I recall once I was sitting at a table and suddenly I felt a pit open up inside me, a deep grief for the childhood version of me who wouldn’t recognize me today. I hoped she’d be proud of me, but most importantly I hoped I’d see a twinkle in her eyes when she saw who she’d become. I wanted her to *want* to be me, warts and all. I needed that.
I’ll never be able to get that assurance. Can’t really go back and talk to her now can I?
The thing is, that I’ve had to overcome the last versions of me. I had to overcome what was done to me as a child. I had to overcome my hatred and anger towards me, what people did to my body, what I did to other people, and just all of it. There’s not a single version of me that I look back on that I can remember feeling like, “wow, that was a good person.”
When I think of my childhood, all I feel is hurt and grief and sadness. I didn’t deserve any of that. Not the rape. Not the mental abuse and manipulation. The thing is that when I look back I see a warped, disfigured person who was trying her best to survive in conditions that should have killed her. And she did. She’s *admirable* and sympathetic, but I wouldn’t want to be her. She survived and for that I, and you, owe her everything.
Looking back over all that, I wonder if she had hope for me. I say that, but I don’t wonder. She didn’t have hope for me. She expected me to fail, and she expected you to never exist. She has no concept of me, or you, and she couldn’t.
And at this point in my life, where I’m stepping out of the light to let you take the stage, I want you to know that you’re not like me. You’re not like her. You are the first of us, the only version of me, that any of us could fathom or hope for. You’re everything I’ve spent the last 3 years investing in. You’re my Hail Mary. That’s a lot of pressure to put on you, but you’re *different.*
I want you to know that I love you. I have loved you since the first moment I realized I was going to survive. I have loved you since blurry images of you started popping up in my mind when I looked into the future. I won’t know your face, but I have tried to give you my love in everything I do.
I’m still insecure about my place in your life. Will you remember this part? Will you look back on me and see a good person, or will you see another defect in your past that you need to correct? Healing is bumpy, gosh. I’ve made mistakes. I’ve hurt people. I’ve made promises I didn’t keep. We’ve lost family because of what I’ve done over the last 3 years. I’ve lost friends and alienated people. But damnit, Evey, I tried so hard to be *good.* Really good. Not just for me but for you.
When you wake up from this surgery, I want you to have a past that you can build on, not atone for. From the first moment you popped into my imagination as the *hope* that I might live, I knew that I needed to do the atoning so you could move on.
I hope that I’ll be a version of you that you don’t hide away from your kids. I hope you show them me, and that you’re proud of me. And this is new, too. I hope you don’t hide me from your photo albums. I hope you feel something positive when you look back on the thousands of pictures and videos and happy moments we’ve got.
I’ve never worried about what I was going to think of me before. I never bothered to concern myself with what a corpse at the end of a nightmare might feel about its history. But you’re not a corpse. You’re everything.
And look at the life you have to start. Look where you’re beginning. You will arrive in this world, fresh and new and hurting, reborn in a surgical theater. And you will be surrounded by people who love and care for the *real* you and not a performance you put on for them. You’ve got a path, if you want it. You have relationships and hopes and dreams. You have places to see. You have books to finish and loops to close. I’m not leaving you empty handed.
I imagined I might pick up crochet. That didn’t happen for me, but the needles and the yarn are in your bedroom. Maybe a new life is a good time to pick up a new skill?
And when the world is cruel to you, as it has been to every version of us in the past, you have something that none of us ever had — you have support. You have true love. You have vision. Your father knows *your* name. He knows who you are. And he loves you. You aren’t doing the rest of this alone. Those people out there, the ones who we’ve helped… you’re going to help so many more than I ever could. I can feel it in my bones. They love you, too. You have a future with loving partners who are going to rest your head on their laps and pet your hair while you cry. You are going to make holiday dinners and family traditions.
And if you can ever be arsed to stop being such a perfectionist, maybe you’ll even teach your kids how to crochet.
And I want you to know this, unequivocally, that I am *so* proud of you and I know you will make the right choices for you even if they’re not the ones I can imagine today. Because you’re so much bigger than my imagination. You’re built different than me, literally, and I will never know your face but I know your heart, because I’m leaving you mine to start with.
And I’d like to think that mine isn’t so bad.
When times get rough, and they will, and you have doubt about what you’re doing because you don’t have some transitional checklist to guide you… please just believe me when I say you *are* the stars in that 5 year old girl’s eyes. You’re the stars in mine.
Go be the stars, Evey.