forgive yourself the nights you climb into bed full-face of makeup, too tired to take it off. forgive yourself the days when one latte is not enough, when the two major food groups are coffee and sugar. forgive yourself that one night when at two am you woke to use the bathroom and inhaled an entire chocolate bar instead. forgive the time spent with a man you now have not one nice thing to say about. and forgive just how long it took to get over him. he was not good and not kind and he is not your fault. keep some secrets closer. forgive yourself for actually loving the gentle curve of your hips. and to hell with a society which suggests you might not or should not. they herald your womanhood, the man you marry will lose himself in them, they will hoist groceries and children. they are sturdy--anchoring you firmly to this earth. forgive the nights you cannot sleep--sadness or some unnamed force pressing heavy on your chest. forgive the mistakes of the last several years. so you made them. okay. enough. move on. the mistakes and the fault-lines, they are the foundation. forgive yourself that you did not choose an easier path. and forgive yourself the sadness you caused those around you. the broken-promises and cutting words and the things left unsaid. fear was large and biting. forgive the anger you feel. feel it and then look again with kinder eyes. forgive yourself for not handling it all better, for feeling like you let others down. the path is not done, the road is not finished, why are you trying so hard to rush the whole thing? celebrate the fact that your story has some major departures. go ahead and use that expensive serum that promises to diminish those fine lines. protect and preserve your skin. but when the day does come when forehead creases no longer fade into the background, give thanks. humanity made visible! you will be loved all the more for this. you will love yourself all the more for this. and please, for the love of all that is good and holy forgive yourself for loving a man who cannot love you back. love him anyway. send that love into the world and let it fill you up. the only way to know the story is to go out and and write it. live your way into it. ferociously. begin to live and work and fight and love with an unparalleled ferocity. let fear dictate nothing. unfurl your chest, you have all the armor you'll ever need. see with wide eyes and don't forget to laugh.
photo by Emma Hartvig