“If I could turn back time…” So goes the song. So sings my heart. So cries my soul.
If I could turn back time, I would tell someone. And I would tell someone else. And I would tell another person and another and another until someone listened and removed me from my parent’s home. I would tell them about the sexual abuse. The physical abuse. The neglect. The rejection and constant deriding. The emotional abuse. I would speak up and keep speaking until someone heard me. Until they took me seriously. Until someone helped me.
If I could turn back time, I would get help a lot earlier. I started so late. So late, it was too late. The brokenness had become total and it calcified. Cemented into place; impossible to dislodge. Instead, I would find someone who could help me untangle the knots and mend the brokenness. Who could go with me into the depths of what happened to me and bring me out the other side. I wouldn’t put it off, thinking there was time…later. I would pursue healing relentlessly, with extreme urgency, doing whatever I had to do to make it happen. Because being healed would have changed the course of my life. In a good way. It would have taken me into a new and healthy dimension where real life was possible. So I would have sacrificed whatever I had to sacrifice early in life to pursue wholeness and not given up until I found it.
If I could turn back time, I would never have gotten married at age 17. And I wouldn’t have married again at 25. At least not to the person I married. And if I did somehow marry him, when he told me he didn’t love me, I would have filed for divorce right away. I wouldn’t have wasted a lifetime hoping he would someday, somehow come to love and want me.
If I could turn back time, I would have gone to college. When I was young and just out of high school. Lived on campus. The whole experience.
I would move to a place I really wanted to live when I was young and started making my life there. Not wasting time living where it worked. I would go to the place I wanted to be and find ways to make it work, even if it was hard initially.
I wouldn’t have worked jobs that demeaned and demoralized me. I would have pursued fulfilling work instead. Pursuing my dreams. While I still had dreams. And hope. And a future ahead of me.
If I could turn back time, I would save more money and spend more on the things that create memories with those I love.
If I could turn back time, I would surround myself with those people…the ones who live in my heart and bring joy into my life by simply being. I would work harder at being real and vulnerable and truly connecting with others instead of hiding and pretending and trying to fit in with the crowd. I wouldn’t close myself away in darkness or shroud myself with shame that I wore like skin. A skin I grew into while still very young. Because of the abuse. I would tell myself over and over again that it wasn’t my fault. Until I believed it. Until I knew without doubt that what was done to me doesn’t mean I should be ashamed. My past wouldn’t be something to hide. It’s my reality. My history. So I would stop hiding and begin to connect with those special people in a real and genuine way. Being transparent, vulnerable, open and building deep connections would be my priority. If I had another chance to do it over.
If I could turn back time, I would listen more to my heart and less to my brain.
I would try more things that I really wanted to try, even if I was afraid of failing, looking stupid and making mistakes. I would kayak and kick-box and learn a martial art. I would dance often. I would visit the ocean frequently. I would live where there was lots of sunshine. I would ride in a hot air balloon, even if I had to save up for a long time to afford the pleasure. I would take more classes on subjects that were of interest to me. I would sing more. Write that book. Publish those poems. I would risk and not let fear rule my choices.
If I could turn back time, I would hold on to each moment. Live it. Fully experience each day. The pain and the joy. The fun and the difficulties. I would be present in the present and tattoo each experience on my brain for later enjoyment. For later contemplation. I would fill my memory bag with experiences so when I looked back, the years would not have disappeared in an unending monotony. There would be more happy memories and less regrets. More to recall. More to remember.
I’m sure I would still make mistakes. But I think I would make smaller ones, having learned some hard lessons the costly way. I wouldn’t make so many of the huge monumental errors that erode the quality of life in such a significant way. I wouldn’t let life…or the people in my life…walk all over me and tell me I didn’t matter. I wouldn’t accept being a worthless object to be used and cast aside when inconvenient or not operating up to user expectations. No, having worked hard early on to find a place of wholeness, I would believe in myself and in my own worth, so I would stand up for myself. And take action when needed. Action that indicated my value. Action that demanded respect. I wouldn’t be beaten down and settle for being tolerated. If needed, I would move on. Cut my losses. Find a healthier path.
If I could turn back time, I would understand the value of the minutes that were sifting silently through my hand and I would cling to each one. I wouldn’t live for tomorrow. I would live for today. Milking each moment for every drop of happiness I could find. I would dance in the rain and soak up the sunshine. I would follow my dreams. I would refuse to be numbed by the blows. I would feel each emotion, deep, small, hurtful, joyful. I would face the damage and rebuild when I was young and strong and more pliable. And continue to rebuild throughout my existence, repairing, refinishing, refurbishing, restoring. I would not settle for second best.
I would give my heart only to those who gave their heart also to me. Not casting my pearls before swine. Understanding that my heart was a pearl. That life was a treasure. And that I needed to spend it carefully.
If I could turn back time, I wouldn’t be sitting in a dark room alone but for my dogs, surrounded by regrets and loss and pain. I would be a different person in a different place living a very different life. Silence wouldn’t accompany me throughout my days. There would be laughter and tears and conversation. My world would not be empty. It would be full of all that a life well lived offers. I’m sure of it! I would understand so much more clearly what was at stake and therefore, would act accordingly. I would be the person I was meant to be, before the wounding, abuse, rejection and destruction. I would be fully alive. Finally.
If only I could turn back time. If only there was such a thing as a second chance.