by Juliana Winik
It’s interesting I think; how hard this is for me to be compassionate towards you. I think it is because I hate you and I always have. My god, you were never good enough. But look where hating yourself has gotten you in life, no where. It has only caused you and your family great pain. So I will attempt, even if it’s only a poor attempt at trying to be compassionate to you. Here I go, as feeble as this attempt might be, this may be the only thing that will save my life. I WILL die at the hands you hate. And so, I MUST start to chip away at the hate with compassion.
I’m sorry you were never good enough. I’m sorry you saw the world as place where you had to be everything except who you were. Who you were was deplorable and embarrassing and you hung on tight to fragments of the things you admired in others hoping that perhaps one day you would become more like them. You would be accepted, praised, special, and confident. Because, oh my darling, you had no confidence whatsoever! I am so sorry. Everything you did was tainted by the voice in your head telling you how awful you truly were. And if you ever did do anything decently, it was a fluke, or it wasn’t really that good, don’t let yourself be fooled you could always do, be, perform, better. You were mostly just a fraud and people would soon find you out. I’m sorry these hateful words were whispered into your ears and penetrated your fragile heart.
I want you to know it’s okay. It’s okay you are not perfect. It’s okay that your legs don’t straighten, that your butt is big. It’s okay you are not the essence of feminine beauty (that has been so ill constructed by society at the mercy of patriarchy). You are however, a unique being and it’s okay if you are not okay with being just that right now. In time, you will see. Be patient with yourself, my love, for you are fighting a tough battle of wits against an expert trickster.
All the times you were “not quite good enough,” your grade six speech, coming 3rd place in the 100m dash, not getting an award at graduation, not being picked to be in the best dances, not possessing the perfect ballet body, not being as athletic, smart, funny, or talented as your sisters…..I’m sorry. I forgive you. In fact, it’s not your fault. You are worthy. I know you don’t believe it right now, so I will keep reminding you. And remember, you did the best you could.
I forgive you for not being the role model you wanted to be to the young ones who looked up to you. I’m sorry you had to give up a role as a dance teacher that meant so much to you. I am sorry the overwhelming feeling of inadequacy made you hate what you once loved, what once brought you joy. I’m sorry you began to dance with death, instead of for the joy of it.
I am sorry you missed opportunities to travel like you’ve always wanted. To study abroad. To visit your sister in Scotland. To go to concerts. Or even just celebrate your birthday for over a decade. I’m sorry you could not celebrate your life, but rather see it as a day to be feared.
I forgive you for hurting yourself, your family, and others in the wake of this illness. This illness is not your fault. You are sick. You are not a horrible person for being ill. You can’t help how sick you got.
I forgive you for dropping out of school. I forgive you for not graduating on time. I forgive you for not being too sick to finish school like you wanted to.
I forgive you for not being able to be socially capable, for missing out on events, parties, opportunities because of fear of socializing. I’m sorry you always feel so awkward in those situations.
I am sorry you are not who you want to be yet. And it’s okay, you are still figuring it out! It’s okay you do not like yourself today, there is always tomorrow.
I know you are still shackled by the chains of “not enough.” So all I can say to you now is……
Never stop fighting for your freedom.