“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 why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who 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.”
~ Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit
Are you just a bit mean to yourself sometimes?
I’m not talking about the sort of mean where you treat yourself in obviously bad ways. I’m talking about that sneaky kind of mean you might not even realise was mean to begin with – the sort of mean where you are just waiting to be different to how you are right now so that you can love yourself a bit more.
Until a few days ago that was me.
It’s a big realisation, to find that part of you is holding their breath, waiting to return to how you were at some time in the past. It’s also kind of funny, because, well… you know! You can’t ever go back. The past no longer exists. All we ever have is the present.
So how have I been doing this? I’ve been expecting my current circumstances to be temporary.
Let me explain this a little better – maybe some of you will even relate.
Here’s me, in early 2005:
Things were going well for me, back then. I had a corporate communications business, but I was also in the thick of things spiritually – doing readings, running workshops, and working from my own offices.
I look at that picture of me, and I still feel her, that younger Nicole, sitting inside me. But I have changed so much since then.
By late 2005 a bacterial infection that almost killed me in 2000 came back. It had been in my brain the first time round. This time it was not just my brain but my heart. I wound up all my businesses, I cancelled all my events, I packed my life in boxes, and I went home with a miserable prognosis. I almost croaked it.
But I didn’t die. I began to stubbornly climb my way back to health. It took a long time. I learned a lot. I was forced to grow. More health problems came and went. It wasn’t easy. Drugs bloated me. Life battered me. Each day I would look in the mirror and barely recognise myself. I used everything I could get my hands on – meditation, diet, herbs, energy medicine, conventional medicine. You name it – I tried it!
Every so often I’d look at this earlier picture of me and think, I’ll get back there soon. I’ll get back to normal. I held that picture in my head and worked towards it.
Then in November 2009 I had a heart attack, brought about by a virus. My heart was vulnerable, after all it had already been through. I was totally floored. But I didn’t die, although I came close. More drugs. Limited exercise. I just couldn’t get back to where I was with any sort of speed.
November 2010 I got a paralysis tick in my ear. It triggered cardiomyopathy. Yeah, yeah – another near-croaking event. I spent months in bed, or with such limited mobility that I might as well have been in bed. I puffed up with fluid. I had a moonman face and a Michelin man body from all the steroids and the weight I gained.
But I stubbornly held that damned 2005 picture of me in my head.
Gotta get back there. Gotta get back to being me.
I’m sorry, but that’s just mean.
Not me comparing myself to a creature made from fat white tyres. What’s mean is me expecting myself to be who I was pre all-this-other-stuff! And the idea that somehow I was less me for looking different to how I did before? Pffffh. That’s just stupid.
So, that picture of me has to come down. It’s not who I am, although I hold her in my heart. I’ve been split open since then, on so many levels. Not just from illness – I’m also changed by the psychic work I do, by the spiritual commitment I make to walk this path. It’s changed me. I’m wiser. I’m softer. I’m much more real.
Finally, I really truly love myself just as I am. I look at my face in the mirror and know that this is me. I can’t ever be that 2005 girl again. I actually don’t want to be. It’s good to stand where I am, and look through these wiser eyes. I had to earn this wisdom, but I’d pay that price again and again to be where I am right now.
It makes me a little sad too. That’s the truth, but it’s not about physical appearance. I was so much more carefree then, so much greener and ignorant of just how big life can be, and how small I am at the face of it all. Banging up against the hard and rough edges of life has taken off a little bit of shiny and replaced it with grit.
This is just a skin suit – this body I’m in, and it’s getting pretty dinged up and battered by Life. But isn’t that kind of the point? I’m a Soul, in a human body that will change and grow and fade and fail. Why be so hung up about the vehicle when I’m here for the journey?
I think scars are like battle wounds – beautiful, in a way. They show what you’ve been through and how strong you are for coming out of it.
~ Demi Lovato
So, this is me, as I am right now. More joyful. More scarred. Stretched bigger.
I don’t need you to love me. I need ME to love me. And I need YOU to love YOU. I’ll take real any day. Real has a beauty to it that takes my breath away.