I had the urge to re-read the classic children’s story The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams just recently. This is a long-time favorite of mine, and I have read it more than once over the years—and I still tear up at the end of the story every single time. (It’s out of copyright now, so you can get it for Kindle on Amazon for free now. If you don’t have a Kindle, you can still use the free Kindle app for your computer or mobile device, so there’s no excuse! If you’ve never read it, treat yourself now to this heart-warming story.)
For those of you who have never read the story (or read it so long ago that you have forgotten it), it is the story of a stuffed rabbit toy who is made real at the end of the story from the magic that comes from having been loved so well by a child that his whiskers are worn off, his velveteen hide is bare in patches, and he is rather thoroughly tattered all over. It is the very fact that he has been so loved and played with to have become so tattered and worn that qualifies him to be made into a real bunny at the end of the story.
It turns out that this is a very appropriate time for me to be reading it again.
I obviously don’t qualify as a stuffed toy, much less one that has been that well-loved by a child, but I can relate to the feeling of life having worn me to tatters over the last year or so. As I talked about yesterday, I feel like I have been broken open by the many losses of the last year. While the wearing down has not been nearly as pleasant to undergo as it would have been to be too well-loved, as the velveteen rabbit was, the end result has felt very much the same as he feels as he finds himself discarded.
However, I am increasingly realizing that I am experiencing the sensation of becoming real. I’ve spent so much of my life trying to live for others and trying to be what others have wanted to me that I have been much like a stuffed toy—unable to live the life I was meant to live, sleepwalking through my days in a semi-daze.
This process of being broken open—and of learning to love myself enough in that process to begin to live for me—is producing the necessary magic to finally make me real. I think the being broken open was necessary to break through all my walls and habits and defenses, but that in and of itself would not have been enough. It simply opened the door to give me a fresh chance to evaluate my life. The key was the fact that I am learning to love myself. I am learning to value the real, authentic me. I am beginning to see myself as worthy and special and valuable just as I am. Just like the velveteen rabbit, that is the magic that is making me real. Love, in this case self-love, is always what makes one real.
I am awake to life in a way that I haven’t been in many years. Being real has its own set of challenges—I have to take full responsibility for me, I have to accept life as it is even when it’s not what I wish it was, I have to do the hard work to heal and grow and become my authentic self—but it’s worth it. Becoming real is worth being broken open, it’s worth the challenges of being real, it’s worth every bit of pain and struggle it’s taken to get where I am.
I’m feeling enormously grateful in this moment for the magic and grateful to be becoming really real.
A Note on Comments: A chrysalis is by nature a very fragile place, and it takes a good deal of vulnerability to share this personal journey of transformation so openly. Therefore, I need this to be a safe place for exploration and sharing for me and for my readers. Comments sharing your own journey, even if your experience is different from mine, are always welcome and encouraged. Expressions of support or encouragement are also welcome. Comments that criticize, disparage, correct, or in any way attempt to undermine the validity of another person’s experience or personal insight—or the expression of that experience or insight—are NOT welcome here and will be deleted.