I’m really glad we are friends again, because I missed having your strong, confident, loving ways in my life. Remember when we were little and you were convinced we were flying? We were jumping on my bed, and when I said, “We’re not flying, we’re just jumping…” you explained that we just needed more practice, that our feet were leaving the ground and we spent time in the air, we just haven’t perfected our technique yet. It’s too bad mom made us stop, I really think we could have perfected that technique….
There was something about you that was so sure, so confident, so excited to be yourself. Remember in first grade when that one girl would always get the pretty skirt during dress up time, and we were left with the ugly skirts to wear? How were we supposed to be the princess with the ugly skirt? We only got to be the servants. But then one day you stood up for us servants. You declared that we all should get a chance to be the princess! I don’t remember if it worked…but it doesn’t really matter, because what you did stayed with me for the rest of my life. You stood up for yourself, for me, for the underdog. When I wasn’t sure if I was worthy of the skirt, you declared that each one of us was worthy. How did you know? What made you so confident? How did you embody those traits so early on in life?
I loved your imagination. We would spend hours “crushing corn” on the farm with my brothers. Of course “crushing corn” meant climbing to the top bunk of my brother’s bed and then falling off the railing onto the lower, perpendicular bunk, and “crushing the corn” with our backs. We would perform operations on my stuffed animals and dolls. We were teachers. We were navy seals. We were mermaids. We were contestants on Nickelodeon’s GUTS! With you, nearly anything was possible.
Remember how you used to wet your bed? I’m not saying that while pointing my finger and laughing. I bring that up because you had to wear pull-ups to bed, something that seemingly would cause shame and embarrassment, but instead you somehow made others jealous of the fact that you got to wear pull-ups to bed. You would go to sleepovers and the other girls would want to wear them too. How did you do that?!
I loved how you were never scared to get dirty. It didn’t matter if you were wearing your Sunday best or sweatpants with holes in them, if there was a game of tag in a mud pit you were in! Even when your mom tried to get you to buy nicer clothes in high school you didn’t budge. You liked jeans, chucks, and a t-shirt from a punk concert. You made necklaces out of guitar picks and wore skateboard bearings as rings from your boyfriend’s old skateboard. You were so different and cool.
I remember how smart you were. You always did so well in school. You always read all the directions twice, so in 3rd grade when our teacher handed out a worksheet with a dozen math problems on it, you were the only one who actually followed the directions: “Circle all the subtraction problems. Put a purple square around the addition problems. Draw a picture of a house on the bottom of your paper. Do not answer the math problems. Turn the sheet into your teacher.” Despite the looks you received from the other kids your confidence in your ability to understand directions did not falter. And this confidence in your academics followed you all the way into college where you graduated Suma Cum Laude with a 3.9 GPA!
Remember when you decided you were going to qualify for the World Championships of Irish Dance? You had only been dancing for a year! But sure enough, 4 years later you qualified, and you competed in the Worlds, and then you did it again the next year! That was so cool! I was so proud of you.
So, you can imagine my shock, when one day you said, “you’ve gotten a little chubby, and I’m embarrassed to be seen with you.” You? Embarrassed? The girl who could make pull-ups enviable? Surely, if you could make wetting the bed a covetable dysfunction, you could handle being seen with a chubber. And I wasn’t even that chubby, I just put on a little extra weight.
I remember the moment we stopped being friends. It was the day my other friend booted me out of her wedding party because I didn’t have “the right body type for the bridesmaid dress.” And you agreed with her! And when her wedding photos came out you sat there and listed all the flaws in my body that would have been exaggerated because of the thin, pale-pink, fabric. You, the girl who told me I was worthy of the pretty dress-up skirt back in 1st grade, was now telling me I wasn’t worthy of being a bridesmaid for one of my best friends simply because I was curvy? I didn’t understand, what did I do to make you change your mind about me?
We weren’t friends anymore, but you would show up every now and then, and every time I was left feeling downcast and worthless. You even started to tell me that you were surprised my husband didn’t leave me already. When I couldn’t get a teaching job your reasoning was because I wasn’t good enough to be a teacher. When I struggled to get pregnant you had a field day; you told me it was because I was too fat, then you told me God was punishing me for my past, then you told me I wasn’t worthy of motherhood, then you would point out all the people more worthy of motherhood than me. Gosh, I’m just going to say it, you were a huge bitch. Remember when I had my emotional breakdown? I was having panic attacks for hours at a time and you would show up and tell me to kill myself. You would convince me the world was better off without me. You would go over how worthless I had become, and how lazy, ugly, and dumb I had become.
So, why am I willing to be friends with you again? Because, that’s not the person you were created to be and you are finally seeing that. You are remembering the confident, loving, and trusting person that God created you to be. Instead of the fearful person who would be embarrassed by being seen with a muffin top. I get it, I really do. I get being scared of what others may think of you. But didn’t we have way more fun when we weren’t bound by the thoughts of others? You taught me to fly! You taught me to stand up for myself. You taught me to be confident in my abilities and to enjoy my quirks. When an old pair of underwear fell out of the bottom of my jeans in the middle of the school hallway, you kicked it away, and we ran down the hallway laughing. I’m starting to see that version of you again. I love that version of you. I want to be friends with you, because despite your mistakes, you make me…well, me. I forgive you, it wasn’t okay what you did, and you better never do it again, but I forgive you. And guess what? I’m stronger now. When you get out of line, don’t be surprised when I approach you and say, “get behind me Satan!” or “in the name of Jesus Christ I renounce your lies!” because I know I’m worth fighting for. Every part of me is worth fighting for, even you…my dear mind. You are worth fighting for. I love you and I’m here for you. You can be transformed, I know it. I am already seeing how God is renewing you.
I recently wrote a similar letter to a real friend of mine. It was very therapeutic, I had been holding on to some hurts she had caused for a very long time and I was struggling to forgive her. But as I wrote the letter I started to realize that everything she said to me, “You don’t have the right body type…” I was also saying to myself! I agreed with everything she said! I supported her claims against myself. Writing the letter to her (that I was never going to send) helped me to see how desperately I needed to make amends with myself and then forgive myself for what I had done. It’s amazing, because in the process of forgiving myself I have been able to forgive her as well. God is so cool!