“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”
“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.”
An old friend of mine posted this quote from The Velveteen Rabbit the other day. Isn’t it beautiful? Here is the link if you’d like the re-read the rest of it and revisit childhood.
(Warning: this borders on emo) It’s amazing how similar I feel some days here. Worn out and beat up and shabby and loved but mostly real. Do we have to become really, really broken to grow? Maybe not, but I feel like I have grown exponentially more than if I had stayed in the states. I am definitely not the same person who left crying her eyes out 14 months ago. I think I am a more humble, sometimes harder, always more flexible person than I was, and I understand more of what I need to stay sane and what I want. Thank goodness. Being nice all the time is exhausting. I’m enjoying nicole version 2.0 with an edge & backbone.