I know I have alluded to this multiple times via Facebook posts, but I think I value myself enough that I deserve and entire post dedicated to this. I at least owe it to myself. Not just myself, my 8 year old to about 29 year old self.
I know I am not unique. I know I am not the first person who had difficult teenage through twenty-somethings. I also know I am not the first person who was his or her own worse enemy--at times. I think letter format, as someone who loves hand-written notes and cards, makes sense. Granted this isn't hand-written, but we will go with a letter theme to make it a bit more genuine.
August 6, 2013
As your thirty-fourth birthday quickly approaches, I wanted to take the time to write a letter of apology. It may seem like odd timing, as to the outsiders, things probably didn't appear to be so bad. Life has been pretty good to us and we have always been grateful for family, friends and experiences. We have always been pretty good about "doing well" overall. Not that there were not struggles and challenges and not that we didn't work hard, but life has been pretty good to us.
Knowing things are good and have been good for awhile, why am I apologizing, you may ask? Well, I am apologizing for always being the first to call you ugly. I am apologizing for always being the first person to call you fat. I apologize for always doubting you. I apologize for always putting us last. I apologize for always talking behind your back.
It makes me sad to know that I spent so much time being your enemy. It makes me embarrassed to know I often set us up for failure because I was too scared to shine. I was fearful that you didn't deserve to be happy. I caused you to make compulsive and impulsive decisions out of hurt, anger and embarrassment that only ended up hurting us. I had so little confidence in you that I often allowed us to be part of situations where you were put down or made fun of.
I was always the first person to make jokes about you, I was always the first person to undersell you, your abilities and your strengths. I would make light of any and all your accomplishments. When it came to your family and friends, I was the person who told you Katey was better. I was the person that told you that everyone liked Katey better. I was the person that spent way too many years comparing you to your sister, which caused nothing but misery, depression and never feeling good enough.
When I wasn't comparing you to Katey, I was comparing you to your friends. I was the one that showed you all your faults and made you believe that these superficial differences made you less than. Made you not good enough and made you something not worthy of love and respect.
I was the one who made you believe that people would only like you if you always let them get their way. I was the one who made you believe that you couldn't speak up for yourself because if you did someone would make fun of you and not be your friend.
Oh, sweet, dear, kind-hearted Patty...I am so sorry. I know your tender heart because I am you. I know your soul first-hand as we walk this world together. I know the amount of love you have for this world and all in it, as I have had had the pleasure of knowing you for nearly 34 years now. I am so sorry I have treated everyone else better than I have treated you. I am sorry that I didn't return the love you have for everything in this beautiful world back to you.
I am sorry I took away so many years of your childhood because I was embarrassed by you. I was embarrassed by your stomach, your legs and your entire body. I couldn't find the beauty. I couldn't see past the ugly feelings I had towards you. As a little kid, I can remember being on the beach and worrying about what we looked like in a bathing suit. I can remember being 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, heck up until 25 or so always wearing a shirt over our bathing suit. Always being embarrassed by our body. I told you lies and told you to cover yourself up. I made us embarrassed to play in the sand because I was fearful what others may say to us. What meanness could come out of others' mouths? What I didn't realize until now is more meanness than I could ever imagine was coming out of my mouth towards you for all these years. What I was most fearful of, I was doing to you.
I have no doubt I thought that my picking on your first would somehow make any possible future put-downs easier to handle. Perhaps it would be less painful coming from me, vs. coming from someone else. In the end, I think I did nothing but cause many years of hurt and many years of thinking I was just not good enough and not beautiful.
We were never a small person and probably never will be a small person. We are overweight, we have rolls. We have no chest, we have ribs that stick out further than our boobs. We have a nose that gets huge when we smile. We have a crooked smile. We have cellulite, we have a hugely large back. While all of this makes up who we are physically, it is not who we are. More importantly it also doesn't make us any less worthy of love or any less possible for people to find beauty in us.
We still have a lot to work on, Patty. We still have so much to learn and a lot of growing to do. We will, I am sure, continue to falter and I am sure I will continue to put you down from time to time. I am hopeful, however, that I am now more aware of my role in our life. I should be your biggest cheerleader. I should be your number one fan. I should love you more than anyone else loves you.
The older I get the more encompassing my definition of "beauty" has gotten. The best thing I ever decided to do for us is to widen our definition of beautiful. As I look around the world and as I walk around the city, I make it a goal, daily, to find the beauty in each person I come across. To remember that "beauty" is so much more than skin deep. Beauty is not just what someone looks like. Beauty makes up one's soul. It is watching a mother or a father with their child and seeing their beauty just radiate out of them. It is watching someone give up their seat on the subway for someone and recognizing the beauty in that thoughtfulness. It is watching two friends, two siblings or a couple and seeing how they treat each other.
It is finding beauty in relationships. It is finding beauty in love. It is finding beauty in our daily interactions with one another. It is finding beauty in the imperfections. I can only hope that if and when children find their way into our life that we will be better at leading by example. That we will teach them this new definition of beauty I have found. I want us to be at peace with our self before children make their way into our life.
I am sorry, Patty. I really am. I am just hopeful that moving forward we can be positive role models in others' lives. That we can be the first to compliment, the first to show love and aware of what we say about us and to us, daily. I know it will be far from perfect. But, again, life isn't perfect, we as humans are not perfect. Find beauty in the imperfections.
The best thing I can do for myself is to continue to find beauty in this world. To share this definition with anyone that will listen. This world is a beautiful place. And in case you haven't heard it recently, to anyone else reading this letter, YOU are BEAUTIFUL! You are special!
Love you more,