When I was in 7th grade, I remember hearing the song, The Tears of a Clown, by Smokey Robinson, and thinking wow, that sounds familiar. Over all of the years of dealing with my mom’s erratic behaviors caused by her mental illness, I became quite proficient at hiding my sadness by being the jovial, adaptable girl next door type. I internalized all of the chaos around me by focusing on trying to make sure my outward appearance did not betray my deepest emotions. This led to my battle with an eating disorder and a great deal of anxiety that spanned my teen years through my mid-20’s.
My recovery process was not easy because I had to reach out to others and be willing to recognize and accept those parts of myself that did not live up the image I was trying to achieve. Like the story of the Velveteen Rabbit, I have learned to become “real”, and though it isn’t always easy, ultimately it is a much more rewarding way to live my life.
“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