“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.”
As a child I read the Velveteen Rabbit over and over and continuously got hung up on this quote. I longed to be real, to be loved. I thought that I could will the love through hope and through constantly repeating it. And so, for years I hung on to it. I told myself every time I was moved that love would come and that when it did, I would finally be loved enough to be real. As adoptions started failing I told myself that just like toys it takes time to fall in love.
And then I moved. I came to a new state and fell into the hearts of the only people I knew here. I took off my rose colored glasses and instead of hoping love would come, I tried forcing it. I didn’t want to wait anymore. I wanted so badly to be real because I felt so broken and so damaged.
And then something strange happened. Instead of kicking me out or telling me that I wasn’t worth the effort, the people here pulled me closer. They told me that despite me knowing it I was already loved. Instead of asking me to stop being me, they encouraged me to let every bit of who I am out.
And then something even stranger happened. I started to be real. My Velveteen dream started coming true and I started feeling loved, truly loved. And bit by bit I can feel myself becoming real. It’s forced me to sometimes forget that I come from trauma and that for years I lived in fear of what was to come. Instead, the fear and constant reminders have slowly been replaced with a little bit of authentic laughter. I started longing for connection and became more afraid of people leaving then people coming. I sometimes forget that statistics say I’m supposed to be miserable and I live.
It doesn’t always last, infact often times it’s just mere moments. But there are moments and each moment grows in lenght and authenticity and that gives me hope that one day I will be 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.”