15 Things I Should Have Said When I Was 16

1. No. No, I don’t want to. No, I don’t have to. No, I don’t miss you, and no, I no longer love you. No, I will not allow you to manipulate me any longer. I will not let you kiss my neck and tell me you love me when my bones turn to dust at the mere idea of you ever revisiting a place you once called home. No, I’m not your fucking home.

2. Yes. Yes, I need you, and yes, I love you. Yes, I was wrong.

3. It’s worth it. You’re worth it. You’re worth your best days, and you’re worth your worst days. It’s worth it to try; he’s worthy of forgiveness. She’s worth more than the lies she told you and the candy cigarettes she singed you with, and you’re worth more than flicking the coal back in her direction.

4. I’m sorry. I’m sorry I ever made you think you were less than every daisy in the field I forlornly laid in upon you leaving.

5. I love(d) you. I loved you then. I love you now. I love you forever and always. I loved you recklessly.

6. Live in the moment. Relish in the downpour; take every chance you’ve got to make a snow angel, because as it melts away, your demons will be revealed and reminiscence will be all you have. Hold his hand a little tighter and kiss his lips a little softer—soon you will miss them.

7. Stop. Get your hand off my thigh. Stop. I am going to stop drinking. The next time I lock eyes with myself in the dusty reflection beneath me, I will see young eyes beneath the snow-capped mountains, and I will stop to ask myself how she would feel. I will stop.

8. Thank you. Thanks, Mom, for rescuing me time and time again and for giving me the stuffed dog I wailed into the night I was no longer his. Thanks, Dad, for unknowingly picking me up each time I fell. Thank you for taking the training wheels away from me at such a young, tired age, for it taught me to only fear inadequacy and to embrace the bruises. Thank you.

9. Keep going. You haven’t lost until you’ve given up. Keep going on the assignment that you swear you’ll never finish, keep going for the career you swear you’ll never have, keep going for the boy you swear it will never work out with. It will all work itself out. I promise.

10. Love. Love deeply, love dangerously, love freely, love honestly. Love your mother even when she’s said the same thing countless times; love your father when it seems like he just doesn’t understand your bottled up angst. Love does not equate to vulnerability.

11. It’s okay. It’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to take a little longer getting ready in the morning because half of the fight was just letting your feet hit the floor and reminding yourself that you lived to greet another empty morning. It’s okay to just be okay.

12. I want to leave. I want to leave this party. I want to leave you. I want to leave the notion that I am comparable to anyone else in the past. I want to leave the old me rooted in the ground, the decaying petals allowing new life to sprout from the ruins. I want to leave and find beauty in new places and people and things that are not destroying me from the inside out. I want to leave.

13. Go ahead. Go ahead and leave. Go ahead and chase your dead end dreams. Go ahead, walk away, come here, stay, leave, make up your mind and go ahead. Go ahead because I need to go ahead too.

14. Goodbye. Goodbye to the girl that cried every time she locked eyes with ones that were led astray, goodbye to old habits and new ways to engage in them, goodbye to the fleeting thoughts of mistreating the only body that you have, goodbye to those who thought I wasn’t worth fighting for, and goodbye to the notion that I needed anyone in the first place. It is okay to walk away.

15. It’ll pass. It’ll pass and the sun will shine again and you’ll open your window and breathe in the crisp air and repeat to yourself “I made it” until gratitude courses through your veins and a smile graces your face and you’re dancing in your socks at 10 in the morning. It’ll pass, and you’ll forget his name but start to find the beauty in your own. It will heal, it will pass, and you’ll come out stronger than you ever could have known. It’ll pass, as time does, and you’ll be nostalgic for hands that are too calloused to hold yours, and voices that no longer call out for you. For friends that have gone, for family that has changed, for moments that seemed to last forever but now exist only in fractals. Hold onto it. Then let it pass.