A collection of love letters to my past, present and future selves.
To the reader: This piece may not be for everyone but for those who understand my story, I believe you. I never grasped how powerful those three words were until someone extended their compassion and I was relieved. So, I believe you. Take that as you wish. With that, I want to emphasize that I can never 100 percent encapsulate my feelings. Jeffrrey Burton Russell [wrote] that as the sign of a deeper, truth, metaphor was close to sacrament. Because the vastness and richness of reality cannot be expressed in the overt sense of a statement itself. Therefore, come with me on this journey open-minded and look inward about what this piece reveals about you. On another note, I cannot keep writing without acknowledging all the people I have hurt. If I have caused you pain, I am sorry. I’ve written this over and over again trying to say the ‘“right thing.”’
Perhaps it goes something like this: It’s in the back of my mind. The pain I’ve caused. To remind myself, I can blossom into a self that can eventually hold multiple truths. Therefore, I am sorry for my past self’s actions, my present self is taking day by day to unlearn a life of policing, body-shaming, insecurities and my future self is waiting patiently. I hope you can forgive me and we can grab a coffee/tea sometime.
I knew the exact moment I had to write these love letters. Earlier this year, I was cleaning out my email and came across ancient email notifications from Facebook. I know what they consisted of. Bullying, gaslighting, harassment and all the horrible memories my trauma buried with it. I had to write these love letters to myself to recognize that my very existence is resistance. Every breath I take, I guarantee another hour, day, year, century of another future possible. I am telling a love story. For me, for you, for us.
I want to thank this digital space to allow me to express myself and for you, the reader. Some of these memories had to be dug up, rediscovered and finally told. Thank you.
To my younger self,
I think you knew pain and grief too soon, a six-year-old should never have to grieve for her grandmother. I wish I could have held you tighter and reassured you that abuelita loves you in ways that are not always recognizable. When the wind whistles, she’s applauding all you’ve done with your day. Before you rest, she tucks you in and wishes you wonderful dreams. When you cry, she hugs you until the very last tear. Remember, little one, this is just the beginning and you are resilient! It’s okay to cry and take your time to heal. I love you.
To my 12 year old self,
I always thought that because of the way I’ve been hurt that I would always care for others with such intensity that they never would have to endure the pain I went through. I’m sure I have this written down somewhere in an old, barely used journal.
I am really sorry for those who didn’t believe you.
I believe you!
I am sorry for those who made you doubt yourself.
I never doubt all the amazing things you will do!
I am sorry for those who made you hate yourself.
I don’t hate you, I LOVE YOU!
I am sorry for those who shamed your beautiful body full of breath and life.
At 12 years old, a survivor, a baby queer and the whole world pressing down on your chest, forcing you to accept these lies as truths. These were the worst days.
These memories are a cluster to me. These events did happen, but the time frame of it all remains a blur. It just was. Because in the near future, I did wake up and saw a glowing light in myself. That was when I became acquainted with pain and learned how it could transcend into change. Perhaps, we changed in ways that were to protect ourselves and that is fine. The most important part of that change was you realized your worth. Your strength and how much you mattered in this world. So now, we care for other with even more intensity and within that intensity is the love and care for ourselves too. I love you.
To my present self,
We are here. This year is special for us. We are 21 and living the future we never thought we’d make it to. This year is special.
Neyla Soriano was a good friend of mine and she showed me so much about who I wanted to become. So this year is special because we miss Neyla and all those who have taken their lives. Neyla brought so much love and laughter into this world; therefore, I’ve made it to 21 and this year I shed tears of love and laughter for Neyla. For today.
I’ve made it to 21 and I am full of possibilities and choices.
I’ve made it to 21 and I am worth fighting for.
I’ve made it to 21 and my life is precious.
I am 21 and I am healing.
A good friend once told me, healing isn’t linear. I hold this tenderly into each new day and know I am on my way. Never taking steps back or ruining my progress because my healing does work within the binary of good and bad. My healing is.
I am 21 and I don’t need to be fixed because that insinuates that there is something broken with me.
To my future selves,
I am at peace with myself and to those who have hurt me. I instead celebrate my existence, filled with joy. My wonderful existence.
As a futurist, I have the capacity to dream endless possibilities of what I will, who I will love, and what will become of all this love.
I imagine a future where everyone feels loved by themselves, by someone else and through community.
I imagine a future with collective liberation.
I imagine a future with no white supremacy.
I imagine a future with no -isms.
I imagine a future with more platonic love.
I imagine a future with more trans and queer people.
I imagine a future with mutual aid.
I imagine a world with accountability.
I imagine a world with good apologies.
I imagine a world with harm reduction and decolonized mental health.
I imagine collective liberation.
I imagine a world where we care for the earth and nature as much as she does for us.
A reciprocal relationship with the ocean, the clouds and the galaxies.
I can imagine a future where I can love my mind, my spirit, my heart, my body, my soul fully because I can imagine another is possible. That is my love story. To love, imagine and dream.
Header image by Yusra Shah