I wrote about the time when I grew the most, and the time that hurt the most.
The essay is sort of long, but I decided to put it up on this blog. You don't have to read it. You're under no obligation to me. But this essay explains where I've been and why I'm me. Maybe you'll see something of yourself in it, too.
*Author's Note: Names are not changed in this essay. Also, it really is truly me at my absolute most vulnerable. I'm sharing it with you all with great apprehension. Please be respectful of what this story means to me.
This Is Making Me Beautiful
The light from the streetlamp glowed through the car window and hit Daniel's glasses, reflecting my own face back at me. He slowly nodded, giving the answer to the question I had just forced out of my throat.
I grimaced. "Get out of my car." My voice sounded like shards of glass.
"Kimberly, I really want to talk about this."
"Get out of my car." I repeated, no less harsh.
As we both climbed out of the car and into the cold December air, I knew what I was going to do. I had received a full education from
romance movies, and I knew what I was expected to do after having just been
dumped. I walked towards Daniel who stood motionless under the streetlamp.
Playing the role of a broken-hearted ex-girlfriend perfectly, I slapped him
straight across his face. I punched his chest. I yelled. I stormed away.
"Kimberly, please." Daniel groaned, picking up his glasses. They had been knocked off when I slapped him and had snapped in half. "There are some things about our relationship that I need to say."
As I heard him, my favorite person to be near, my Daniel, lay out all my flaws, I felt my heart numb as it was coated with bitterness. The words he threw out stuck to its cold exterior. Childish. Needy. Stubborn. Insecure. When I couldn't take the attack any longer, I scrambled into my car and drove away.
During the ride home, the words seeped through my heart's defenses and I finally felt them and all their power. Childish. Needy. Stubborn. Insecure. For eight months I thought I had been doing so well; I had been satisfied with myself. There seemed no reason to change what I was doing or who I was. Someone loved me. I was fine the way I was. However, Daniel's words brought me to the time before that, a time with a different boy.
My romance with Carter had been completely unrequited. It was one of those junior high school loves that fed itself on silly quotes and ridiculous wishes. Most of my emotions during my freshman year were controlled by my communication with Carter. If he said "Nice to see you today, Kim," I took that to mean "I wish I could see you everyday and you make me happier than anything, Kimberly." When he didn't talk to me, I was devastated. Knowing he didn't love me seemed to gnaw at my insides. For a long time, I could not look at myself in any mirror. I was ashamed of who I saw. When I glanced at myself, all that was visible to me was a girl who was unworthy to be wanted. A girl who was childish. Needy. Stubborn. Insecure. When I finally met Daniel, those troubles seemed to fade into the backdrop of my being. I could look at myself in a mirror without cringing. With Daniel, I knew I was loved and that whatever character flaws I had did not change how he felt about me. Obviously I had been wrong to think that. All I had to do to remember this was look where I was right now.
When I finally pulled into my garage after driving home from Daniel's house, I had to will myself to get out of the car. I paused at the house door, knowing what would be behind it. After composing my face, I opened the door and saw, sure enough, my mother sitting at the kitchen counter and waiting for me. I glanced at her concerned eyes for a split second and then I lost it. Before the first sob had fully erupted, she wrapped me in her arms and rested my head on her shoulder.
The crying, blubbering, and gasping went on for quite a while. After I told my mom everything that happened, I whispered "He's so awful."
"No, he's not, Kimberly. You know that." I didn't respond. She knew I understood. "You have to grow differently, that's all. Daniel helped you learn so much, and you can now do it on your own. You don't hate him."
She was right; I didn't hate him. But that didn't make me hurt any less.
After quite a few more tears had escaped, I trudged up to my bedroom. My bed looked so welcoming, I all wanted to do was sleep away my grief. However, I had to do something first.
Remembering my mom's words, I closed my eyes and moved a few steps to the center of my room. Daniel had shown me the sun glowed within my chest, and now I needed to recognize it by myself. I opened my eyes and looked straight into my mirror.
I saw my reflection staring back at me, but I did not flinch away. Her hair was mussed, her cheeks blotchy, and her eyes intensely bloodshot. Still, I did not look away. I liked this girl. I knew she had a good heart. A broken heart, but good as well. Childish. Needy. Stubborn. Insecure. The persistent and puncturing words entered my brain again. I continued looking at the reflection in the mirror. We're going to do this, I thought, We're going to get to know each other, and we're going to like us.
Over the next few months, I practiced looking at that girl in the mirror. Many times Daniel's words would come back and loosen the stitches I was attempting to sew in my healing heart. However, I did not give up. Nothing scared me more than going back to that worthlessness I had felt with Carter. I wrote the same phrase in red pen on the palm of my right hand every day: This Is Making Me Beautiful. On awful days, I would trace over the ink multiple times until I thought I might as well have given myself a permanent tattoo. This Is Making Me Beautiful. This trial is making me beautiful. After a while, I believed it.
My reflection and I became friends, eventually. Looking at her felt as if through a time warp; she was me when I yearned for Carter, she was me when I had Daniel, she was me in the present, and she was all of my potential. Inside of her, she held the pain of a girl who thought she could never be loved, the pride of a girl who thought she didn't need to change, and the hope of a girl who loved herself. This trial really had made me beautiful. I liked who I was; I aimed to become someone even better. Remaining stagnant and relying on someone else to hold me up no longer appealed to me. I was on my way to becoming mature. Independent. Understanding. Confident. Me.