An Homage to What I Could Have Been

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It was a moment of disparity. I pined for what I knew I had no hope for. When I saw myself, I saw two people. A younger, more vulnerable me — and an older version of her. When I was younger, I wondered what I would be like when I got old. What kind of person would I be? I just wanted closure, a chance to gain newfound hope, and a reason to stay. If there was any of that.

I knew I had my moments when my heart felt full. Like it was filled with water, and I could ring it out, then feel empty again. It was a never-ending cycle, a feeling that would haunt me forever. What’s there to do when everything is so prevalent, yet so foreign? These thoughts are nothing new, and the pain is all the same, but I fear of becoming numb to it. I want it to be different, maybe suffer differently.

Everything was so loud outside, and it was diverting my attention. It must have been a special day today, the Fourth of July? I don’t remember what day it was, I never do. I see myself surrounded by empty wine bottles, my rejection letter to law school, a mirror, and a lighter on the floor.

My mom is pointing at me, disappointingly. “Who is more important to you?”

I’m confused but I hide that confusion with wonder, as if I’m in deep thought. I knew my mom always wanted me to be something she would be happy to brag about, she had high expectations for me. It takes me a while to think, but I realized my choices were the empty bottles, smoking, my career, her, or myself. Was this really my life? Not being able to survive a day without alcohol or smoking and disappointing my mom? Even me? I thought even harder, but I really did not know, I don’t think I wanted to. God, those fireworks; can the world just shut up for a second and let me think?

No. It was useless. My deranged delusions lead me nowhere.

I glanced at myself in the mirror and winced at what I saw. The pressure of being perfect.

The pressure of being persistent.

Being smart.

Making my mother proud.

Living a life not of my own.

All that pressure was visible on my face. The premature wrinkles, graying strands of hair, dark circles, chapped lips, cigarette burn scars on my back, and bloodshot watery eyes. I suddenly forgot what I used to look like, when I was normal, since I sacrificed myself to ungodly muses.

I went back to my unmade bed and laid down while staring vacantly at the ceiling. The only way to get me to sleep was to imagine I was in a never-ending slumber, so I did just that and closed my eyes.


There she was. A young, beautiful, soft-faced child. I wanted to hold her, tell her to please change the way she takes care of herself, to be careful with who she becomes friends with, get involved with more activities, and maybe, just maybe be a bit nicer.

She’s quietly talking to herself through a mirror, and I know she is wishing there could be someone to comfort the burden that she holds.

“If only I were different, to be someone that everyone respects,” she says in a hushed tone, like she’s afraid of someone hearing her.

Darkness troubled my eyes, those thoughts were familiar, too familiar. I personally knew all too well the change in which she was referring to. This change was regrettable, but I forced it to be me; the girl was looking for that, in fact she yearned for it. I can’t blame her — she felt alienated and wanted to live a life full of purpose and promise.

I did what I used to do, and just talked. To her. To understand her. To help her.

“You know, those feelings won’t go away, right? Better to suck it up and just be yourself. You don’t get tired of the same old self-deprecation; I mean come on I’m sure it gets boring?” I dreadfully say.

I wonder if she hears me, but she says nothing. Just…looks at herself in disgust, as if she can’t believe someone like her was born. I ponder about what led to this. Societal standards? An ex? Parents? I don’t know, but what I do know is that her face is tainted with shame, reflecting what her soul feels on the inside. Girls like her are see-through, that’s why it’s so easy to manipulate their feelings and make them feel inferior to those around them.

Either way, I see myself in her. When I was young and in pain, I wanted someone to help me like I wanted to help her.

That young girl represents someone who needs help, I represent someone who never got it. But it makes sense: what’s there to fix when my mind, body, and soul have adapted to lifelessness? Yeah, I want to be different, but it’s only to go back to what I used to be — and to accept her.

“Come on! Figure out what’s wrong with you!” The girl says, but this time it sounds like a plea, that she wants to fix what doesn’t need to be fixed.

I don’t know why I even try; I mean there’s a reason why I stopped talking.

“There’s nothing wrong. You can’t figure it out, because…there’s nothing wrong.” I sit there and aimlessly hope that she hears me, even if it’s for a second. Of course, I know she can’t, but girls like her don’t want to hear the truth because they’re sucking up all the pain and indifference that they feel, so they could use it as motivation for change. Although, that almost never ends well.

She faintly speaks while looking at the ground. “Would it be worth it?”

Would it be worth it. I remember asking that question myself. When I think about it, the memory is fogged up with heavy clouds of acid rain and sometimes it lashes down on me hard like a thunderstorm, the lighting feeling like an attack I wanted to forget. I swallow down the itching memory and let it fall under the gaping ocean where harsh waves crash in my mind, to where it’s dark and cold, ample for the pressure to kill you if you swim deep enough. Because I see myself swimming and trying to come back up for air, so I could ask for help. On the surface where there are fishermen trying to catch their next meal, buoys that decorate the large body of water, to where children are playing in the sand. The secrets that blanket the gloomy ocean being the only thing that’s holding me down. This abuse in my mind was my penance.

“No, so p-please stop. I don’t want you to turn out raw and unfiltered, depressed and forgetful. You have potential to be someone you would love, and it would just be your authentic self.” I would have preferred to say that composed and stable, but I was shamefully sobbing instead. Because I knew that girl was me. A younger, beautiful, soft-faced, more vulnerable me.

It’s like using a butter knife to cut meat, but getting frustrated because it’s not cutting through. So, you sharpen and sharpen and sharpen the butter knife until finally, it breaks in half. Then there’s no use for it anymore. You look back and think, what have I done? It was only meant to spread condiments, but I thought I could’ve crafted it to do more. You realized your mistakes, but it’s too late. There’s nothing you could do about it.

This dream was a curse and a blessing to me. It was supposed to be used as a lesson: to teach me what I could have done differently, and to analyze what went wrong — so I could figure out how I should’ve fixed the pain I felt, in a lively way. This dream was used to help me heal my inner child, to guide her to live a fulfilling life that she would enjoy. But this dream was also a curse, because even though I could look back on my mistakes, the young girl would never hear my begging, it was simply my subconscious. I was unwittingly looking at what I have created, without being able to settle it.

The endmost takeaway: to teach myself how to be better for the future. Ultimately, that’s what I took from this dream because I desperately needed it.

Alas, it was still myself, the only person who ended up helping me.