My first clear memory is of violence. I said something that warranted having my mouth washed out with soap. Of course, nobody wants soap in their mouth, so I cried, screamed, and fought my mother. I was slapped, pinned down, and yelled at. I do not remember how, but I got out of her grip. I ran and hid under my bed in the far corner where she could not reach me. When I refused to come out, she told me I would have to come out eventually, and she would be waiting. Whether it was the need to relieve my bladder, a rumble in my tummy, or since she calmed down and it was okay to come out that drew me out from under the bed – I cannot say – but Mother was right, she was waiting. I still get sick if I get a hint of soap in my mouth. This is one example. Sadly, there were a thousand more which molded you, changed you, and were mechanisms for survival coping skills I use to this day.
Oh, Self, I know you are in such a place of self-loathing right now. The vision, not only in the mirror but in your mind’s eye, is one of disgust and despair. You, I, we see ourselves as a failure. Especially over the last few weeks, when it seems every waking moment, the only thing seen, felt, or heard is a number. Three digits, when put together, bring such a sense of utter failure. Physically, mentally, and emotionally we are in such a deep, dark place where we feel the light will never touch us again.
Sweetest Self, you have been through hellfire. Yet, from the tender age of first memory to the very recent of today, you have survived and persevered. You have clung to hope and allowed it to blossom into meaningful action. I know you don’t feel it or even see it, but you have. Even ED (aka eating disorder) came from a place to help protect and allow you to keep moving forward. I know your knees hurt, and your backaches. I know sleep is elusive many nights. I know you suffer in silence because you feel like it is what you deserve. You’ve wrapped your head around that number and the feeling of failure it brings, but YOU ARE HERE. No matter the aches, pains, swelling, weight, tears, and frustration, you are here. You have made it to this point in your life.
Those three digits you see and feel with such shame mean that despite the abuse, assaults, and molestations, you are still here to tell your tale. The body you turn away from in the mirror when getting out of the shower or do your best to keep covered or try and hide away from the world by staying indoors survived it all. Look in the mirror. Really look. The rolls. The stretch marks. The fat. The flab. The scars. Every one of them is a testament to “fuck it! I’m not giving up.”
My dearest Self, the number is just a number. I know you don’t see it. I know you don’t feel it. I know you want to believe otherwise. But, the truth is, you are more than just that number. You are worthy and beautiful and caring and wonderful and kind. I promise one day you’ll see past the number and not only know but feel you are so much more.
And this letter is to remind you of that always.
Photo by Cameo Monroe