ashley pate you are a diamond.

I don’t think it’s sunk in completely that you’re gone. I come home and it’s quiet. There’s not 20 teenagers running through the house eating all of our food. You’re not blaring loud punk rock from your room. There’s no screaming and yelling… there’s no noise. As I sit here in your empty room and stare at your walls and see everything that I’ve passed down to you. Posters, dreamcatchers, artwork I’ve drawn, old memories that I have given you. I look around and see your smashed mirror and I just want to know where it all went wrong. I feel like I blinked and my innocent little sister was now a very angry and lost stranger. I feel like I don’t know who you are anymore. I feel like you hate me for all the times I’ve run off and told mom that you were high, or you snuck out or skipped school. I know you can’t confide in me anymore because I don’t keep your secrets. I hate myself for that. But I only wanted to help you Ashley, I love you so much and you don’t even know how much it hurts me to see you walking the same path that I went down. All your anger and all your hate, I understand it. We grew up in the same house under the same conditions and every mistake you’re making I’ve made myself. You have no idea how much it hurts to watch you lose yourself like I did, to see the hate in your eyes and to understand why. You don’t know how much it hurts to feel like this is my fault, like I could have somehow prevented this. I feel like I’ve been too busy with my own life and now it’s too late.

It’s all too late. You are in Utah, at Diamond Ranch Academy. I would say I can’t imagine the pain and abandonment and lonliness you are experiencing right now but I can. I’ve been there. Right now you are sitting on the ground outside with a huge lump in your throat, feeling like you are alone in this world. Sorrounded by strangers telling you to get up and work. Maybe you are planning your escape, like I was, or planning to steal a staff’s cell phone and call mom and beg her to get you out of there. Or maybe you are sitting with a counselor or staff member and they are explaining to you that you can’t talk to your family and you can’t see us for at least a few months. That you aren’t even going to be home for at least 10 months. I don't  know what you’re doing right now all I know is that you at least have the comfort of knowing that I’ve sat exactly where you’re sitting. I’ve slept in that dorm, I’ve eaten in that cafeteria, and I’ve faced every challenge you are facing. The people that work there know me and remember me and I hope that at least can give you a feeling that brings you a little closer to home. At least you know that I went through this Ashley, and I made it out alive. You can too, I believe in you. 

The hardest part is not knowing if you are going to hate me when you come back. All I want to do is talk to you and tell you you’re going to make it and everything will get better. The lonliness is the hardest part, it will get easier with time. I just want to be there with you, holding your hand and teaching you things to make your program easier. I wish I could be there with you guiding you through this like a big sister should be. But I can’t all I can do is sit here on your bed and cry. Writing letters on the internet that you’re never going to read. I love you so much and I’m so sorry this is happening. I hope one day you can forgive mom and your dad. I hope one day you can forgive me because I want that more than anything. I just want you to be happy and to pick yourself up and experience life without destroying yourself. The metaphor they use at Diamond Ranch Academy is that you are a coal, and through intense pressure, heat, and hard conditions you will transform into a diamond. You are already a diamond Ashley, please come home soon. This house is empty without you. I love you.

-Your big sister.