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If I Had My Life to Live Over Again...

I would have told an adult who made me feel safe that I felt uncomfortable and sick in my stomach with touches I didn’t ask for or want from others. I would have released secrets that I held onto so tightly and tried so desperately to hide, ugly secrets that made my chest feel tight and my dreams scary. I would have read more penguin books and not quit loving penguins so much just because one tried to kill me in my dream when I was young. I would have smelled more daffodils whenever they bloomed and called out my name waving their bright gold petals at me. I would have inhaled more deeply the youthful smells of hay-bales, alfalfa pellets, hot tar bubbles burst on bare feet, and fresh rain as it beat down upon the dry pavement. I would have bravely jumped into the deep end of the pool letting the water catch my fall and the bubbles push me with uncontained excitement to the surface. I would have taken more time enjoying the sibling caravans, whether on foot or by bicycle, scaling catwalks, cruising Highway 99, braving airport runways, or stopping for a shade break under Shimanek Bridge on hot summer days. I would have looked, and maybe even smiled more, at my reflection in the mirror instead of looking through it. I would have spent more time leaving my shoes behind and walking barefoot in the dirt. I would have used sunscreen instead of baby oil on my skin when sunbathing. I would stopped eating when I felt full instead of eating out of fear that there would suddenly be no more access to food. I would have fed my body with love & nutrition instead of existing for long seasons of my life on soda, candy bars and cigarettes. I would have stopped saying yes to more alcohol when my mind was already becoming fuzzy around the edges and my body was becoming heavy to move. I would have spent more time enjoying the feeling of rain falling on me instead of merely being soaked to the bone and growing miserable inside. I would have laughed more with myself when I made mistakes or looked silly in front of others instead of automatically punishing myself for being dumb, looking stupid, or not being perfect. I would have gotten back on the minibike to try again instead of being owned by shame and embarrassment for not getting it right the first time I ever tried to ride alone. I would have smiled more, felt my feelings more, and focused more on the memory being made than on the moment being spent and lost forever. I would have journaled about every stage of my pregnancies from the very first moment that my babies heard my heart beat from the inside of me- I would have taken more pictures, hugged them more from the outside, let them hear the sound of my voice in a different octave than chaos, fear, abandonment and misery. I would have held my babies longer against my chest, I would have kissed their chubby little cheeks and pouty little lips until I got my fill. I would have taken more hours in my days to snuggle my kids close, to cuddle on the couch, to read more books, to take longer walks, to sit in the cool grass, and to wish upon more stars as we walked on the sky at night. I would have worried much less about other people’s opinions & judgements and focused a hell of a lot more on how things made me feel- and not just on the outside. I would have left after the first vicious word, the first promise of harm, the first threat of assault, or the first hand that was raised to my child. I would have taken more time to learn how to identify abuse and I would have become more intentional with hiding money, storing a safe bag, and calling 911 without fear of retaliation. I would have said ‘NO’ and meant it when pornography was invited into my relationships. I would have not allowed the attention or approval or control of a man to keep me from returning to college. I would have spent more time face-to-face with a therapist and less time face down at a party or a bar. I would not have said ‘Yes’ at the times my heart, mind and spirit were screaming for me to say ‘No’. I would have broken off engagements instead of finalizing divorces. I would have joined that dance class, showed up alone for that cooking class, stepped in the door even if my knees were knocking and my stomach was sitting on the floor for those writing workshops. I would have not hidden my smiles so much that it became a trademark mannerism of mine. I would have sat with the popular crowd and not hidden myself behind the bleachers. I would have said ‘F*ck you’ when it was called for instead of saying ‘F*ck me’. I would have not picked up a cigarette when trauma resurfaced- yet again. I would have quit the pain pill cycle when I felt the very first nudging of unhealth surface mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I would have not let Jesus slip from my heart again and again. I would have spent more time at the beach and much less time at work. I would have invited more friends over- just because. I would have learned how to sing. I would have not given up on those hardest of days but instead, put on some music that spoke to my soul causing my feet to move and my booty to shake—and for my eyes to see my world in a different color. I would have gone to a lot more concerts, said ‘yes’ more to offers of dessert, and I would have made my vacations about more than duty and obligation. I would have worn a bikini instead of hiding behind a one piece or a cover up. I would have worn more high heels and less practical shoes. I would have thrown myself my own parties instead of being disappointed that no one threw parties for me. I would have bought myself my own damn drink, my own steak dinner, or my own car keys. I would have never allowed a stupid abusive boy to give away the title to my hot rod—I should have run him over with the orange VW Bug he gave me as a consolation to his control of my life. I would never hide behind the curtain of my own life, instead I would step proudly out on that damn stage. I would have kept writing… period. I would have not settled for less than I deserve. I would have treated myself like I am worthy, I am lovely, I am valuable, I am unique, I am smart, I am talented, I am wise, I am one of a kind, I am marked for greatness, and I am enough. I would have not spent so many years so far away from good morning kisses and snuggles from my silly granddaughters. I would have said ‘sorry’ sooner, ‘goodbye’ quicker, ‘I love you’ without hesitation, and hugged tighter. I would have focused less on the pain and a whole lot more on the pleasure. I would have let the kissing last beyond the first date and the sex wait it’s turn in line. I would have said ‘thank you’ more to those people who stepped into my life as angels in disguise. I would have embraced & appreciated the steppingstones, stumbling blocks, and speed bumps that kept me from destruction. I would have endured the dark nights of the soul with more faith & fortitude knowing that my redeemer has always (without fail) delivered me to something so much better. I would have let the little things go more easily & the hard times pass without my having to clutch them so tightly to me. Mostly, I would have loved Patty more. And starting today… that seems like a perfect place to start! <3

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