If I Could Visit Myself in the Past…

If I could visit myself in the past, I’d have a few things to say. Things Past Me didn’t know. Things Past Me couldn’t tell.

If I could visit myself in the past, I’d tell myself, “Being Thin is not the goal. Being Not Fat isn’t either.” If I could visit myself in the past, I’d tell myself to eat food when I’m hungry. “Eat,” I’d say. “Love eating. Love YOU.”

If I could visit myself in the past, I’d tell myself, “Available Time is not the same as Free Time and, in any case, you owe no one either one.”

If I could visit myself in the past, I’d tell myself to be unhappy out loud and sooner. Bottling wild depression makes it fester like closing an infectious wound. Don’t trap the poison. If I could visit myself in the past, I’d tell myself to see my doctor and try the pills. Don’t accept the stigma. Just say no to saying no to drugs. 

If I could visit myself in the past, I’d tell myself to worry less about skin cancer and more about Vitamin D. “Soak up some sun. Not ALL of it. Sunscreen is still your friend. But some. Your brain and your body will be glad.”

If I could visit myself in the past, I’d tell myself, “You didn’t spoil your kids by not spanking them or by letting them be mouthy and opinionated or by letting them swear or by letting them challenge your authority.” If I could visit myself in the past, I’d tell myself, “Your kids are going to be fucking awesome. They’re going to be the shit. Just wait. You’ll see.”

If I could visit myself in the past, I’d tell myself, “You’ll never regret skinny dipping. Not once.”

If I could visit myself in the past, I’d tell myself, “You’re trying, and trying is enough. Trying is all life is, really. It’s OK. You’re OK. Try and fail and try and fail and try. And sometimes, don’t try. Take a nap.”

If I could visit myself in the past, I’d tell myself to worry less about social norms and upholding the status quo and more about justice. Less about civility and more about compassion. Less about rocking the boat and more about reaching over the side to pull the drowning to safety. If I could visit myself in the past, I’d tell myself to learn to say, “Oh my God” sooner and also louder. OH MY GOD. To reject the lie that that’s taking God’s name in vain. To understand that it’s a prayer and that taking God’s name in vain is, instead, using God to maintain harmful power structures and to distract with pointless rules like not saying oh my God.  

If I could visit myself in the past, I’d tell myself not to worry about defending evangelicalism. Evangelicalism isn’t Jesus. And Jesus can take care of himself. He’s a big boy. “You just worry about loving your neighbor,” I’d say. “And remember your neighbor is the one hurting on the side of the road. That is all. That’s enough. The end.”

If I could visit myself in the past, I’d tell myself it is, too, worth it to buy the whole flat of strawberries. There are areas to economize, but local strawberries isn’t one. Buy all the strawberries. Eat all the strawberries. Strawberry diarrhea is the best diarrhea.

If I could visit myself in the past, I’d tell myself to quit trying to be highbrow with my reading. To quit reading literary fiction just because you think **pinky raised** lit’rature is better. No. Read what makes you happy. If that’s paranormal romance, then bring on all the vampires and werewolves. Live in those giddy, joyful, dark, delicious places. 

If I could visit myself in the past, I’d tell myself to practice the art of talking to myself kindly. Practice and practice and practice turning off the dripping tap of self-flagellation. 

If I could visit myself in the past, I’d tell myself to say no to more committees and yes to more laying under clear skies. 

If I could visit myself in the past, I’d tell myself to let my kids pack their own backpacks and lunches. Packing crap is not the measure of a mom. They can make their own damn sandwiches. 

If I could visit myself in the past, I’d foster more dogs and invite my own to sleep in my bed. The claws and the kicks are worth the snuggles. That goes for kids, too.

If I could visit myself in the past, I’d tell myself I’m not a lazy sack. “You’re not a lazy sack,” I’d say. “You’re TIRED and OVERWHELMED and cleaning the toilet just is not important right now. GOOD FOR YOU FOR SURVIVING. That is HARD, PROACTIVE, invisible work. And you are doing it. Here’s a trophy.”

So.

Off the top of my head, that’s what I’d say.

What about you? What would you tell yourself?

Waving in the dark,

 

 

 

ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
11 comments
  1. I would tell myself that what other people think of me is really, truly, not my concern.

  2. I need to read this every single day. Thank you.

  3. Thank you for this, Beth. I am having a “Don’t try. Take a nap.” kind of week, and it’s so hard. I don’t know how to do it without the self-flaggelation and the sense that all my good ideas and drive are behind me and there’s a frightening amount of nothing ahead.

  4. I’d tell myself that showing bra straps does not equal sin. And then I’d tell myself that wearing bras is overrated, and people already know I have nipples and breasts, and if they don’t, that’s not my problem. Show all the straps and let those nipples have shape below the shirt.

  5. I relate to so much of this.

    I wouldn’t tell Past Me anything because she wouldn’t listen. 😉

  6. I’d tell myself to make the art I want to make and to share it and sell it and give it away and brighten the world.

  7. Love, love, love. Waving back in the dark.

  8. I would tell Past Me that even though it feels sticky-yucky to have someone be mad at me or upset because of me, I still deserve to have boundaries and not make other people’s feelings my responsibility. I don’t need to apologize for living with integrity.

    Thank you, always, for writing.

  9. As usual-Oh. My. God! How do you do that? Say exactly what I’m thinking?! So much of your advice is soooo SPOT ON!!

  10. Much of the same

  11. Yes. This.

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