All the yous that ever were or will be.

Photo by  Eye for Ebony  on  Unsplash

Photo by Eye for Ebony on Unsplash

First, just a heads-up: the early-bird special for the NYC Desire Map workshop that I'm doing with Diana Stahl the first weekend of 2018 expires on Christmas, and I do not want you to pay full price ever - so definitely check that out. Also, please reach out to me if you're interested in this workshop but price is a barrier; I want anyone who's interested to be able to attend.
OK, now onto the post!

Hello dear one,

Happy Chrisolstikah! 

Today's post gets a little science fiction-y. Are you ready?!

This morning, I was listening to the magnificent How to Survive the End of the World podcast (seriously go listen to it right the fuck now), and their guest Alexis Pauline Gumbs said something incredible:

"I definitely don't have a linear sense of time, which is very evident in every area of my life (laughs)...The definition of being present that I have...if I'm present, everyone is here. Like, if I'm present, I have access to everyone, and every moment that's ever existed. I don't know which one of those moments I'm gonna need to connect to in order to be fully present to this moment, but I know that I have to be open to the fact that there's a simultaneity of time...I cannot be separated from that love that has generated me, you know, I'm connected to that...and also what's being generated."

She goes on to say, basically, that everything that has ever happened, or ever will happen, is already happening right now, all the time - and everything we do reverberates both forward and backward. There's no separation between your past self, present self, or future self; no separation between your ancestors and you and your descendants. All of these things already exist right now.

It wasn't a new concept to me (I was a bit of a physics nerd as a kid), but it hit me in a new way today. Maybe because I was taking a gorgeous stroll through Central Park as I was listening, and having deja vu of the last time I'd taken that walk (it's my post-therapy stroll). Maybe it was because I'd been recently reading about trauma (The Body Keeps the Score, y'all - I will never shut up about this book), and how our past selves continue to live inside our bodies and minds - something the incredible Andy Izenson reminded me of at a recent workshop.

But when I heard that today, I just felt

It meant that no matter what I might be going through right now, I'm also already the version of myself who's way past that and recovered. Not that I get to skip all the hard work that makes that future version of myself possible, but that I don't have to worry about becoming her; she already exists.

It also meant that I need to be kind to my past self and stop judging her, because she's still around to hear the shit that I talk about her.

This part is very VERY hard for me.

It's started to become painful for me to click on my Facebook Memories, because I think I just sound so STUPID. "Oh my God, I thought I was sooo hilarious," I think as I roll my eyes. I cringe at my past self's problematic language and viewpoints, her over-employment of caps lock and exclamation points, her cluelessness.

I'm angry at my past self for having spent time in abusive relationships, for having devoted herself wholeheartedly to people who weren't devoted to her, for having cared so fucking much about things I couldn't care less about now.

But as much as I might want to think that shitting on my past self demonstrates how wise and enlightened I am really doesn't.

It just means I'm shitting on a raw and vulnerable girl who's done nothing but try her best. And she doesn't deserve that.

Nor does my future self deserve the reverence and hero-worship that I project onto her. When I imagine my future self, I imagine someone who's got it all figured out, who can handle anything, who has magically solved all her problems. I idolize her and put her on a pedestal.

But pedestals leave no room for the fullness of humanity. Pedestals isolate, and they are built for falling. And my future self is so much more beautifully, humanly, messily complex than that image I have of her.

So then I'm holding future-me - still a raw, vulnerable girl who's done nothing but try her best - to an unfair, impossible standard. And she doesn't deserve that either.

As many of us might be revisiting our childhood homes this coming week, or be reminded of difficult anniversaries,
As many of us might be fielding questions from our families of origin about our plans for the future,
I encourage you to hold your past and future selves in mind with great tenderness.

Love them as though they were here right now, because they are.

If the holidays are stressful or triggering or isolating or painful for you, call upon the version of yourself that's already gotten through this difficult time.

If you fucking love the holidays and will be sad when you have to go back to regular life, remember that one version of you will always still be here in the midst of the joy.

Thank your past self for having gotten you here. Thank your future self for having stuck it out. Thank your present self for everything you're doing.

And remember to breathe.

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