her for now. All I can do is send her love and hope she finds her way one day.

So incredibly much has happened with my sister and I just got hurt over and over again. I watched my parents get hurt over and over again. I won’t elaborate too much since that is not my story to tell. For more than a decade now it’s been a struggle to be there for her and to also be there for myself. Often I felt so guilty for not wanting to speak to her, because she is my ‘little’ sister and I will always love her.

But I am thankful that I grew into a person who realizes that her happiness is not my responsibility, it is hers and hers alone. As I am the only person responsible for my happiness.

I can’t be as present in her life anymore because she drains me to the point where I am no good to anyone anymore. That’s why at this point all I can do is send her love and light. Luckily my family never judged me for my decision, but I don’t think my sister will ever fully understand it. To anyone going through something similar; remember that you are not responsible for anyone’s happiness but your own.

Choosing to see your own worth does not make you selfish it makes you strong. Because only when you are good to yourself, you can truly be of service to others.”




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