Dear Past Me,
I hate to be the one to tell you this, but those aren’t orgasms. You’ll learn this years down the road when you finally get your medication cocktail right, and you discover that you’re deserving of pleasure. You have a lot of learning to do, and you’ll get there eventually. Trust me, things will start to feel a lot better soon, and you won’t have to fake it anymore, even if in your heart of hearts, you feel like it’s sincere. Those moans aren’t real. Soon you’ll learn what it’s like to laugh during sex, for all the right reasons. We won’t get there without some tears, though.
I can’t say right now that I’m where you wanted to be at twenty-six, but things have been a lot worse (sorry about that). And, looking back, you and I have done some pretty cool things together. We backpacked through Europe alone at nineteen, we moved across the country, we’ve spent hours and hours writing in cafes, we’ve made beautiful friendships, and we’ve loved very, very deeply. I will admit, though, that so much of me wants to give you warnings about the bad stuff, so you can handle it more tactfully than I did. I want to scream at you not to let go of that person, not to love that person, not to get that tattoo, and to tone it down with the drugs and alcohol, but I know better than anyone that at sixteen years old, you won’t listen—you’re too busy combing your bangs in front of your eyes and flailing around in mosh pits truly believingthatthis is not a phase.
So instead, let me tell you this: you are deserving of love. Not just the kind you receive from others, but the kind that, at twenty-six, you’re only just learning you can, and should, give yourself. You deserve to be medicated because it gives you a better life, or a life at all. You deserve to change high schools three times so you can learn in a way that’s best for you. You deserve those times you’ll tell people you’re busy when you really just stay in bed to watch Friends for the umpteenth time. You deserve to run your hands over the waves under your t-shirt and think they’re just as beautiful as the ones that belong to the sea. You deserve the help you’ll eventually ask for, and you deserve the arms that catch you, when at twenty-five, you’ll meet the walls of the psychiatric ward for the first time. You deserve to touch yourself and let yourself moan—I mean reallymoan—because you’ve become very good at what you do after learning what orgasms really are, and you deserve the medication changes you fought for so you could finally enjoy what you considered a luxury you hadn’t earned for so long. You deserve the day you’ll finally look in the mirror and be okay with the person looking back—we haven’t gotten there yet, but we will, like we have with so many other things.
As I’m sitting on my couch in my downtown bachelor apartment literally weeping because this is the first time I’ve ever said any of this to myself, I’m realizing that I also need to tell you this: you deserved the tough love too. Your mother reserved every right to tell you not to go to that party. That one time Dad yelled at you, he was right. In fact, you had it pretty good. You were among few teens who could waltz in (or rather, stumble in), to their parents’ bedroom at midnight drunk out of their mind and live to tell the tale. It turns out, youwere actually wrong sometimes. It’s not the end of the world though, trust me on this one.
I know you feel like missing that party will be the end of your life as you know it. I know you truly believe deep in your soul that if you don’t get to see that band you will die, but I’m here now to tell you that they sucked anyway. Missing out on seeing a whiny twenty-something year old boy in too-tight pants spewing nasal-y emo ballads into a microphone was probably actually good for you. You’ll be okay without it, I promise.
Truthfully, I could continue writing this letter for pages and pages, and give you lists and lists of dos and do nots, but maybe I’ll keep those thoughts to my current self, because I know I can’t change any of it. I could leave you with fancy words of wisdom and try to act like I have my shit together now, but we’d both know that isn’t true. So just be kind to yourself, kid. Some things arejust as bad as they seem, but some things aren’t. In the end, you survive it all.
Holly Taylor is an aspiring poet from Ottawa, Canada. When she’s not writing, Holly can be found planning adventures (like her upcoming move to Paris), reading, spending time outside, and spending time with the people she loves. She is also passionate about feminism and mental health advocacy and awareness. Her poetry can be found on her Instagram page, @hollytaylorwrites