Letters in Time


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There are times when my 36-something self wonders what she would say to my adolescent-teenaged-twenty-something-self if only she could mail a letter through a worm-hole back into time.

Would I tell myself to have not succumbed to “cool”; to have walked down mall hallways side-by-side with my parents without shame or fear that peers would see me as reliant, dependent and even perhaps, loving in the context of my family unit?

Would I tell myself to have only sought after friendships that are fun, easy, full of party and never with turmoil because somewhere along the line, we are taught that mostly “pleasant” is what we deserve?

Would I have wished upon myself a more focused path from an early age so that self-definitions about who I am, what I am doing or where I am headed are more palatable to societies’ definitions of “norm” in the context of now? How tiring does it get to constantly explain, “Nope. 36. Single and figuring it out. But I’m okay with that—are you?”

Would I have told myself to be patient with this crazy thing called growing up? To cherish innocence while it still exists; to believe in magic while your heart isn’t soured by cynicism and weathered and warped with time? To have fun and date lots of men that are “right for right now” instead of getting entangled in this nutty notion of “The One” before I was barely even mature or self-aware?

Would I tell myself to have avoided the relationships that wounded my heart, left gashes from deep betrayal, and rejected me from unrequited emotion? Would I have told myself to love more conservatively; with restrain and caution because pain is an emotion that easily gets caught in your throat; tears up the lining in your esophagus as you dryly attempt to swallow and no good can come from that jagged little pill?

I have spent my whole life up until now living under the mantra of “No Regrets.” And that mentality has allowed me to try many things, to titillate many guises, to live under many roofs and to try on many hats. Without mentioning that “No Regrets” is also carte blanche to be wishy-washy and move on without ever sticking things through to the bitter end.

The truth is, I have regrets. Plenty of them. But in all of the mistakes that I’ve made along the way, I think I might be learning a few things:

I’ve learned that honesty is not a gift that you give or a favor that you do for someone. Honesty is something that you believe in.  That you try to uphold no matter what.

I’ve learned that trust is not flexible. There is no grey zone. No conditions. It either is or it isn’t and you make the choice of where trust stands.  That one, for me, is the hardest. The jury is still out, folks.  But I’m working on it.

Forgiveness makes us recognize our foibles and our shortcomings; the innate truth that to err is human. Forgiveness gives us the ability to heal, because in our capacity to hurt or be hurt and yet, still find the hubris and compassion to move forward, we discover strength and the remarkable resilience of the human spirit.

So, I’m giving up the mantra of “No Regrets” because “No Regrets” implies no mistakes. And I want to fuck things up.

Would I tell myself to do things differently?

Nah….Jen, you did it exactly right.

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