If I Could Travel Back In Time. {poetry}

If I could go back

and talk to

sweet, innocent,


18-year-old girl-woman me,

what would I say?

I would look past the carefully practiced smile

the one she’s learned to flash so brightly

that she thinks you can’t see past to the pain

she thinks you can’t see the agony

she thinks you can’t see the damage

she thinks you can’t see the aloneness

the hollow echoing brokenness

I would look right into her eyes

eyes so full of sadness and shame

defeat and doubt

and I would tell her

I see her

I see her

I See Her

the her behind the contrived smile

the her she tries so hard to hide

the one who cries herself to sleep

the one who feels stuck between worlds

the one who feels like she has bricks

tied around her ankles

pulling her down

into the bottomless wasteland

sucking the breath and life right out of her

the one who hates herself

so much

that she doesn’t eat

that she drinks too much

that she cuts herself

that she thinks she deserves

the abuse

from herself

that she’s sure she deserves

the abuse

from him

I would pull her into the safety

of my now 42-year-old arms

I would wrap her up so tight

I would pour my love for her

into all of her cracks and crevices

into all the bloody mess

into the deepest darkest places

it can reach

onto every inch of her silken skin

and comb it through her matted hair

I would wipe away her tears

I would kiss her freckled cheeks

her fingertips

the scars on her arms

her eyes and the tip of her nose

her lips

the hollow of her neck

the bruises

I would fill her up with love

and with acceptance

so that there was no room for anything else

I would lie down beside her

with my arms wrapped around her

I would hold her all night

I would hold her all day

I would hold her for a lifetime

for as long as it took

I would fill her up with good

and drown out all the bad, all the monsters

all the demons, all the ghosts

that hide and lurk and torture her

night after night

day after day


I would erase all the self-hate talk

from her vocabulary

and replace the damaging words

with Hope, with Trust, with Love, with Goddess,

with Strength, with Woman, with Warrior, with Good,

with Beauty, with Magic, with Soul, with Kindness,

with Gratitude, with Direction, with Future, with Purpose

with Passion, with Promise, with Grace, with Healing

with Courage, with Acceptance, with Belonging, with Enough

I would say the words, sing the words, yell the words,

bleed the words, write the words, whisper the words,

trace the words

over and over and over again

I would fill her up

with the feeling of them, with the knowing of them,

with the wanting of them, with the longing for them,

with the pleasure of them

until that

was all she knew.


MelissaDodsonMelissa Dodson is a California girl who found her home in the trees of Portland, OR. She’s a wife and mom, a writer and a Death Midwife. She writes about being a motherless daughter, grief, depression, vulnerability, and the beauty of a messy life. She is a dream-catcher, a grief-warrior, a survivor, a book-whore. Her work has been featured on Rebelle Society, The Tattooed Buddha, The Manifest-Station, behind-the-ink, and Some Talk of You & Me, among other online publications. She is the founder and curator of the Grief Rites Readers Series in Portland, OR. You could listen to her as the featured guest on the podcast On The Block Radio with Andrew Gurevich, and follow her blog, or find her on  Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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