I Wish Someone Had Told Me

“I wish someone had told me to take care of my body, to use it or lose it, to move my energy from my brain down into my body earlier, sooner, that one day, the habit of not doing so would be so ingrained, it would be too late.

I wish someone had told me that there are no such things as mistakes in life, only wrong turns that lead to new destinations.

I wish someone had told me that letting go is better than holding on, that surrender beats grasping any day.

I wish someone had told me that I didn’t have to be afraid.

I wish someone had told me to say “No,” to say it loudly and often when I was young and big busted and walked through the world a target to the desires of men.

I wish someone had told me that I would one day be an adult and that my world would extend beyond Long Branch, New Jersey and the prison of Long Branch Senior High.

I wish someone had told me that I was enough. That I would have enough. That I would be enough. That I already was enough.

I wish someone had told me that people matter more than work, more than things, more than my own thoughts.

I wish someone had told me that saying I’m sorry wouldn’t kill me, and that in fact, it is the lubrication that makes love possible.

I wish someone had told me that it’s more important to have fun and to know pleasure than it is to accomplish things in the world.

I wish someone had told me to let go.”

–Laura Davis, writing practice

What do you wish someone had told you? Begin with the words, “I wish someone had told me…”

Comments

  1. cissy says

    I wish someone had told me that it’s not cruel to say no, that protecting your own energy and vital life force is as important as keeping the front door closed when the A/C is on and there’s a heat wave.

    I wish someone had told me that it’s possible to waste energy, even if your intentions are good and to treat it like a precious resource.

    I wish someone had told me that giving all of myself away, in some silent bargain that someone would give all of themselves away to take care of me, is no bargain.

    I wish someone had told me how to take care of myself and what that looked like starting at 6 a.m. and making a breakfast I sit down for all the way through to how to keep clean sheets to crawl into at night.

    I wish someone had told me that tears aren’t terrifying or toxic or shameful.

    I wish someone had told me that it’s o.k. to dwell and remember, that no one ever tires of hearing how lovely the apple pie tasted or smelled no matter how many times they hear it but we’re all a little more uncomfortable when the memories are painful. Still, you aren’t flawed or beyond help if your mind reroutes to pain and circles bad memories, that’s just your apple pie and it’s o.k. to wish that trauma were apple pie instead but I wish someone had told me that wishing won’t make it so.

    I wish someone had told me that I can never make apple pie childhood but I can make apple pie RIGHT NOW, today, and sometimes I can taste the sweetness and the ripeness and even appreciate the apple’s bruises BECAUSE my childhood wasn’t apple pie.

    I wish someone had told me that everyone, including me, does the best they can and it isn’t always enough, in the moment or what you need, in the experience and that makes them, and us, human.

    I wish someone had told me that it’s possible to get what you need from a different water faucet it the one in your home is broken and there’s no water coming from it.

    I wish someone had told me that my right to water wasn’t defined by the broken faucet in my life or self.

    I wish someone had told me that I had value, not because of what I did or accomplished, or overcame but because my heart beats and I breathe.

    I wish someone had told me my tears won’t break me, they are actually the water that is needed for the seeds in my soul desperately trying to take root.

    I wish someone had told me that when I’m in pain, I looked pissed off, not hurt and it makes people want to move away from me when I need them most to sit beside me, hold my hand and climb the wall I didn’t even know I had erected.

    I wish someone had told me, “You don’t scare me” when I tried to scare them away for fear of being hurt.

    I wish someone had said, “Listen to sweet honey in the rock” and soothe the shit out of yourself as long and as often and as much as you want.

    I am now that someone who is mother, child, daughter, lover and mid-life infant wide-eyed and open to discovering the world, holding my own hand and heart and stepping out in the rain and getting my skin wet in the ocean and saying to fear, “Hey, I know you and we travel in the same car sometimes, but I’m driving.”

      • Gayle says

        I agree with Laura, so many beautiful lines. I especially liked the way you stated ‘tears…are actually the water that is needed for the seeds in my soul desperately trying to take root’ and ‘we travel in the same car sometimes, but I’m driving.’

    • Ilana says

      Awesome piece! I loved the reference to the broken faucet. It totally made sense to me and gave me a new way of looking at my own pain. Then your last line, what you would say to fear, “Hey, I know you and we travel in the same car sometimes, but I’m driving.” So powerful. -Ilana

      • cissy says

        Thank you all for taking the time to comment. This was an empowering prompt to write to. I love reading all of these.

        • Sheila McGinley says

          Cissy, this was clear and strong and beautifully written. And I felt as if it was speaking to something deep in me also, and I was struck by it like a shock running through me. Thank you.

    • Lee Xanthippe says

      Yes! This was very beautiful and powerful. I enjoyed the using and turning over of the metaphors–the apple pie and the faucet that doesn’t give water, the giving everything away that is no bargain. I really enjoyed also the strong voice of someone defending themselves–or rather looking out for themselves, carving a new place in the here and now world–thank you!!

    • Judy says

      Cissy, love this piece. Especially the apple pie ‘slice.’ So clear, so direct, so powerful. Thank you for sharing.

    • Hazel says

      Thank you for: “I wish someone had said, “Listen to sweet honey in the rock” and soothe the shit out of yourself as long and as often and as much as you want.” Yes, I wish for that same thing.

      Your whole piece was so heartfelt, so purely true that it comes across as very real.

      Thank you for sharing.

    • MaryL says

      Cissy,
      I love sweethoneyontherock, so your reminder woke me up in this dreary afternoon: I wish someone had said, “Listen to sweet honey in the rock” and soothe the shit out of yourself as long and as often and as much as you want. YES!!! Love, MaryL

    • Polly says

      Cissy, I love this piece. It resonates on a rather deep level. I know what it is to wish your childhood were apple pie instead of trauma. That was so eloquently and sweetly stated. There was such raw pain and honesty and you communicated it so well. You finished it off on such an empowered note. Thank you.

  2. Karla says

    I wish someone had told me that you cannot break your child by making mistakes in parenting, and that acknowledging these mistakes to your child encourages his growth more than the things you did right.

    I wish someone had told me that the effort it consumes to protect yourself from perceived danger takes far more energy than making the choice to do things even if it scares you.

    I wish someone had told me that beating myself up for actual and perceived wrongs would do more damage than anything that someone else could do.

    I wish someone had told me that developing an ability to be mindful would rewire my easily-spooked neurology and bring me a sense of peace.

    I wish someone would have told me that working with people rather than for them or to them would matter more than the work itself.

    I wish someone would have told me that who I am in doing my work would matter more than what I thought, or accomplished, or said.

    I wish someone had told me that what other people say or do as they relate to me has little to do with me. It isn’t always about me.

    I wish someone had told me that learning to see my parents for who they are now, rather than filtered through the distorted lens of my childhood, would revolutionize my relationships with them, for the better.

    I wish someone had told me that learning to accept what others offered me would heal me.

    I wish someone had me that exercising compassion for others would be one path for finding it for myself.

    • cissy says

      I could read an entire book of I WISH SOMEONE HAD TOLD ME’s and I thank you for what you just told me Karla, because YOU DID TELL ME and I thank you. Beautiful and wise and helpful for me in thinking of how to work and live and parent and be a daughter in the world. Thank you.

    • Ilana says

      Karla- You pointed out a lot of things that I had never thought of but as I read them I thought “Well, yeah. That makes so much sense.” So glad you told me. Thank you. Ilana

    • Lee Xanthippe says

      Love the language–lines that stood out for me– “my easily spooked neurology”, the part about the lenses–childhood and now, and the realization “it isn’t always about me.” Thank you!!

    • Judy says

      Karla, Nodding my head with each line you so beautifully write in this lovely post. Especially the line….”that developing an ability to be mindful would rewire my easily-spooked neurology and bring me a sense of peace.” Thank you.

    • Hazel says

      Karla,

      Thank you for sharing. I can hear you reading this in your own voice now that we have shared reading out loud. Reading in that calm voice of yours with so much going on in what you have written.

      As I read this and listen to what you are saying I hear my own voice added and the voices of everyone here who reads it. Mmm. Yes.

  3. Barbara Keller says

    I wish someone had told me (before I needed an 18 font to read what I write) that I was fearfully and wonderfully made. That there is only one me and I was designed and created on purpose for a purpose. And that purpose is not to forever apologize for not being someone else, for not being more like someone else, for being here at all, for the food I eat and the clothes I wear, and the air I breath and the mistakes I make and the good I do along the way.

    My dad liked civil service type jobs for their security and lack of creativity. One year he was determined that I should be an air traffic controller. I was about 40. I said as gently as I could, “Dad, I don’t see how. I don’t see well, or hear well. My brain is slow and murky. I can’t sit still long because of pain in my hips. People would die right and left..” He said “Be different.”

    By that time, even I saw it was ludicrous. But I still didn’t get it. Being me is a gift. I have special skills, a few, that are helpful to others. And I have lots of flaws which are useful to people too. For one thing, I have compassion in those areas. I’m not likely to judge anyone for being slow, confused, socially awkward or sentimental. And when God blesses me anyway, in spite of all my short comings, and when I can hold up my head in spite of all the really awful things I’ve done, because I’m forgiven, then I’m a good example.

    So this Barbara who hated herself for so many years is here on purpose and loved by God, and in spite of all the hardships and real loneliness, it’s a good life this Barbara was given. I’m so glad to know.

    • says

      Loved this response, Barbara.

      Especially your opening:

      “I wish someone had told me that I was fearfully and wonderfully made. That there is only one me and I was designed and created on purpose for a purpose. And that purpose is not to forever apologize for not being someone else, for not being more like someone else, for being here at all, for the food I eat and the clothes I wear, and the air I breath and the mistakes I make and the good I do along the way.”

      And this: “Being me is a gift.” How many of us take decades to finally come to that conclusion!

    • Ilana says

      Barbara- The whole piece was well written but these two lines really spoke to me. “He said “Be different.”” and “So this Barbara who hated herself for so many years is here on purpose ” I have wanted so often to be different than what I am. The line just resonated with me. Then you followed it with being here on purpose. I want to be here on purpose too. Thank you for sharing! Ilana

      • cissy says

        This piece gives me a triumphant and hopeful feeling. Thank you for the reminders to honor who we are now as we are. I like the part where you say despite pain/loneliness it’s a good life.

      • Barbara Keller says

        The thing is, you are here on purpose. The only part missing is your internalizing of the fact. Thanks for your appreciate comment.

    • Lee Xanthippe says

      I really enjoyed where this piece went and the realizations in it! It was interesting the line that started, “I’m not likely to judge anyone for being…”
      Thank you!!

    • Judy says

      Barbara, so many great lines but this one might be a favorite, “Being me is a gift. I have special skills, a few, that are helpful to others. And I have lots of flaws which are useful to people too.” Thank you for this open and well crafted response.

      • Barbara Keller says

        I love writing for this group. I get such kind and supportive responses. Thank you all so much. I’m really sorry I don’t read everyone else’s and comment. I steal the moments it takes to write and then later to read responses, from my job – the newspaper which has grown from 8 to 12 pages and is almost too much for me. Thank you for doing more for me than I’m able to do for you.

    • Polly says

      Barbara, I’d like to just copy and paste everything Laura wrote in her comment to you, because my favourite passage was the same. The part about not apologizing for being you and for being here – that especially spoke to me. Thank you for sharing this with all of us. It’s a brave piece. I love that you came to the realization that you are a gift. Bravo.

  4. Virginia Fagan says

    I wish someone had told me how happy they were that I belonged to them. That I was special and deserved all things bright and beautiful just because.

    I wish that someone had told me that dangerous men are lurking even in my neighborhood and a curious 7 year old, should never go off or even talk to one no matter how much candy is jiggling in their pockets.

    And I wish they would have told me that I deserved to be hugged and kissed and cherished and then did it with loud kisses and never ending hugs.

    And I wish that someone had told me that I had a great appetite and offered seconds and smiles.

    and I wish someone had told me that they believed me that I hadn’t had sex even though the exam results indicated a broken hymen.

    And I wish someone had told me that I didn’t owe the psychologist sex for all his “care” and that he had been grooming me as a young teen.

    Years later, and somewhat wiser, on a chance encounter with Eva, a elderly Holocaust survivor, I felt her love as I believe it was a equal exchange of really being seen, as she tenderly held my face in her shaky hands and shared something I can’t remember, but I’ll never forget how she made me feel!

    • says

      Virginia, beautiful. Thanks for sharing your journey. I love how it was the woman who’d experienced the most pain–at the end–who truly touched you.

    • Ilana says

      Virginia- So artfully spoken. I love how you hint at everything, don’t give us all the details. Somehow that made it seem to whisper to me and made me listen more closely. Nice job. Ilana

    • Lee Xanthippe says

      Thank you for going to what felt like dangerous places to me, dangerous true-feeling places. And the details given–straight out were so powerful. I felt the end too–these two people face to face and us reading left to imagine what the meeting of two people who experienced too real things would be. Thank you for going there!!
      And trusting us with it…

    • Judy says

      Virginia, what a tenderly told piece with the lovely image of Eva holding your face. Tears came and then the smile for that image. Thank you.

    • Barbara Keller says

      The end made me cry. I love that you can’t remember what she said, only that she loved you, saw you and understood. Great courage to share such hard things. I read these posts and think again now many dreadful people there are out there hurting the innocent. Well written, inspiring, and comforting.

    • Polly says

      Virginia, this was chilling and powerful. I had this sense of increasing confidence as you grew to realize that you deserved better. Thanks for posting.

  5. Kate Samuels says

    I wish someone had told me that the decisions I made in my twenties would pave the platform for my mid thirties, the platform I’d sometimes like to jump right off of.

    I wish someone had told me that getting married at twenty three, beginning a family at twenty eight and standing in the shadows of my husband’s brilliance and impressive career would slowly chip away at my own self worth.

    I wish someone had told me to nourish and brazenly discover myself in my twenties, rather than hiding behind my fear of inadequacy and becoming his greatest advocate.

    I wish someone had told me to listen to that inner voice that briefly challenged the rigid family expectations silently passed down by generations of parents who marry young, grow large families and stay together no matter what.

    I wish someone had told me that I would wake up in my mid thirties with three beautiful children and a loyal husband and realize that I have both everything and nothing at once. I wish someone had told me that once you begin role playing it is nearly impossible and extremely unpopular to stop.

    I wish someone had told me that my husband would not love my authentic self, when I would be brave enough to live it.

    I wish someone had told me not to create relationships of loneliness that I will have to fight like hell to get out of.

    I wish someone had told me to listen to myself when I wanted to be an artist, and when I was satisfied with the idea of raising only one child and not three.

    I wish someone had told me to be a little selfish early on so that I wouldn’t appear such a bitch in my thirties for asking for a weekend off.

    I wish someone had told me, “you have a unique richness to you and you really are so talented and beautiful and bright… and this may make life challenging but so rewarding.” I wish someone had told me this outside of a therapist’s office and before my mental breakdown at thirty five. I wish that someone had been my husband.

    I wish someone could tell me know how to navigate moving forward. I wish someone could tell me this without quoting feel-good Facebook messages and cliches about living your best life.

    I wish someone could tell me how to navigate decisions in my thirties that will pave the platform for my forties, a platform on which I would like to stay for a while, comfortably seated and only remembering a time when I wanted to jump.

    • says

      Kate, Welcome to the Roadmap blog. I loved this first post of yours. There’s so much in here that spoke to me. I could quote back so much of what you wrote, but I particularly loved this line–so honest, so raw, so real: “I wish someone had told me that I would wake up in my mid thirties with three beautiful children and a loyal husband and realize that I have both everything and nothing at once. I wish someone had told me that once you begin role playing it is nearly impossible and extremely unpopular to stop.” So much in this piece was raw and real. Bravo.

      • cissy says

        Wow, this is so honest and clear. I love the way you invite us into the building realizations, the climax, leave us on the ledge at the beginning and the end but give us why in the middle. No facebook cliches here but I hope you keep sharing the writing.

      • Lee Xanthippe says

        Yes! Those lines and so many others really struck me. I felt like I was glimpsing into this world and the feelings in it and felt the pull both of being in a certain world and of trying to live one’s own life. So I guess I felt the pulls of the piece…and the end point of wanting to be looking back from a more comfortable place…I thank you for a brave piece!

    • Judy says

      Kate, welcome. And, I echo the comments of others. What a well crafted piece from start to finish. Great images and use of the word platform. And, back in the day we used to say, ‘bitch is beautiful.’ My daughter tells me the phrase never went out of style. :)

    • Ilana says

      Welcome to our community, Kate- This piece has a beautiful symmetry. I love how it ends with your first stanza repeating. You also make some good points. A lot of things that rang true for me as well. The line that hit me hardest was “I wish someone had told me to be a little selfish early on so that I wouldn’t appear such a bitch in my thirties for asking for a weekend off.” Nice job. Ilana

    • Barbara Keller says

      Lovely and so to the point. Beautifully put. While 30′s is definitely past 20′s, the movie isn’t over yet. From the vantage point of 70, you look real young. I could give you a million answers to what comes next, but as it’s your movie, and you’re the director as well as the star, (excuse the corny over use of the metaphor) you will figure it out or make it up as you go. I loved reading it, and thank you.

    • Polly says

      Kate, you richly described emotions and experiences that I think are almost universal. I can honestly say that I know what it’s like to wake up in your thirties disappointed in some big life choices of the past. You wrote about a very complex set of circumstances with concisely, and you made it so poignant. Thank you.

  6. Jeanne says

    Laura and Cissy:

    I am writing an email of thanksgving this morning. I am new to Laura’s community and have felt that I have found a home since discovering it by an absence of coincidence earlier this summer.

    Today marks the one year anniversary of my now 21 year old son’s brain surgery/craniotomy for the removal of a tumor that was large and difficult to resect. At this moment, he is healthy, working at a wonderful job in NYC and looking forward to spending his senior fall semester abroad on a solo adventure prior to graduation.

    I read the following lines from Cissy’s post and found them to be so deeply moving:

    “I wish someone had told me that it’s possible to get what you need from a different water faucet if the one in your home is broken and there’s no water coming from it.

    I wish someone had told me that my right to water wasn’t defined by the broken faucet in my life or self.”

    I could be still for what seems like an entire day just thinking about how this last line plays out in my life. It feels as if it were written for me. This is a small miracle of a message that reflects the reality of the “broken faucet” in my life over the last ten years as a wife and mother in a family afflicted by a series of often overwhelming life altering challenges. The water of joy was turned off in our faucet for so long that I had forgotten where to find it for myself or for our family.

    God has blessed me with a deep well of faith and strength and broad horizons, this I KNOW. My “right to water,” to drink fully of this life and to respond with beauty, generosity and creativity was something I never felt entitled to claim for myself while the faucet was broken. Your post reminded me to receive, own and steward the worthiness to drink water and even the space to float from time to time. In doing this, I am an instrument. Without it, I am nothing real, genuine or useful.

    Today, I celebrate the first drink of water in almost a decade with a toast to this community of friends and writers that I have yet to meet. We are kindred spirits. I look forward to learning more about the craft of writing and the outpouring of truth and emotion and courage through your continued submissions.

    Jeanne

    • cissy says

      Jeanne,
      I am so touched that my recent realization and writing has touched you. Now you have touched me. How amazing, huh!!!! I had not written here for a bit but the urgency in the learning when I got the prompt and in Laura’s piece made it rise up in me. I have never met you but I am THRILLED you are drinking joy. Cheers :)

    • Lee Xanthippe says

      I enjoyed that this piece was in conversation with another writing and the faucet line and found it’s way to it’s own connections…I was moved by the line about never feeling “entitled” to the flow from the faucet…Thank you and wecome!!

    • Judy says

      Jeanne, welcome. You write with such passion, conviction and joy. These lines especially touched me, ” Your post reminded me to receive, own and steward the worthiness to drink water and even the space to float from time to time. In doing this, I am an instrument. Without it, I am nothing real, genuine or useful.” Thank you and blessed be.

    • Barbara Keller says

      Wow, quite a wonderful piece of writing and sharing. It’s a hard life even with a well of faith. Thanks.

  7. Terilynn says

    I wish someone would have told me my father was a narcissist and that my mother volunteered as his advocate from the beginning. My father died shortly after my fifth birthday. Maybe I’m lucky I had one less narcissist in my life after that.

    I now realize I wasn’t conceived and born out of joy and the hope of a brighter tomorrow that I could achieve in my lifetime. I wasn’t born because I was wanted. Most my relatives were dismayed at my live birth, considering my father was undergoing radiation at the time of my conception. My relatives knew my father was trying to defy death, and my mother was in denial that her husband was, indeed, dying.

    I am normal, physically. The relatives on my father’s side shunned me. I grew up feeling worthless. My mother’s side has been more forgiving, although they were patronizing at times. I was just a girl. My mother talked me out of vet school. It was too much money to spend on a girl.

    I became a good vet tech. I should have been a vet, maybe. But without the struggle, I might not have appreciated the value of the lives that society has little regard for. With the aid of a narcissistic vet (of course), I hit my pinnacle.

    I now live with the remnants of my rescued, unadoptable animals.

    Now I write the stories behind the fifty urns of rescues, and am working on two collections of short stories. I became a writer, despite my mother’s need to edit my every childhood letter or essay. Mom now appreciates me and regrets denying me my life’s dream of being a doctor. She loves the stories I feel I can share with her.

    I can’t share everything. Long ago we agreed to disagree, as with my father. Nonetheless, since I am acclimated to medicalese and understand the aging process, I became my mother’s care manager. I have kept her alive longer than she should have been allowed. It’s ironic.

    Her death would free me, frankly. Yet I respect the Will to Live, and have supported this for twenty years now. In a way, my mom is just another critter struggling to stay alive. It’s what I do, and I do it well.

    I wish someone would have encouraged me to be all I had in me. Still, I am who I am because people were clueless fifty years ago. I am here because my egocentric parents wanted to keep their delusions alive.

    I’d have to say a couple hundred animals, at least, got to live their lives out in dignity due to my intervention. I don’t want to brag, but it’s probably closer to 500. I can’t save the world. I can only save one at a time. I have trouble reminding myself that I have to save myself first. This is now my biggest challenge.

    • Lee Xanthippe says

      Yes…this is a very compelling piece and enjoyed the twists and turns, the circumstances of conception and felt the pain of the relatives and the circumstances. A number of lines drew me in. “I am normal, physically” was one. I heard the complexity of the changing relationships…the mother growing older, the role of caregiver to family and animals as well. Thank you!!

      • Sheila McGinley says

        I too wish someone had told you that you brought with you into the world so many gifts. That you are a success for finding them when others refused to.

    • Judy says

      Terrilynn, welcome. What a powerful telling. Your writing is clear and forceful and the message of your unconditional care and love rings stronger with each paragraph. Thank you for sharing this piece. Your animals are indeed luck you entered their lives.

    • Hazel says

      Terilynn,
      Thank you for sharing this piece that led us through the years and transitions of your life. I particularly liked the line “I wish someone would have encouraged me to be all I had in me. Still, I am who I am because people were clueless fifty years ago.” I can really relate to it only I would have to change the time to seventy-five years ago.” Well written.

      Again, thank you.

  8. Ilana says

    I wish someone had told me that it wasn’t my fault that my brother hurt me.
    Instead they asked me what I had done to make him angry. (So I learned that it was my fault.)

    I wish someone had told me that I didn’t deserve it.
    Instead they refused to believe me, explained to me why it wasn’t so bad. (So I learned that I did deserve it.)

    I wish someone had told me that my body belonged to me and no one, NO ONE, should be hurting it or touching it without my permission.
    Instead they told me not to complain, not to “make waves”, to “step around” around accommodate. (So I learned I had no right to protect my body.)

    I wish someone had told me that my personhood belonged to me and that no one had the right to judge, control, belittle or humiliate me.
    Instead they judged, belittled, controlled and humiliated me. (So I learned that I didn’t belong to me.)

    I wish someone had told me that I was worthy; of love, of protection, of appreciation of friendship.
    Instead they didn’t protect me, they didn’t appreciate me. (So I learned that any love I got was given out of pity and they could take it away at any time.)

    I wish someone had told me that I was a valuable person, a gift to this world and not only did I have the right to exist but that I was destined to give back more than I would ever be able to take.
    Instead they showed me that I was at the bottom of the list and I would be taken care of only if there was time and energy to spare once everyone else was satisfied. (So I learned I was valueless and the world only let me be here because I hadn’t yet asked for too much.)

    I wish someone had told me that I did the right thing, just by being me.
    Instead they questioned me, ridiculed me and pointed out all my flaws. (So I learned that I was wrong.)

    I wish someone had told me that I wasn’t stupid, ugly or shameful.
    Instead they shamed me. (So I learned that by definition I was stupid, ugly and shameful.)

    I wish someone had told me that my value as a person wasn’t something I had to constantly prove. That it would be okay to relax and stop counting up all the mistakes, wondering which one would be the last straw.
    Instead they pointed out my mistakes and held me accountable for each one as if it were a crime. (So I learned that mistakes made me a bad person.)

    But what I wish most is that someone had told me I could do anything. That I was strong and smart and brave and if I wanted anything badly enough I could do it. That I already had everything I needed and all I had to do was put in the work. I wish someone had told me that anything is possible. That fears are meant to be crushed and I don’t have to do it alone. Limitations are meant to be defied and that I had what it took to defy them.
    Instead they told me that I was a slow learner. That I had a hard time with this and I wasn’t good at that.
    (So I learned that I was small, powerless and incapable of doing anything unless someone else took me by the hand and showed me how.)

    But if they had. Oh, if they had told me all those wonderful things, what I would have done! I would have soared to the stars, knowing that the whole world was mine for the taking. Knowing that I could create beautiful things, that I could give so much to this world. I wouldn’t have been afraid to try. I wouldn’t have been afraid to fail. If someone had told me that I was smart enough and strong enough to accomplish anything I set my mind to I would have tried it and I would have accomplished it.

    I wish I could say that all of that is true and now I’m telling myself. But it doesn’t work that way. It’s so hard to believe all the wonderful truths that I have learned over the past two years in the face of the ugly lies I’ve believed my entire life.

    I won’t give up though. I won’t! Bit by bit I’ll chip away at what I have learned and replace it with what I am learning now. I will take a deep breath and jump; pushing my limits, facing my fears and trying even though I can’t imagine succeeding. And someday, someday, with all those shocking successes I’ll believe it. I’ll believe that I have the strength, the power and the courage to do anything I want to. And then… I WILL.

    • cissy says

      Ilana,
      The pain of the messages comes through and how and what wasn’t said and what was implied and the impact. I could feel the pain and also the flickering of new insights and hope and possibilities.

    • Lee Xanthippe says

      I feel like you just did it!
      This is a beautiful powerful piece that exposes the a whole situation…it seems personal and also universal (or perhaps universal for people who have had very similar experiences). This piece really exposes such harm people do…and opens it up for all to see and even more–there is this strong voice speaking back to each point. A strong voice and a voice learning to be strong…
      I love the repetition in the format of this piece–speaking to each point…”so I learned…” Thank you for this piece!! Woo!

    • says

      You are a fierce warrior. That’s all there is too, it. And the sooner you accept that about yourself, the better. You ARE going to win. You know the saying, “The best revenge is living well.”

    • Karla says

      Hi Ilana,

      Thank you for what you wrote. I love the writing for its elegant simplicity, backed by solid truth:

      “I wish someone had told me that my value as a person wasn’t something I had to constantly prove.”

      I was at Commonweal this year for the second time, and there were several activities that focused on things we wanted to give up. This one I’m putting at the top of my list, I give up thinking there is something I have to prove.

    • Judy says

      Ilana, You truly are a warrior, a hero and a role model. This telling shows your grace under extreme circumstances and I hear the determination of the warrior’s mission. Be very kind and gentle to yourself. And, recall who said, ‘you can eat an elephant–just one bite at a time.’ Hugs as always, J

    • Hazel says

      Ilana,
      Thank you for sharing.
      I am glad that you ended this piece with ” I’ll believe that I have the strength, the power and the courage to do anything I want to. And then… I WILL.” You made me believe that you WILL SUCCEED, so that power is in you.

    • Ilana says

      Thank you all for your responses. They really made me think and feel empowered. I will be rereading them often. Ilana

    • Barbara Keller says

      I was struck by the clarity of your logic and presentation. You moved through the topic, and I appreciated that you included not only the devastating lack of kindness and support that came your way, but also a succinct and dramatic statement of the results, that grew like a concerto to a climax. Nicely done. As you say it’s not as easy to undo the effects as to list them. But it’s a really good start, I always found. Once you can see it and say it, you’re on the road to solution.

    • Polly says

      Ilana, this took my breath away. I love how inspiring your pieces are; and at the same time so familiar to me in a strange way in that they resonate so well with my worldview, experiences, and thoughts. I’m looking forward to the day when you truly believe all of the wonderful (and true!) things about yourself that you stated at the end of this piece. You are brave, and you will be unstoppable.

    • Diana says

      Ilana, as always you go straight to the core. Never stop believing in yourself. I believe in you. You can do what you set your heart to do. The past are the lies, just lies.

    • Terry Gibson says

      Ilana, I know you don’t feel like a rock but please let me tell you, you are! I learned so much from the methodical way you wrote this piece and relate to so much of it. “I wish someone had told me that my value as a person wasn’t something I had to constantly prove. That it would be okay to relax and stop counting up all the mistakes, wondering which one would be the last straw.” This quote jumped at me; I live this way a lot. Also, it seems to me that from beginning to end, you process everything and, in effect, almost achieve the very things you ache for. Good job.

  9. Jess says

    I wish that someone had told me that I was allowed to let go. That it was okay to let go.

    I wish someone had told me that he was going to break my heart. If only someone had told me that before I had begun to love him so deeply.

    I wish HE had told me that I shouldn’t continue to hope, when he was so clearly gone.

    I wish that someone had told me that I was in love with yesterday, and that yesterday was over. That living in the shadow of what used to be, wasn’t really living.

    I wish that someone had told me that I could let go at any time I wanted. That I didn’t have to suffer endlessly over someone who didn’t love me, and didn’t care.

    I wish that someone had told me, when I first began to love him, to remember every moment, every word, every laugh, smile, and breath we took. For every moment is but a memory now.

    I wish that someone had told me that despite my truest love and best intentions, that it would never last.

    I wish that someone had told me that it wasn’t him keeping me hostege to my broken heart, it was me all along.

    I wish someone had told me all of this before I ever had a chance to fall. But they didn’t. And its probably better that way, because I probably wouldn’t have listened even if they did.

    • cissy says

      Jess,
      This made me smile and cry. Both. Thank you. The smile was at the end when you probably wouldn’t have listened any way. And I love the line about you keeping yourself hostage. Wow.

      • Lee Xanthippe says

        I was moved too by the hostage line…I thought this piece built gently giving us more information about the relationship and allowing us as readers to feel the pain and the process in this piece. I also liked the line that started, ” I wish HE had told me…”
        Thank you!!

    • Ilana says

      Jess- I love the flow of this piece. It has a beautiful cadence. It also brought me back to the first time I had my heart broken. You hit on so much of what I experienced. Thank you for posting this. Ilana

    • Polly says

      Jess, you finished this piece off with what I was thinking as I read it. Simply going from my own experience, I never did heed others’ warnings when it came to relationships I dove head first into, every time. The whole piece rang true though – that feeling of loss and heartache. Chin up. Someone amazing will love you someday. The most important thing is for you to love yourself.

  10. Lee Xanthippe says

    7.30.13 Tuesday 6:15 pm

    “I wish someone had told me…”
    that’s the prompt and hot damn if other things aren’t sticking in my brain right now like the word
    lubrication
    and why can’t I remember the name of the lubrication that is preferable,
    but I can only remember the name KY jelly.

    I am a little kid, reading all the thoughts laid on and I’m moved only by the word
    lubrication
    which just jumps out.
    I imagine the words “I’m sorry” as lubrication but somehow those words while so helpful at times, leave me
    dry.

    “I’m sorry” is so important, especially when felt and done right but for me
    “I’m sorry” is not sexy.
    Lubrication
    is sexy and funny and makes your car run right and your
    can opener.

    I am not sure what I wish someone had told me.
    I am not sure I would have listened.

    I wish someone had known how great I was all along and told me and told me
    and I wish I believed them and believed them
    way before now.

    I wish someone had told me that my dumb one-time Kaiser therapist who said,
    “Read this book, you’re fine, now let me see people with real problems!” was full of shit.

    I wish I had sought good therapy for anxiety earlier and I wish I had gotten it. But better late than never, right?

    I heard that Kaiser recently got sued for not providing mental health services to people and putting them off, discouraging them, me? from getting help. I thought it was just me. Turns out it was lots and lots of people—many, likely with much more serious problems. My heart hurts for them. (Kaiser therapy for anxiety is better now, at least where I live). But still. I wish.

    I wish someone had told me how to have fun writing way earlier.
    I wish someone had shown me that writing can be a delicious serious fun game.

    I wish someone had told me
    to listen to myself, to trust myself.
    I tell myself to listen to myself, to trust myself.

    I am glad someone told me
    that sometimes maybe I should not listen to myself.
    That was Sharon who thought that and she was right
    and I knew she was right because she made me laugh.
    Sometimes when my mind skips off to hell, it tells me lies to torture me,
    to make things worse,
    really I am just on sensory overload and if I know that sometimes
    my mind lies to me or rather exagerrates, tries to freak me out,
    then I can choose to be good to myself,
    calm myself, do what I need
    to take the pressure off, and then I will soon
    be myself again, open up more,
    be free, breathe, and soon be receptive again.

    I think I am doing a lot of listening
    (for all my talking)
    and maybe there is not much I wish someone had told me.
    I am finding out now.

    I think for everything people tell me,
    I usually have to figure out for myself what’s what.

    Maybe it is more experiences I wish for.
    I wish I had discovered my writing voice earlier…
    but really, do I? Or was I discovering other voices…
    my dancing voice? my political voice?
    my student voice and teacher’s voice?
    the voices and “voices” of people in the disability community—
    people with speech differences who communicate in different ways
    and stretch me to hear in different ways.

    I just a few months back read a great poetry book
    called “Suddenly Slow” by John Lee Clark,
    a DeafBlind poet. Clark’s poems have made me consider
    in a whole new way, the richness of different ways of being,
    and the ways they are similar or different than my own.

    He has a short poem called “Braille” where he uses
    a metaphor of fields
    popping up under his fingertips as he reads (in braille)
    and I imagine for the first time how reading with fingers
    can be like touching amazing things, thoughts, ideas, life, bloom
    there and there and here and here and hear
    fingers like mine transmitting heart, thoughts
    fingers like and unlike mine receiving heart, thoughts,
    feeling.

    • Ilana says

      Nice job, Lee. I like the way you took your time and came to the prompt when you were ready to. This piece has a gentle, relaxed feel to it. You were going to say what you wanted when you wanted. It made me feel free as a reader. Thank you for posting it. Ilana

      • Lee Xanthippe says

        Thank you, Ilana…you gave me a new perspective. I like the thought that I came around to the prompt when I wanted to, rather than the feeling that I was doing it wrong : ) and aiming at the prompt yet feeling compelled to respond how I did…well, they are similar but the way you put it sounds more like a choice : )

        I do try to be in the moments in prompts or open to what is happening outside and within me and in conversation with any number of things. I love (in a way) to not know…in order to find out what I really do know…or feel compelled to express…

      • Lee Xanthippe says

        Thanks…and I felt like I had to step out of my comfort zone a little to post that for some reason. Not wanting to offend in any way. Also, I felt a little caution around engaging the quote in the prompt, because it was a prompt yes, but also a piece of writing that I didn’t want to make fun or light of.

        Funny, the two types of daring..
        1) To write it for yourself.
        2) To put it out there for other people to read.

        • Dianne Brown says

          Lee, I love your 2 types of daring . . . to write it for yourself and to put it out there for other people to read. I say “a heart with no footprints on it is a rabbit in a cage.” Yes, for me it has to be heard in my writing or my words, particularly my verbs.

          • Lee Xanthippe says

            Ouch, ouch–footprints on my heart–ouch! (My mind is much too literal for my own good)
            (Well, call me a rabbit in a cage : )

            Thank you much for your feedback …oh, yes and for verbs–I keep forgetting about those but love how others use them!

    • Sheila McGinley says

      Well, I tried to comment but it is not there now, so I will try again. I liked the freshness and honest and presence in this! It made me think of the world differently. Thank you!

      • cissy says

        Lee,
        I feel the wisdom, the playfulness, the easing into the piece and the easing into your self. It felt like the softness and playfulness with the prompt was all over the writing and showing and telling in a way of being. I loved your line about the other voices as well you were learning and using.

    • Polly says

      Lee, you write from such an incredible stream- of-consciousness voice, and you have such a unique and rich, full perspective. I really enjoyed reading this. Please keep telling us the things you figure out for yourself.

  11. says

    I wish someone had told me that when people die, the people you really love, that you miss them more as time goes on, not less.

    I wish someone had told me that having children is “like making a decision to have your heart walking around outside your body.”

    I wish someone had told me how my heart would break when my children left home and became well-adjusted, basically happy young adults.

    I wish someone had told me that you can deeply hate and love the same person in one lifetime, more than once.

    I wish someone had told me not to waste my youth being unhappy and never carefree.

    I wish someone had told me how hard and complex a marriage is.

    I wish someone had told me that the bad things, the very worst things that ever happened to me were something those most critical to my growth and evolution as a human being.

    I wish someone had taught me how to be.

    • Lee Xanthippe says

      Love all the contrasts in some of the lines–the heart breaking at kids becoming well-adjusted and leaving…the hardest/worst things also being the things critical to one’s growth…

      I felt an embracing of the difficult in these lines and was also caught by the first line–the missing getting stronger after one is gone…

      Much said in a few sentences!!

    • Karla says

      This one, I adore the juxtaposition of hard and complex:

      “I wish someone had told me how hard and complex a marriage is.”

      It says so much with so few words. It speaks to the difficulty of navigating through the changes in our partners and how we relate to them in a long term marriage. It says exactly how it feels to me to try to love someone without controlling them, how I sometimes wish for something different, and how hopeless I can sometimes feel with the hypocrisy of trying to do both.

      If I were in charge of Webster’s, the definition of “marriage” would be “hard and complex.” That’s really all that needs to be said.

      Except for one more thing ;). Way back when my husband and I first met but were not interested in dating, we were “adopted” for the Jewish holidays by an elderly couple that had been married for a long time. There was a lot of love between them, you could see it in the way they sat together, in silence or telling stories. He was pure sweetness, and she had an edge to her. He was now the caretaker, as her body curled in on itself, brittle from rheumatoid arthritis. She was very pushy about telling us that we should date, and she’d often punctuate her encouragement with a line like this:

      “Fifty-five years of marriage!” I remember that she pumped her fist in the air, probably more from involuntary reflex than for emotional emphasis. “You cannot believe the hate!”

    • Judy says

      Laura, Can you see my head nodding yes as I read each line. These especially, “…..I wish someone had told me that having children is like making a decision to have your heart walking around outside your body.” followed by “I wish someone had told me that you can deeply hate and love the same person in one lifetime, more than once.” Oops, there is one more “I wish someone had told me how hard and complex a marriage is.” Such is life. Such is life. As I turn to read a note to myself, “love is patient and love is kind.” Well, most of the time!

      • cissy says

        Wow, how you can love and hate the same person in one lifetime. WOW. And the missing of a true loved one being more, not less, over time. Thank you.

    • Ilana says

      Wow. There’s a lot of wisdom here. Then it all ends on that pure and simple line. “I wish someone had taught me how to be.” Thanks for sharing it with us. Ilana

    • Barbara Keller says

      Laura, that’s great. My heart got tweaked a few times and that means your words captured my experience better than I could. Thanks, good job.

    • Sheila McGinley says

      Well, this list certainly was like a megaphone into my life too! I loved how, short and sweet, you just knocked it out of the ballpark. There are so many lines to which I want to say “Yah!”. But as to wishing that someone had told you that when people die, you miss them more as time goes on: I wish that too. After my mom died, so many people came up to me and told me that their moms had died (a year, 5 years, 20 years) ago and that sometimes they were still knocked over by the grief, but it comes and goes, and to call them if I needed to. And I pictured a whole world of people in quiet grief, looking the same on the outside but inside the grief and none of us realizing that we all feel that way, and it is because we all had been so loved by someone. The longer time goes, the more grief I feel, but also the more that I feel that I carry my mom around in me, she spurts out of my mouth at the most amazing moments!

    • Polly says

      Laura, I love it when you decide to share your own writing on here (and that the prompt was one of your pieces this time). Everything of yours that I’ve read is so powerful, and I love that I get to sit here and read it. This piece resonates. I felt quite a bit while reading it. Thanks for posting.

    • Diana says

      Laura,
      I loved where you said you “miss the people you love more not less as time goes on” resonated in my soul. As the years pass and the personal losses mount my acute grief wanes but I miss those I love even more. I think of them more often not less.

  12. Sheila McGinley says

    I wish someone had told me it is OK for life to be quiet sometimes, OK to just stop and be and breathe and be and not have to prove my goodness by trying so hard, by thinking you have to prove you are worth it to be alive.

    I wish someone had told me that I didn’t have to find love by sitting very still, holding my breath and hoping that someone would see me as beautiful. I wish I had been told that I could go out and grab love like my daughter does, and claim love for myself, and that I could go out and find people to love and not be afraid. Or that I might be afraid but that I could still be loved if I could just learn to recognize it.

    I wish someone had told me why I dreamt so many nights of not having enough, of someone taking from me the very food that I needed to live. And I wish that they had told me that I did not have to be alone with that shame when I had to grab and to hold everything that nurtured me so close to me that I almost smothered it.

    I wish someone had told me that having someone love you is such a precious gift that you would only have it a few times in your life, and that I needed to honor it even when I could not love back.

    I wish someone had told me that once my mother was gone I would sometimes feel that my very heart was gone, that every moment that I spent caring for her would seem like some miracle, that every moment that I was restless from the weight of it, the thought would pierce me with regret, even though she told me to regret nothing. And that my impatience with her dementia at the end was really just the sorrow of watching her go from us.

    I wish someone had told me, when I got to that old woman’s age at which no one seemed to look at me or respect my existence or my mind anymore, that I wouldn’t care hardly at all because I would begin to love myself! Begin to love the life I have led as if it is a fountain of endless nurturance to me, at least sometimes. And that sometimes I would feel so strong, so joyous inside because I have lived, and when I couldn’t live at least I learned how to survive.

    I wish someone had told me that no trip anywhere, no award won, no fame received would ever be as wonderful as watching the kelp dance close to shore at low tide, like little Russian ballerinas, or as wonderful as seeing a mother raccoon herd her babies into the storm drains at night as I leave the office, or as wonderful as surprising myself with the intense love that I felt for a snail crawling up my tomato plant, after 9/11 brought such death with it that life seemed precious and ready to disappear.

    And I wish someone had told me that the complicated love I have for my child would strike so deeply into my being that I could not even remember who I used to be.

    I wish, when I was tired and complaining about my daughter’s self-absorbed messiness and resistance to helping out, someone had told me that it would go so fast, that when she started to leave me to go out into life, the clothes in the bathroom or dishes in the sink would be something that would bring me to such tears, that finding her messy little traces around the so-quiet house would strike me deeply just as I was so struck when I buried my face in my father’s favorite shirt after he died. so surprised that the smell remained alive even though he was gone, his voice was gone, his arms around me gone, his laugh gone.

    I wish someone had told me that the nightmares I had, the fears, the dreams of concentration camps I tried to get out of, the wish to punish myself and sometimes to punish others, were not because I was an evil person. I wish someone had told me that I could be helped, that if I could tell my story, start to finish. I could learn from the telling how to see my own life, and to find little buds and blossoms growing straight up from my heart.

    I wish that someone had told me that my body’s scars and infirmities would not make everyone wretch (just some), would not make me unlovable, but might make some people turn from me. And I wish that someone had told me what to do when those people made me feel ugly and shamed.

    I wish someone had warned me that another person’s desire of me might feel like an addiction to heroin, and each time I tried to drink that desire in I would need it more desperately still in order to feel full. Then they could have told me how to help myself through it, how to quiet my shame that I forgot that this all was real, that I was using up someone who desired me to feed my own emptiness.

    I wish someone had told me that it was OK to take joy in my writing, that my way of seeing the world was as real as those words I so loved to read in books, told me that I deserved to write.

    I wish, when I woke at night in fear of nuclear bombs, or being lost in a disaster, no family nearby, or dying without someone who knew me nearby, I wish that someone had told me that I had already survived those things in my life and that until life is gone from me it is the alleluia of each breath that will help me to see life in front of me instead of its ending.

    I wish someone had told me that no one else had the answers either.

    But, then again, I was told so many wonderful things, too, over the years, things that built a strong and protected garden with roots and branches around my broken heart, so that before I began this list of wishes, those words I was told ran like screen credits across my mind. And I knew that for all of the grief and wishes for more, I have been lucky. I have survived, and at times I have truly lived.

    • Laura Davis says

      Loved this, Sheila, especially, “I wish someone had told me that once my mother was gone I would sometimes feel that my very heart was gone, that every moment that I spent caring for her would seem like some miracle, that every moment that I was restless from the weight of it, the thought would pierce me with regret, even though she told me to regret nothing. And that my impatience with her dementia at the end was really just the sorrow of watching her go from us.” Powerful and so apt in my life right now.

    • Karla says

      Sheila, thank you for what you wrote. This line brought tears burrowing behind my eyeballs:

      “I wish someone had told me, when I got to that old woman’s age at which no one seemed to look at me or respect my existence or my mind anymore, that I wouldn’t care hardly at all because I would begin to love myself!”

      My version of this is:

      I wish someone had told me that the less I sought love, the more often I would find it. I’m not entirely sure that the love I experience from others is actually outside myself. I have wondered if love is like the moon in the water, and the pristine beauty of the illusion is that it doesn’t matter.

    • Hazel says

      Sheila,
      Thank you for sharing. Wow! What to choose? It is all so good.

      I especially related to your statement: “I wish someone had told me that I didn’t have to find love by sitting very still, holding my breath and hoping that someone would see me as beautiful. I wish I had been told that I could go out and grab love like my daughter does, and claim love for myself, and that I could go out and find people to love and not be afraid. Or that I might be afraid but that I could still be loved if I could just learn to recognize it.” However, the whole piece was filled with goodies like, ” I wish someone had told me that it was OK to take joy in my writing, that my way of seeing the world was as real as those words I so loved to read in books, told me that I deserved to write.” I could just cut and paste them all. Thanks again.

      • Sheila McGinley says

        Oh, thank you Helen! I needed that! This was an interesting prompt and I just tried to let it all out of me.

        • cissy says

          Sheila,
          How generous. The writing, the wisdom, the lessons. I loved it all. It is soul touching writing. I didn’t want it to end. My daughter is ten and the lessons. And with your mother.

          And “I wish someone had told me that having someone love you is such a precious gift that you would only have it a few times in your life, and that I needed to honor it even when I could not love back.

          And “watching the kelp dance close to the shore.” Oh!!! Wonderful!

          • Sheila McGinley says

            Thanks, cissy!! I was up late last night writing, and I woke up wondering if it was “any good”. Your post reminded me that that is not a question worth asking when I am just trying to get down the truth of me. I am glad, so glad, that we connected on these words. I felt the same about your writing this week.

    • Barbara Keller says

      Thanks for that rich, deep insight. I had dreams of food, and escape too, and that rang so true for me. Also you wrote beautifully and poignantly about your daughter leaving. It was like that for me too. It was good to see it in someone else’s handwriting so to speak.

    • Polly says

      Sheila, you never cease to amaze and completely inspire me with your words. My favourite part was this: “I wish that someone had told me that I had already survived those things in my life and that until life is gone from me it is the alleluia of each breath that will help me to see life in front of me instead of its ending.” Thank you for leaving me in awe once again.

    • Diana says

      Hi Shelia, You had me from the first line with “it’s ok to be quiet sometimes and it’s ok to stop and be and breath” That reaches to my core lately as I seem to be relentlssly hurtling through space with barely time to think or breath.

  13. Fran Stekoll says

    I wish someone had told me to take better care of my body. The pleasures I got from a glass of wine, a sweet snack, over indulging on fabulous foods have now taught me a lesson.

    Last Friday I was told I have breast cancer.

    What a wake up call. It’s early stages and I must decide how to handle this so I can complete all I’ve started before this life is done.

    I have had many challenges with my body, most of which have taken their toll in the last 20 years. I’m learning to maintain.

    I just read something that spoke to me. “Resolve to be tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, Sympathetic with the striving and tolerant with the weak and wrong. Sometime in life you will have all of these.

    My first reaction was to curl up, give up, realize that maybe this is it.

    I began reflecting on how I’d abused my body, blamed myself for this diagnosis; but then I went to my lymphatic water class and saw a person who was totally paralyzed being lifted into the water and realized I’m not so bad after all.

    I am now ready to fight for more life. I will eat the right foods, exercise more, continue to think positive and with prayer I know I can conquer this.

    • says

      Fran, sorry to hear your news and glad you feel comfortable sharing it here. The word “CANCER” is such a shock to the system. But as dealing with it, in whatever way you chose, becomes part of your daily life, it will be just one more thing that is true right. Good luck on your journey.

    • Karla says

      Fran, thank you for wrote you wrote. I work with someone who decided to intentionally live with her cancer “out loud and proud.” When I was diagnosed almost a year ago, I found that telling people about it was a good antidote to what you wrote about in terms of the blame you feel for getting cancer in the first place. I do wish that someone had told me that some people would blame me for getting cancer, and that I would blame myself. I think I was pretty surprised by both of these.
      Maybe part of it is that people, including us, feel safer if we believe that it’s our fault, because that means we can somehow control our cancer in the future. I like your resolve to be healthier in the future and I believe those things make a difference. I don’t think this requires believing that we caused it in the first place. I wish you peace and comfort as you heal.

    • Hazel says

      Fran,
      The important statement here is that you ” realized I’m not so bad after all” and “I will eat the right foods, exercise more, continue to think positive and with prayer I know I can conquer this.. ”

      Remember, all warrior women have scars, some on the inside and some are on the outside but what is important that we fight with all our might in whatever battles we choose or whatever battles are thrust upon us. You are woman; roar.

    • Barbara Keller says

      Fran, I’m real sorry. Thanks for presenting it sensibly. There’s no telling what will come of it, but to determine to fight and care for yourself do seem the next and best steps to take. I said a prayer for you, and encourage you not to be overwhelmed or too discouraged. It’s another difficulty on the road which seems full of them far as I can see.

    • Judy says

      Dear Fran, so clearly written. I love this line “Resolve to be tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, Sympathetic with the striving and tolerant with the weak and wrong. Sometime in life you will have all of these.” Know that you are in my heart and sending loving healing energy. J

    • Polly says

      Fran, I am so sorry. Thank you for having the strength and the bravery to share this with us. I want to emphasize strength because I sense so much of it in the words you chose. The good news from my perspective is that you were told it’s in the early stages, and that tells me that (if you so choose) there has to be a lot that can be done. So many medical advancements have been made over the years. My favourite line is “I am now ready to fight for more life.” I’m so glad. Take care of you.

      P.

    • Terry Gibson says

      Fran, this is my first time to read your post. I am sorry you were given this diagnosis and imagine the conflicting emotions whirling around within you. That is, as best I can with my own limited experience of malignant cancer and having friends fight it every breath they take. Please nurture and be gentle to yourself. I have always valued what you share here and love that you are a vital part of this community. I hope you treat yourself with patience, understanding and unconditional love. Take care.

  14. Hazel says

    I wish someone had told me to get a shingles shot! I wish they had said you will be completely debilitated with the pain and you will have to withdraw from all outside the home activities for more than 4 years if you don’t.

    I wish someone had told me that it was not important to get married right out of high school; that I could have taken time to find out who I was first before taking on responsibility of a child.

    I wish someone had told me that it is okay to be me; that I didn’t have to become a cookie cutter stamp out of my mother and I didn’t have to fight for that right. I knew I could never be her but still I tried until I couldn’t anymore, then what happened between us was a sad silence.

    I wish someone had told me I was truly loveable; that all the mistakes I made were just mistakes and didn’t matter. That I need not blame myself and punish myself with endless nattering about them; that I could just pick myself up and go on.

    I wish someone had told me I was pretty and meant it, because I look at old photos and can see that I really was, it’s still hard to believe.

    I wish someone had told me to take better care of my body when I was young because I was going to need it later.

    I wish someone had told me to be more saving with my money when I was younger because I was going to really need it now in my old age.

    I wish someone had told me how great it is when you find someone who loves you as much as you love them. (For 36 years we have had a wonderful relationship.)

    I wish someone had told me how great it is to just be.

    • Kate Samuels says

      Hazel, I just loved this, especially:
      “I wish someone had told me that it is okay to be me; that I didn’t have to become a cookie cutter stamp out of my mother and I didn’t have to fight for that right. I knew I could never be her but still I tried until I couldn’t anymore.” I think this is such a ubiquitous struggle young women have, especially those who marry young! I love that you used “cookie cutter stamp out” because to me I imagine you emulating her but also it conjured images of the “perfect” mother making cookies and images of domestic life.

    • says

      Hazel, after sitting with you for a week at Commonweal, it is just lovely to read your post today, because I can imagine you and feel your presence so strongly. So glad to have you voice back on the blog–such a poignant, powerful post–and a good beacon for those of us younger.

    • Judy says

      Hazel, vivid images, clear writing and wonderful wisdom expressed in this post. Thank you, as always. Glad you’ve home safely and writing here again. Nice work, Lady. :)

    • Hazel says

      Thank all of you for your comments.

      It is good to be back on the blog. I love it. And I love that I took the time to go to Commonweal to spend time in the presence of other writers with such competent leaders. During that week I had an epiphany as to how to connect the separate parts of my current book. This probably would never have happened on my own. I am so thankful for that experience.

      • MaryL says

        Hazel, I love your statement: “I wish someone had told me I was truly loveable; that all the mistakes I made were just mistakes and didn’t matter. That I need not blame myself and punish myself with endless nattering about them; that I could just pick myself up and go on.”
        No regrets. Yesterday is over. Today is here. Tomorrow will come as a fresh pink dawn! Love, Mary L

        • Hazel says

          And, now I look forward to everyone of those fresh pink dawns because all of them are dead and only I am here to judge me, but I don’t; I love me for just what I am, a woman who loves to write and has enough experiences to draw on to make it interesting.

    • Ilana says

      Hazel- Nice job. I love the flow of this piece. You point out a lot of things that really make sense but the line that resonated most with me was this. “I wish someone had told me that it was okay to be me.” I know the feeling. Thank you for sharing this piece. Ilana

    • Diana says

      Hazel this piece was full of honesty and wisdom. The kind of wisdom gained only from truly living. I loved the practical wish in the opening line about getting the shingles shot. Your reached my heart with “fighting for the right” not to be your mother and the “sad silence” that follow. That line was oozing with a deeper story.

    • Polly says

      Hazel, I was able to relate to so much of this. You sucked me in right off the bat and I essentially just sat here, nodding. As someone who hasn’t taken the best care of my body so far, has rushed into some things (and put off other priorities that really held more urgency), who’s still trying to be as much like my mom as possible and might never meet that standard … I felt this. Thank you.

  15. Judy says

    I wish someone had told me:

    That it’s okay to be ambitious.

    That it’s okay not to have all the answers.

    That following your gut is both healthy and wise.

    That woman can be a minister instead of a minister’s wife.

    That it’s okay and healthy to start a sentence with, “I need…..”

    That it’s just as easy to fall in love with a rich man as a poor man.

    I wish I’d listened when someone told me, “watch out for that cliff.”

    • says

      Dear Judy,

      This line made me laugh, “That woman can be a minister instead of a minister’s wife.”

      This one could be moe: “That it’s okay and healthy to start a sentence with, “I need…..”

      My mother told me this all the time, and believe me it didn’t make a shred of difference! “That it’s just as easy to fall in love with a rich man as a poor man.”

      Do you really think you would have listened?
      I wish I’d listened when someone told me, “watch out for that cliff.”

      • Judy says

        Laura, Thank you for your fun response. True all of it! And, nope probably wouldn’t have made a difference listening to the words of my mom about the cliff. Years later I put this sign on my fridge, “Make sure you give your kids the same opportunities to voeozivup their lives up as you had.” With teens of their own, they’ve both asked where they can get the sign!

    • Hazel says

      Judy,
      The form you used is quite effective: as you lead up one by one to the most important statement the lines get longer and longer. Very well done.

      I loved your statement: “following your gut is both healthy and wise.” I have done that most of the time in my life and when I didn’t is when I got into the most trouble. Good advice.

    • MaryL says

      Judy, I agree … to be a minister instead of a minister’s wife! Then to connect with other women who take the steep road, who need affirmation and support dealing with the inevitable sprinkling of difficult people in every group. Love! Mary L

    • Ilana says

      Judy- The first thing that struck me about your piece was the visual, the shape of the sentences as they hit the page, or screen, to be more accurate. It seems to grow. I also loved the humor interspersed with the wisdom. Nice job. Ilana

    • Polly says

      Judy, this all rings true. My favourite line is “That following your gut is both healthy and wise.” That is a lesson I’m learning now, and it would have come in handy for approximately the last 30 years. Better late than never? Thanks for sharing this with us.

  16. Lee Xanthippe says

    I wish someone had told me
    that I wouldn’t really know what I wish someone had told me
    until I heard everyone else say what they wish someone had told them
    (everyone has so much better ideas!)
    and then got to pick from amongst the great well-thought thoughts
    what I wish someone had actually told me.

    (And now my brain is thinking of a follow-up prompt…and if someone had told you these things, what would be different now? Who would you be? What would you be doing now? What would you gain? What would you lose?)

  17. MaryL says

    I wish someone had told me that my quest to find myself -
    Trying everything, going from place to place, changing myself, putting up with some difficult people,
    Staying in unhealthy relationships in the hopes that he/they would change,
    Throwing away my portraiture supplies, giving away my china dolls -
    would only come when I decided to sit still
    and allow life to flow over me.
    If I had thought I were good enough, I might have tried this earlier,
    Since I decided the other day to jump in, feet first,
    the splashing is loud as thunder, the rush of the water sings, and my laughter keeps me on key.
    Replay tomorrow.

      • MaryL says

        Laura, thank you … I really went deeply into this …. winding the ball of yarn just right, then letting it roll down the stairs. Love, MaryL

        • cissy says

          From allowing life to flow over me through the rest could go on my mirror or fridge so I see it daily. Love the spirit and diving and play and joy that exudes.

    • Ilana says

      MaryL- This piece had me smiling. I really loved the visual at the end. “the splashing is loud as thunder, the rush of the water sings, and my laughter keeps me on key.
      Replay tomorrow.” Awesome! Ilana

    • Sheila McGinley says

      The splashing is loud as thunder, the rush of the water sings and my laughter keeps me on key. Wow. You made my morning. I heard it all in the song of your words.

    • Judy says

      MaryL, oh, what a way with words you have. Simply splashing in its luscious waters with replay set on autopilot! Thank you so much.

    • Diana says

      Hi Mary, I related to many aspects of this piece and loved the hopeful ending especially “my laughter keeps me on key”

    • Polly says

      Mary, in terms of my experience of reading this, your words flowed smoothly and beautifully – just like the message. I loved it. Thank you.

  18. Debbie says

    I wish someone had told me…
    That I wasn’t responsible for his rage,
    For the drinking that followed,
    For the hospitalization, the blood, the delirium, the decay.
    I wish someone had told me….
    That love doesn’t conquer all
    That guilt serves no purpose except to provide an easy
    Handhold for those who wish to manipulate your heart.
    I wish someone had told me…
    That you can be a “good girl” and still like sex
    That I had more than my body to offer for attention
    That I had a right to say “no” just because I didn’t want to.
    I wish someone had told me….
    After gathering me in a warm loving hug,
    Whispering in soft, dulcet tones
    “You are beautiful, unique, creative, and so NOT average”
    I wish someone had told me…
    That happiness doesn’t mean something bad is about to happen
    There can never be “too much” fun
    Sometimes people can just like you without an ulterior motive.
    I wish someone had told me…
    That it is okay to say “Fuck You” when you are mad
    Anger is a sign of life not a failing
    It is not okay for people to hurt you and call it love.
    I wish someone had told me…
    I have a right to be here
    I don’t have to justify each breath
    Sometimes bad things happen and it is not your fault.
    I wish someone had told me…
    “I choose you” because of whom I am
    Not just “settle” because of their own fear of being alone
    That meeting others’ expectations shouldn’t have to be a condition for affection.
    I wish someone had told me….
    Thank you for being loyal, caring, thoughtful, faithful
    Take my hand and let’s go for a walk, things will be better if we do
    Stay with me because I can’t imagine life without you
    I wish.

    • Hazel says

      Debbie,
      You have compiled a forceful list of “I wish someone had told me . . .” and I felt that the most effective of these would have been,
      “I wish someone had told me…
      That it is okay to say “Fuck You” when you are mad
      Anger is a sign of life not a failing.” I certainly wish I had said a few more of this effective phrase during my lifetime. But then I would not be me if I had.

      My grandmother used to say, “If wishes were horses, we’d all take a ride.” Sometimes we just have to walk until we can make it happen for real.

      Thank you for sharing your powerful list.

    • says

      Debbie, I agree with Hazel–these were so powerful and each one hit me viscerally as I read. I especially loved,

      “That guilt serves no purpose except to provide an easy
      Handhold for those who wish to manipulate your heart.”

      and this line, “I wish someone had told me…
      That happiness doesn’t mean something bad is about to happen”

      and so many others, really…I was right there with you as I read.

    • Debbie says

      Thank you all for the kind words. This response started deep in my core and took a few days to erupt into consciousness. I cried as I crafted it in my mind, again as I put the words to paper and again as I read my posted piece on the blog. Obviously this prompt touched many of us in a powerful way – thank you Laura.

    • Diana says

      Debbie,
      This was so full and rich. I think if I started quoting what I liked most I would end up quoting the whole thing! The one that really rings in my heart is that “Sometimes love doesn’t conquer all” How true, sometimes love really isn’t enough.

    • Polly says

      Debbie, you spoke such truth in this piece. I wish someone had told me each and every one of those things, and more. The fact that you came up with each of those lines means that you learned those lessons yourself, despite the fact that you were not told. This entire piece tells me how strong, courageous and resilient you are. This piece moved me. Thank you.

    • Terry Gibson says

      Debbie, this list saddens and overwhelms me in a good way. It is dynamic, real and raw. Tangible battle scars propel and accumulate such a list. I admire all it must’ve taken to get through to this point. Personally, I can’t imagine a loving soul Not saying and meaning those nurturing words to you. You deserve them.Take good care.

  19. Bobbie Anne says

    I wish someone had told me I was loved when I was little. I was told such negative things and hit when I was a child. While the bruises faded, the hurtful mean words cut me to the core.

    I wish I had more self-esteem. I wish I wasn’t in a long term situation that isn’t working out. I wish someone told me positive things from time to time. I wish someone told me they cared about me and meant it.

    Well, I know that I am loved. I know that I am worth a lot. I know I am here to live and love, to teach and learn, and just to be me. I wish someone told me that earlier, it’s true. However, I know it now.

    • Hazel says

      Thank you for sharing.

      I am right here wishing with you in that “I wish someone told me positive things from time to time.” Living with a very negative person makes it hard to keep up your “positive”.

    • Ilana says

      Bobbie Anne- This piece is not long yet is says so much. I loved how you set it up. Past, then closer to the present and then the victory of the last stanza. Nice job! Ilana

    • Polly says

      Bobbie Anne, I could feel the pain and sadness as I read this, but I’m also so glad to know that you know these truths yourself now. We do, too. Thank you for sharing.

  20. Deb Mansell says

    I wish someone had told me that didn’t have to eat huge amounts to cover the
    pain up, to cover the guilt up, to cover the shame up, that it was ok to feel
    instead.

    I wish someone had told me that no matter how big my suit of fat armour
    became I’d still feel the hurt inside.

    I wish someone had told me about that beautiful creative creature hiding
    behind all the fat is just waiting to be exposed in the sun light.

    I wish someone had told me that it was ok to say ‘No!’ That I didn’t have to do
    the things they made me do. That I had a right to my own body.

    I wish someone had told me that I could say ‘No!’

      • Deb Mansell says

        Hi Diana, this has been important for me to learn that no matter how much I eat it won’t take it away. The feelings will still be there waiting for me to deal with.

    • Laura Davis says

      This was an eloquent description of the pain and consequences of never being taught “no.” Thank you for sharing so intimately with us.

    • Polly says

      Deb, I’m glad you know now that you are beautiful and creative. The lesson that your body belongs solely to you is such an important one. You nailed this. Thanks.

    • Terry Gibson says

      Deb, I admire your openness. Saying no is a hard job, especially when getting there requires more energy and strength than I sometimes think I can manage. I don’t talk about food much but note your courage again. Great job and success here, Deb.

  21. Hazel says

    Deb,
    “I wish someone had told me about that beautiful creative creature hiding
    behind all the fat is just waiting to be exposed in the sun light.” and here you are, and we are telling you what a beautiful creative creature you are, exposed here to the sunlight of other writers who appreciate you for the person you are. Through your beautiful writing you are showing us your lovelyness. We do not know what you look like, what shape you are, we form our pictures through your words.

    “No” is such a simple word it is a puzzle as to why it is so hard to say. Especially to say it so it sounds like you mean it and will back it up with force if necessary. I think more people than we really know about have trouble with this tiny word.

    Thank you for sharing.

    • Deb Mansell says

      Thank you Hazel, I feel held and supported and seen as “me” here in these posts. I don’t have to pretend to be someone else.

  22. Diana says

    I wish someone had told me, “You’d be great!” when as a nine year old I proclaimed, “I want to be a doctor!”

    The dream of a child is a sacred, yet fragile thing. It must be treated as a foundling; nurtured, nestled and protected from predators.
    The predator stalked my dream as my mother said,
    “People like us don’t become doctors.”
    “You gotta know somebody to get into medical school.”
    “Well, you better get straight A’s if you think YOU’RE going to medical school.”
    Her bitterness pierced hard, sharp and jagged like an Indian arrow head.
    The dream floundered and died of neglect.

    I wish my teacher had told me, “You’d be great”.

    I signed up for Journalism as my 10th grade elective. I loved doing interviews and reporting on school events. The alcohol and India ink smell of mimeograph fluid and the Ker chunk, Ker chunk rhythm of the machine filled me with joy. I thrilled in meeting our deadline. I felt an incomparable sense of pride seeing my by-line in each edition. I was at home in our classroom turned newsroom. It was the one place I felt secure, confident and capable.

    I handed my latest assignment, an interview with the elementary school librarian on grade school reading programs, to my editor-10th grade English teacher. I tentatively announced, “I want to major in Journalism in college.” She looked up over her reading glasses, judgmental eyes coring into me, chuckled and said, “You write like you talk.” I didn’t know what that meant or why it was so bad, but I clearly understood I had expressed a dream for which I had no talent. Before my aspiration could break forth and reach for sustenance, it withered and died. My dreams and I both became smaller.

    I wish someone had told me, “Keep your dreams close to your heart and safely hidden in your belly.” Let your dream grow grand and strong. Feed it with passion and desire. Keep it hidden away from the bitter, disappointed and envious for they will surely kill it. Do all these things and when your dream emerges to become reality it will be unwavering and heroic.

    I wish someone had told me and that it would be true that if you smite the dreams of a child then God will smite you.

    • Laura Davis says

      Diana, thanks for sharing this story. I loved the kerchunk of the mimeo machine. I rememer that well. And thanks for the reminder of how vulnerable children are to having their dreams squashed.

      I hope you find ways to feed your dreams today. Not everything is still possible, but some things may still be.

    • Polly says

      Diana, you captured a child’s feelings of rejection so well. It all starts out so hopeful, but can be squashed with a single disapproving look. I hope you’re able to follow some beautiful passion or truly fulfilling calling someday. We’ll all be cheering you on.

    • Terry Gibson says

      Diana, I hear what other’s do too. I wish you were told those things as well and that you were given lots of encouragement, praise for your ambition and the energy and potential to make it all happen. I am sorry it didn’t work out. I wanted the same thing and was on our newspaper in Grade 11. I will cheer you on no matter what you do or where you go and I mean it.

      • Diana says

        Laura, Polly and Terry,
        Many dreams have come true with the support of key people and I will always be grateful for them. Other dreams I kept close to the chest and revealed only when the dream was mature. Stepping out and joining The Writer’s Journey is growing my writing dream although some days I still wrestle the critical parent and teacher. Thank you all for spiriting me on.

    • Ilana says

      Diana- This is so well put. It flowed beautifully and the pictures you drew deeply affected me. What a beautiful thing to be a part of, a child’s dream and those people treated it so badly.

      After I gave birth to our third child and we finally had a son my husband got me a card. It went on for a while about all I will give my son, all I have given him already and then it ended with this. “You cannot give him his dreams, though, for those will be his alone. May they lead him to all that is beautiful in life, and with your loving help and support, my he make every one come true.”

      This is how your dreams should have been treated. This is how every child should be treated. I wish you all the best in taking back what is yours. Ilana

      • Diana says

        Hi Ilana, I am working at taking my writing dream back, perhaps in a different form than the 10th grade girl. Thanks for you encouragment and support.

  23. Shannon says

    I wish someone would have told me that Friday morning would have been my last opportunity to say goodbye to my Cali, in person, while she was still alive.

    I wish someone could have grabbed my arm on the way, rushing to work, to tell me to reach down and tell her that I loved her instead of pushing her leg out of my way so I could get through the door.

    I wish someone would have taught me the proper way to take care of my beautiful Sheltie or at least that I would have listened to them when they tried.

    I wish I would have taken her for the dental that I was told that she needed, instead of thinking, “Whatever, she is a dog…”

    I wish her teeth were not rotting out of her mouth on the day she died & likely the cause of her early demise at the young age of 13.

    I wish I would have come home right away when my husband told me, over the phone, that she couldn’t get off the floor or lift her head.

    I wish I could have said, “I’m sorry that we are 4 nurses down today in the ICU, but my dog needs me NOW!!!”

    I wish someone would have said, “Go NOW- Go NOW!!! She might actually die!!!”

    I wish I wouldn’t have had to talk to her through the phone to tell her I loved her and that it was ok to go. I wish I didn’t have to hear her take her last breaths over the telephone. I should have been holding her with more than my heart when she crossed over into the arms of God.

    I wish I didn’t have to come home early on Friday to bury her after it was too late to see her alive one last time. I should have been with her!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I wish that someone would have told me how bad it feels to let someone go when you have so many regrets.

    I wish that Eve hadn’t bit the apple, and that we all lived happily & forever with God in our lives and we knew it…

    • Diana says

      Hi Shannon, as a dog lover, this piece hit home. As my little poodle terrier snuggles at my feet, your words remind me to give her an extra hug. I think I would feel the same way about work, “Sorry your short, but my dog is dying and needs me”. I felt you words in the pit of my stomach.

    • Debbie says

      Shannon – as I love on my beautiful border collie “baby” – who is coming up on 13 years old – I wipe away the tears of regret I feel on your behalf. Love is love and often our four legged companions are more faithful than the two legged ones. She knew you loved her – one day does not mitigate years of loving care. I am so sorry for your loss.

    • Polly says

      Shannon, this hit me as well. I have two adorable shih tzus and I consider them to be my babies. They are everything to me, yet I also have brief moments when I overlook that. I don’t know if it’s possible to always show your loved ones how much they mean to you, 24/7. I’m so sorry about Cali. Sending her (and you) some warm thoughts of appreciation. Thank you.

    • Terry Gibson says

      Shannon, I am so sorry for your loss. Last December, a cat of mine died out of nowhere. We had her for 11 years and she gave me much comfort when I was lonely. We miss her so much. Take good care of yourself.

    • Shannon says

      Thank you all for your kind thoughts and words. I really needed them. I am thankful for every moment I spent with her. She was/is my protector and my best friend. I will not let our love for one another be tarnished with regrets. I believe that she is with me more now than she ever could have been in her beautiful tri-colored body. She is the love of my life & she will live in my heart forever more…
      Thank you, Laura, for giving me this place to speak from my heart. I was not sure what the prompt was going to be on Sunday when I went onto your site, but it was definitely the prompt that I needed to start bringing healing to my broken heart.

  24. Terry Gibson says

    I Wish Someone Had Told Me -

    I matter.

    My life holds as much promise as anyone else’s.

    A mistake or failure does not mean I am a disgusting, stupid person.

    Suffering multiple traumas, can muddle my brain and emotions. It cannot however rob me of my lovability or intellectual prowess.

    It is never too late for me.

    Crying doesn’t mean death.

    Grief might not burst every water pipe.

    There are good and bad counsellors.

    I can survive the ones who do more damage.

    Confrontations with them will be hurtful. It can affect me for a long time. That is not, however, more evidence of how ‘ill’ I am, even if those with credentials say differently.

    Under guidance from exemplary counsellors, I will safely unravel it all and reintegrate.

    Don’t ever run away from a friendship. Slow down. Breathe in and out. Concentrate. When I realize I’m scared to death, TELL them. Don’t write a hastily scribbled note and disappear.

    Making love for an afternoon is not a promise, or even love. Unless it is.

    There is a time to speak. Transparency in my thoughts and emotions is necessary sometimes.

    Holding back can be the most effective choice on occasion. As I grow, I will intuitively know the difference.

    I won’t die if I breathe thru my nervous energy. Give my friends a chance to speak too. I must wrap myself in my own arms and wait. It’ll be worth it.

    People don’t need to feel bad about loneliness. There’s no shame in it.

    Don’t offer people every single detail. Someone may care naturally and even ask the next time on their own initiative.

    I’ll have many defence mechanisms in life. I will stop useless habit for sure. Telling people it’s okay not to write back or communicate again with me to protect myself from disappointment. I will do this because for years, nobody in my family acknowledged, let alone replied to me. Friends do take offence to this behavior and get upset. They think I am rejecting them.

    Fight agains this. Don’t succumb to society’s love of weighing, measuring, categorizing and even demanding makeovers of people it deems unattractive and unacceptable.

    Don’t define and label others or myself.

    Many views I’ll espouse to frequently in life won’t even be mine. They are just the predominant voice at any given moment. When I’m sick or tired, it’s a non-stop chorus of people bellying up to the bar, so to speak, screaming and babbling as if there are no noise bylaws.

    I am worthy of people’s trust.

    Being a sexual assault survivor does not define, cheapen, damage or make me a joke.

    My life matters.

    Listen to the people I trust. I won’t always gauge them right but the good ones mean no harm. They don’t want to control me but help me to help myself.

    Let people know I value them. Anything can happen; maybe I won’t see them again. I’m not asking for or expecting anything. It’s okay.

    Be kind and caring. It isn’t weird. It is the real me.

    It doesn’t mean I’m mentally ill, a stalker, a control freak or someone trying to inject myself into another’s life. That would be so far from the truth.

    Shame, rage and bitterness can eat me alive.

    Words can hurt and embarrass. Give me gut pains and send my head reeling. They do other things too. One well-played, eloquent string can set off healing reverberations all over the globe, which burst, bud and re-flower in milliseconds.

    There is great power in sharing library cards and coffee.

    Within society, there are many groups. Being part of one does not mean they won’t judge me as they do others.

    Families and schools are miniature societies and wield great influence.

    Having only one option is no choice at all.

    Use all ideas that come to me. Write them down.

    NEVER stop. Do it compulsively.

    Write through everything.

    Do NOT succumb to despair.

    Listen for my authentic voice, the quieter one. Do this often.

    When they hurt me, I’ll come to despise authority with every ounce of energy I have. When I emerge from that (and I will), I’ll need and want to turn that around. I will choose always choose to give and nurture respect for those worthy of it.

    Men came after me because of their desires not mine. There isn’t a nasty word carved in my forehead.

    Saying nothing is not an agreement or contract.

    Confidence and arrogance are not the same thing.

    Things can go well. Good fortune won’t always evaporate into the heat radiating off a newly-tarred road.

    If a person who matters is angry with me, it doesn’t mean they DESPISE and LOATHE the very sight of me. It won’t mean people should throw me away like rubbish.

    Again, it is never too late for me.

    Never forget that.

    • Diana says

      Terry, this is filled with so much wisdom and consideration for every word. I found myself saying yes, yes to so many lines. I espcially loved “Write through everything”. And “It’s never to late for me. Never forget that” I need to past that one on my bathroom mirror.

      • Terry Gibson says

        Thanks Diana. I need to cut this list into strips and paper the walls with them. My partner does that kind of stuff when I’m not looking. Suddenly, while brushing my teeth, I’ll find ‘I Like YOU,’ on the mirror and ‘You give good hugs (to people and goldfish.’) on my laptop screen. Let the re-decorating begin! Love your comments always, by the way.

    • Polly says

      Terry, this was incredible. I’m so glad I stayed up to read each post on this prompt tonight. Your amazing strength and self-awareness shine through which each piece of yours that I read. Thanks for giving us all a glimpse. I, for one, am grateful for that.

    • Hazel says

      Terry,
      Thank you for sharing this powerful piece. You have turned the negatives in your life into positives here and that is very good. And, you are right, it is never too late for me and please, never for get that.

    • Ilana says

      Wow Terry- You hit it all. There is so much in this; so much pain but also wisdom and hope. Beautifully put. Ilana

  25. Terry Gibson says

    I Wish Someone Had Told Me To Be Wary Of Someone Out There -

    It was my favourite t-shirt, the one that said, ‘Got coffee?’

    At school only minutes later, I broke a fingernail clawing against a cement wall, as a wild-eyed, dark-haired woman–the media had dubbed the ‘Rogue Grammarian’–ran at me with a huge red pen in hand.

    I fainted, right after wishing I had worn the eraser-necklace they gave all students to protect themselves. “Seeing these will soothe her,” the profiler told us.

    After waking up on a gurney, the Police gave me slow sips of filtered water. I grounded myself. Stopped my body’s shaking. Soon a female officer stood me in front of a mirror in the Ladies’ to view the evidence. My lovely shirt now read, ‘Gotz milk, d’ya?”

    ‘I’m sorry,” Captain Becky O’Malley said. “This is not the work of the ‘Rogue.” As if for effect, or another camera angle, she then got up and plunked down on the opposite edge of her desk. Tossing back her curly auburn mane, she turned and gave me the two mile stare. “This is NOT the teacher on the lam my Task Force is seeking.”

    “There are OTHERS?” I said, barely audible. My mouth went dry and pupils dilated. Hanging my head, I compulsively twisted and wrenched at the bottom of my shirt. When I looked down, in my exhaustion, I saw a ragged tea towel.

    “I’ll get an officer to drive you home.”

    That’s IT? What about the trauma of seeing grammar equally damaging to my own? The burden of knowing how I damaged other young writers by my choice of t-shirt. My fingernail. Anybody?

    There it was. Yes. Even the proverbial tumbleweed manifested itself, doing somersaults with an easy drawl, all the way down the corridor.

    Captain Becky came back with green eyes feigning seriousness and dangling keys from her fingers. “I decided to drive you home myself.”

    “But I live hours away,” I sputtered.

    She nodded and reassured me. That was no problem at all.

    I tried not to smile, happy I was never told of these dangers.
    ******
    PS: Hope it is okay to post this second piece. Since this week is ending, I crossed fingers it’d be okay.

    • Polly says

      This piece was creative and fun! It reminded me of an old favourite tank top I used to have, with the words “Got me?” printed on the front. Nicely done :)

          • Polly says

            That’s okay. In my comment on your previous piece, I wrote, “which each piece of yours that I read”, so now we’re even.

            Check the little shops in Whistler to see if those tank tops are still there. Do it!

    • Debbie says

      Terry – I will nod and reassure you that a second posting this week, well “That was no problem at all.” What fun! Thanks for this second round.

  26. Lucy says

    A Kaleidoscope Life

    I wish that someone told me that being different is what makes the world a kaleidoscope. A tube filled with whimsical colors of humanity, garlands of beliefs and sparkles of cultures mingled together and with a turn of the wrist creates a vision of beauty especially when held up to the warm light of life itself. A world that with every turn the chaos of colors continue to put on a show of wonder love.

    Instead I was told I didn’t need or want such a toy. That it was a privilege to live in a lily white world void of any color or diversity. That the wonder of being different was to be feared and avoided. Instead of opening our hearts and minds I was told to shut that down and focus on keeping up and looking right.

    To apply to the right ivy league colleges and to get into the right country club so I can keep living in a world where no color existed and minds were closed shut with eyes that refuse to see. Hearts that reject rather than accept.

    I’m glad I didn’t listen.

    I was dying in a world I was told about and found the one that I wished someone told me about long ago.

    Today I am fully alive in a kaleidoscope life.

    • Polly says

      Lucy, this was great! I also love diversity and have always sought it. I’m glad you found it. Thanks for posting.

    • Terry Gibson says

      Lucy, this story is so heart-warming to me. Like you, I fought hard for a kaleidoscopic life and am so happy now. Your descriptions of that kaleidoscope are breathtaking. Thanks so much for sharing this.

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