What would you say to your 16 year old self?
Everything you were ready to die over was worth it.
Except for the boys. You were stupid about the boys. The boys who lied and broke your heart were totally not worth your time and energy. They were downright disgusting, really.
The rest of it, all the ways you fought and cried out, the things you ripped yourself to pieces for... the things that made you feel like you wanted to die. You were right about all of them.
There was no God. There were no prayer languages or dream visions. The Holy Spirit didn't really descend upon a congregation of 100 backwater oddities and wash them pure. There really was blackness creeping around the edge of the scenery. The little girl who peed her pants in Sunday school and made you feel sick, you knew her. She was being hurt and so were you. There aren't any demons, in the world. Only men who want to scare people and push them around.
You couldn't have known it, then. Your only windows into the world were covered with paper. Your models for living were harming themselves. You'll know it when you're grown. You'll know that all the sadness and death weren't a part of you, like you thought they were. Like you thought you were born with blackness and rot in your bones. You were fine, all along.
You talked back because you had something worth saying.
You were mad because you were right.
There were no demons on the stairs at night. There were no lights in the sky over Halloween. Men told you those things to scare you, so that you might live quietly, and without any boldness. Those men wanted to scare all of the women in the world into remaining children for the rest of their lives. They wanted to you be good and small and subservient and you weren't. You were actually born with big, giant, calcified bones and nothing those poor men used to tie you to the alter could hold you.
You weren't born wanting to die, and you won't end up that way.
Although, I suppose you will die several times in the future. You'll find yourself on the floor behind a locked bathroom door, first by force, then by way of escaping, and finally with a glowing pregnancy test in your hand. All of these things will feel like a little death. You'll be so low and so frightened that there won't be anywhere to crawl but up and out and through.
You'll take that test in the restroom at a grocery store. You'll steal it because you haven't learned all of your lessons, yet. You'll tell your sister, "I'll be right back. I just need to grab something..." and you'll rip open the packaging and bury it in a garbage can full of crumpled paper towels, and two pink lines will appear, and you'll whisper, "Holy fuck." That will be one of the ways you die, and come back to life again.
You'll have some trouble with boys, first. I wish I could save you from them, but they're too terrible and invigorating and angry. There isn't anything I could do to get you to look away. Scars and ink and rib cages that press too fully against their pale white skin, you won't like them, but you won't want to be without them, either. They are trash, though. They will kill you and you'll wait up for them until 6 in the morning, tears and snot sticking your cheek to the hardwood in a rented living room, a liquor bottle resting obviously at your fingertips, blood congealing around the bend in your wrists. You'll be murdered this way, by the fact that nobody loves you, and they don't either... but you'll make it through.
When you meet your husband, he'll be shy and drunk and all together sort of small, sitting out of the way, folded into a chair in the corner. He'll have a boyish smile and blonde hair and you'll think to yourself, "That one isn't for me," because he won't be flashy enough about his damage. In time, you'll see how he's willing to give up everything, including his breath and blood in order to disappear and to slow the pressure in his veins. Once you know him for sure, you're going to know everything, for sure and that's going to be a very big moment. Loving him will be like loving the sun or the air you breathe. It will be very easy and very wild, and mostly very important.
You'll understand the concept of a future for the first time, even if the two of you only have plans to die.
But, that stolen pregnancy test I mentioned? You'll have a daughter, and suddenly everything will be smashed to bits. All of the ideas you've piled up around you all of your life, every lie you've ever told about yourself, it will all be blasted to dust by the arrival of the world's most perfect being. You will hold your new little daughter in your arms and everything inside of you and outside of you, like your love and your brain and the power lines and the stars will be buzzing with life.
And also fear. You'll die again to your fear, because it's a very scary business being responsible for the world's only true and pure little person. But, you'll grow together, your child and your husband and you. You'll even be brave enough in your new skin someday to birth another perfect and immaculate little girl. Even after God and the moon and every boy you ever knew, even after they all failed you and gutted you and forgot their promises, you'll be happy.
You'll be safe and in love, and you'll be happy.
Hang in there, I guess. I know you will. I've been to the future, and it's better.
What would you say to your 16 year old self?