Every now and then a picture will show up in my memories of a younger, thinner, more beautiful.. and immensely quieter and lonelier version of me. She wears the same smile as I do now but back then the smile rarely made it down to her heart. And the laughs most definitely didn’t find their way down to her belly.
But she kept going. Always telling herself there had to be a reason for it all. Always telling others that she was perfectly content, and the best was yet to come. All while secretly wishing on the inside that whatever that best was, it would reveal itself before she gave up on believing.
She came close to giving up a few times. And then something would re-ignite that spark of hope. Even in the darkest of days, that spark seemed to keep going, sometimes growing bigger and turning into a beautiful glowing flame…and at other times, dying down to a mere ember.
Throughout it all, she did her best to just “be happy”. To just fit in. To just be what everyone expected of her. And the one thing she never really did? Just be herself.
I have a lot of compassion for that girl. And it took me until now to fully appreciate just how hard that must have been for her, to always try to fit into a mold that was cast in a shape and form that never really resonated with her. It also took me until now to understand why she felt the need to hide the truth - and the pain - beneath that smile. I never gave her the freedom to feel safe, loved or enough within herself. And for that, I owe her an apology.
She deserved better from me. Some days she still does.
But luckily it’s never too late to redeem ourselves. It’s also never too late to treat ourselves with the love and kindness we deserve and always have deserved. Love really is a two way street. But the road ALWAYS starts with ourselves.
So to the girl that shows up in those pictures every now and then…I’m sorry if I ever made you feel less valuable, less worthy, less beautiful or less brilliant than you actually were. Because you were all of that and then some.
I’m also sorry I never truly acknowledged that it was okay for you to feel sad, empty, and even lonely at times. I never meant to force you to ignore those feelings when others told you they weren’t valid..or tell ou that you didn’t have the right to have them.
I’m sorry I criticized you and put you down for your mistakes instead of noticing you were only doing those things because you just wanted to be loved, accepted and fit in. The truth is we all want to be loved, accepted and fit in.
I wish I had known how to guide you better whenever you felt embarrassed, or as if you weren’t enough in some way. And I TRULY wish I had always had your back when others failed you.
But I have your back now.
And WHILE I may not be able to change the past, I can make a promise to you for the future. Going forward, I will watch the way I speak to you and use words of encouragement and support. I will practice the same kindness with you that I do with others. I will remind you of your value as often as I remind others of theirs. I will focus on your strengths not your flaws. And, I will truly do my best to accept and welcome all of you, without judgment.
Your past, present and future self