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Letting The Skin Horse Start The Story

Posted Sep 30 2010 11:17pm

The only way for me to sum up my current state would be through this excerpt of one of my favorite books, “The Velveteen Rabbit”

From “The Velveteen Rabbit” by Margery Williams

“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s way it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

I cant help but tear up when I read it, right around the part about it not happening often to people who break easily, or who have to be carefully kept, because that’s me.  I never wanted to admit that before. When  in the past I pressed Alex for an answer he would honestly tell me that I am needy, and high maintinence. I thought those were very bad things to be , and so I would try my hardest not to ask anyone for help at all, especially him. I was going to show everyone. These past two years I have reached out for help more than I ever have in my entire life. I took what was always brushed under the rug and announced my lifelong struggle with mental illness to my entire family. I went in for hospital treatment. I was constantly trying to pour from an empty pitcher; I so longed to give and give.

I passed my Math class this summer with an A. I do not see that as much of a triumph, as this is math I should know, fairly remedial, honestly. But I was scared to take the class and I did it anyway. About 3/4 of the way through I was bedridden with back pain of a level I have never experienced. I always measure my pain on the one to childbirth scale and this surpassed childbirth and approached the “I can see why terminally ill patients ask for doctor assisted suicide” point. I consulted my primary care physician and she referred me to a pain management specialist who also happens to be a back surgeon. He took some images and asked me if I’d been in a car accident. I was going to joke that my life was a train-wreck, but I couldn’t even muster the energy for that. He pointed out three things that the other doctor who had been treating me had missed for ten years. Ten years where I had been treated like a drug addict because I had asked for pills or surgery or anything that would help with the pain. I went through four sessions of physical therapy. I don’t even want to think about the money in medical bills. This doctor suggested a surgery where I would be sedated and then he could do four injections of cortisone or whatever they do. Honestly, I was in so much pain I didn’t even care what he was doing. I looked him up online and he had a lot of satisfied patients. He explained to me that he was going to insert a tiny little camera inside of me to not only show him where to inject, but for him to get a better look at where and what was causing the extreme pain. I had the procedure on a Friday and made it back to school the following Thursday with all of my homework ready to hand in. My beautiful niece Audrey, who is 23 and taking Math with me, came over to my mom’s to help me study. Yes, my mom’s. I asked my mom if I could recover at her house. She has no steps and I knew that she would be able to take care of me in a way that Alex just can’t. I have to just admit that now, and stop asking him to be someone he’s not.

I mentioned before that I had decided to get in contact with my former best friend. If you don’t know the story it’s titled “Two Ships” and I wrote it in two parts. I am feeling too lazy to link to it. I had expected that it might be painful for me to talk to him again, and it was and it is. I hadn’t expected that in so many ways it would just be as if no time had passed at all, and I would quickly be able to relax and know it was okay to just be me. I can’t think now that he is someone who will never hurt me, because he did. But I hurt him too, and life gave us the opportunity to talk about it seven years later and I am grateful for that.

During the break between summer classes and fall classes I had bilateral hip injections. I just wanted to get it over with and really start to feel better. I don’t recommend it, honestly. The pain was so severe that I was unable to walk. I stayed at my mom’s for four days. She got out the walker that I had used with her when she had her knee replacement surgery. It was hard for me to be the patient instead of the caregiver. I had to let go of so much, but my dignity was never taken from me, and for that I was and am grateful. My siblings each came over to visit me by choice. It seems possible that I may be able to have relationships with them again one day. It is hard for me to be around them , honestly. They know so many things that still haunt me to this day and I just want to hold a big eraser and wipe it clean and start over. Maybe that’s why it has been easier for me to spend so much time with my niece, she doesn’t know a lot of what I did, or what was done to me. I wish there was a way to put down that weight, to remember that I was just an abused and scared little girl, but oh I am my harshest critic.

I am only taking four credit hours currently, because I missed the deadline to get my financial aid forms in (I was in the hospital and school wasn’t on my mind) and so I have applied for financial aid late. I have an appointment with a financial adviser tomorrow. I already met with a career counselor and I still don’t know which direction I am headed and I am not really worried about it right now. I think I’m somehow going to end up where I should be. I usually don’t sound so new agey and shit, but I believe it will come to me. So, right now I am just taking the next math class, one level up. This class is so much harder and I’ve already met with the teacher privately to tell her that I’m struggling. She said that I currently have an A, but I told her that I have been looking at the answers in the back of the book to make sure my answers are right. She laughed. I mean I can’t just write down the answers and get an A; I have to show how I got my answer, but I am so uncertain. She suggested some options for me, especially as someone who has such math anxiety, which is pretty common I notice, but she also told me when she would be available to tutor me privately and my eyes filled up with tears.

I’ve been really weepy for months. I don’t think I’ve ever cried so much. My sister Maria, who is in her third year of med school to become a doctor of Chinese medicine said that the tears mean my spirit is awakening and that I am getting better. I don’t know that I believe that, but I sat beside her with my head in her lap and she ran her fingers through my hair as she talked softly to me. I asked her about love, and what it means and where it goes when that person leaves your life. She talked to me about holding on, and learning to let go, and I admitted that I’d never been too good at the letting go part.

This must read like a maniac wrote it and I think I should just post it because it has been my goal to say hey, I’m still standing, for quite some time. I hope this finds you all well.

It does get better, even if it’s just the tiniest little bit. You will smile again. I have been down so far I thought the strongest vacuum cleaner on earth could never suck me out of that crevice. I’ve been so afraid that I couldn’t leave the house to get the mail and I’ve managed to take trips by airplane since then. I’ve felt physical pain of the sort that a bullet to the head would have been a kindness, and I can walk now and I have resumed my daily activities.


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