If time travel were possible…

  July 13th, 2018 by thehusk

There are times when I desperately long to go back, and do it all differently. But suppose it really were possible to go back in time, and change the course of events. I feel like the only way to do it would require me travelling there, as I am now, and somehow influencing who I was then. Maybe some sort of mentor figure, intervening before it was too late. Training myself to endure in the face of hostility. To stay true to myself rather than letting fear control me. Not to cut myself off as a protection mechanism. To be open to life and it’s opportunities. To have the courage to try things I felt unsure about. The right moments to let my guard down.

But even if all that were possible, and I somehow managed to shape a version of myself that was well-adjusted, content, and connected with those around him, I feel like I’d still be stuck as this version of me. If I returned to the present, I don’t think I’d magically become that person. I think I’d have created an alternate copy of myself. And he’d be living this happy, well-adjusted life in my place. But I’d still be stuck as this miserable, twisted screw-up. I’d still have all the memories and experiences from the life that I’ve lived, even though in some objective sense they hadn’t occurred. Maybe that would be some kind of paradox. But I feel that’s how it would be.

It would be a better reality, without the aggravation I’ve caused those around me, or the wrongs that I’ve done. That other version of me could actually play a positive role in the world. But it wouldn’t get me what I actually long for. To be that other person. To live that different life. To have those different experiences.

As far as I know you can’t change the past. It would appear I am stuck with the choices that I’ve made. All that I can decide is what choices I want to make going forward. But I can’t see any way of becoming who I long to be, with the knowledge of my past. There is no way to make up for the lost experiences and opportunities. Those times are gone. My mind has become old, and set in it’s ways. My preferences, habits, reactions – it’s all shaped. Sure, there’s some plasticity there still, but this is largely who I am now. I can decide to act differently, going forward. But the underlying pattern of experiencing the world is set. And I don’t know how to live with that. How to live with myself. I can’t unsee the things I’ve seen, or forget what I’ve thought and felt. I carry it with me, everywhere I go, and the weight of it feels unbearable.

Moving forward with all this in my mind feels impossible. My brain is trapped in the past, and any future experience gets shaped through that. It’s all stuck in my head, and it eats away at me, no matter what I do. I can’t forget, and I don’t know how to let go of it all. I can’t see how I’ll ever be able to connect with another person again. The past is always there. The knowledge of what I’ve done, and who I’ve been.

I long for a chance to go back and do it all differently. But what I’m effectively longing for there is an end to myself. To the person who did things this way, and ended up so irreparably screwed up, beyond all hope. An end to me, to my life, and someone completely different in my place.


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