eleven years too late

If I could, I would go back in time. I would go back and seek out the 16-year-old version of me. The one who didn’t quite know herself. Didn’t quite believe in herself. Didn’t quite love herself, but did manage to fall helplessly in love with you.

If I could, I would find her and tell her about you. Warn her about you. Let her know that she can love you with all her heart, but you’re going to break it just the same.

But she would go on and love you anyway. Because some things she’ll just have to learn on her own.

If I could, I’d go back in time and talk to my 18-year-old self. The one who gave you everything she had. Every ounce of intimacy. Then watched as you flirted with other girls at your high school. And felt her heart break for the first, but not the last, time.

If I could, I’d tell her it’s okay to feel broken. And it’s okay to ache. I’d tell her that time does heal, but she’ll never be the same. I’d tell her being lost for a while is the only chance she ever has of being found.

But she’d ignore me anyway. And she’d cling to you. Because some mistakes are worth making.

If I could, I would go back in time and seek out my 20-year-old self. The one who looked in the mirror and decided to see beauty. The one who discovered being herself filled her up with infinitely more joy than living up to everyone else’s expectations.

If I could, I’d tell her that you cheating on her had nothing to do with her weight. Or the size of her bra. I’d tell her that the details are even worse than what she’s imagining in her head. I’d tell her that turning her back on you would be the hardest thing she’d ever do, but her future self would be forever grateful.

But she’d stay by your adulterous side. Sweeping up the pieces shattered around her feet. Hoping for the best. Because that sweet little girl’s tragic flaw was always relentlessly following her heart.

If I could, I would go back in time in search of my 22-year-old self. The one who finally saw all she was worth. And all she deserved. The brave girl who stood her ground and said, no more. No more.

If I could, I would wrap my arms around her so tightly. And I’d tell her it’s okay to be sad. And I’d tell her it’s okay to miss you. I’d tell her to let her heart weep. I’d tell her to long and mourn. I’d tell her to dwell on the loss of her first love for as long as she needed.

But she’d shut that out too. And she’d choose to never acknowledge the sadness, to never talk about the fear that maybe she was wrong. And she’d choose to let anger be the only emotion associated with you. Then she’d move on with the heavy burden of a bitter heart. Because there are some things that are worse than saying goodbye.

But this 27-year-old can’t go back. And she got here with only foolish emotions guiding her way. And all those bad decisions took their toll. And you still haunt her dreams. And that time never did come by and heal. Because she never let herself break down. And grieve the loss of a truly great love.

So to her I say, it’s not too late. And it’s still okay to think of you. It’s still okay to be sad. And it’s still okay to wonder. It’s even okay to remember. It doesn’t make her weak or pathetic. It makes her human. It makes her the woman she is. Built on the bones of her reckless 16-year-old, broken 18-year-old, devoted 20-year-old, and valiant 22-year-old selves.

She’s the glorious compilation of all the mistakes she’s ever made.

And if she’s lucky, there’ll be many more to come.

love heals all wounds

The worst part is never when something terrible happens. It’s the first time you wake up afterwards.

After my heart broke, I cried until my body ran out of tears, literally dried up my emotional well. And then I sat in my bed, knees clutched to my chest, eyes open wide – staring at nothing – and rocked. Back and forth. For hours.

I suppose at some point my conscious numbness conceded to my body and I fell asleep.

It’s waking up that’s the worst. The moment you think maybe that was just a dream, then slowly process that it wasn’t. And the realization is stabbing. And choking. As if someone is taking your insides and wringing them out like a washcloth.

But on that morning, when I woke up in my college apartment, the walls were covered with words. Words of hope. Quotes I loved. My sweet roommate snuck into my room before I woke up and filled that place of sadness with kindness and friendship and concern.

I don’t remember all of them, but I remember the largest, written in bright green across the middle of my mirror.

This too shall pass.

And despite my bloodshot eyes and knotted stomach and heavy heart, I could not help but smile.

(Image source: Modern Hepburn on Tumblr)

they say you’ll be okay

Why doesn’t anyone ever say, “You won’t be okay.”

You won’t heal. Or recover. Tomorrow won’t be better. The worst is not over. You won’t be okay.

Some things just break you. Some moments, destroy you. Some people, consume you. And you’re not just okay.

And that’s… that’s okay.

Those things, those moments, those reckless people. They define us. Shape us. They twist us and coil us like hot metal after a high-speed crash.

And we’re not okay after that. We’re not okay. We’re totaled.

But somehow we keep going. Each day the same. Not okay. Still going. We don’t heal. We don’t get better. But we just keep going.

The sun rises and sets. And our chest rises and falls. And our eyes stare blankly into the night. Just don’t stop going.

You don’t always have to be okay. Just be. Be hurt. Be angry. Faded. Sad. Destroyed. Degraded. Lost.

It’s enough. All you feel is already enough. You don’t have to be okay anymore.  Just be.