Through our love for each other, we have learned to love the parts of ourselves we used to hide when we were younger. In this piece, we are revisiting our dark pasts, inviting our younger selves into the light, and telling them, “We are sorry. We love you.”
Throughout our adolescent years, we struggled to find belonging. Shame colored our femme fantasies; it tinged them with pain as we convinced ourselves they didn’t belong to us.
Grounded in a stronger sense of self, we are returning to our old daydreams of our femme potential. We are finally reaching a place we always longed for but could not name: self-acceptance. As we face these mirrors, we are apologizing to our younger selves. We know now it is because of them, not despite them, that we have made it to this point in our lives.
“Alex, I am sorry I hated you, hated myself. I hated you for dancing like Britney Spears, for having crushes on boys who scared you, for thinking it would have been easier if you had been born a girl. I am sorry I was so hard on you. You did not know how to be a man and I am grateful you never learned. You are enough. You were always enough. I love you. Thank you for doing your best to survive. Thank you for protecting our femme, keeping it burning in the secret quiet of the night, in the lines of poems, and in your held breath. We are alive. I am sorry. Look at us glow.”
“River, thank you for remaining a gentle soul when the world was anything but gentle. I know you struggled with letting go of resentment. I know it was hard to be vulnerable. You felt lonely. You were hurting. Yet, from where I stand now, you were perfect all along. You made love your anchor. As hard as everything felt, you wrote me into existence. You brought me to life through the pages of your journal. You watched our mother with admiration so I could become a woman she would be proud of. Without your rebellious spirit, I would not exist. Thank you. I am watching over you from afar. Remember, I am the poet within you. Find me and I promise you freedom.”
In our acceptance of our younger selves, we are allowing ourselves to feel sadness for who we could have been, but we are also giving our past selves new form: What if we had met sooner? What if we had taken each other to prom? What if we had fallen in love as teenagers? What if we had held each other when we needed to be loved? Somewhere in the universe, our past selves are dancing together, healing together.
Constructing these shared memories—transcending time and space—is perhaps one of the most healing practices of our love. We fully believe our relationship is a perfect expression of retrocausality. Our present love is healing our past pains. We are erasing the toxic messages we made ourselves believe, rewriting the characters we were supposed to be. Learning how to love and be loved is helping us embrace the parts of ourselves we thought were unlovable. We fell in love with ourselves through the reflections we saw in each other’s eyes. In those reflections, we found our femme.
Ultimately, apologizing to our past selves and reimagining them as empowered characters has given us peace. Despite suppressing it, we have come to realize our femme was always watching over us, like a ghost waiting to join the world of the living. We are transforming the pain of our pasts into something beautiful.
Photography by Marisa Kimmel