Giving Her a Voice

by Simone on June 20, 2012

The following excerpt is from an email I received from a fabulous woman I know that touched me deeply (shared with her permission.)

This fabulous woman – I’ll call her Sonja – originally wrote this passage in response to a dear friend of hers whose child was gaining ‘too much’ weight.  Sonja’s friend is sincerely concerned for her child and believes she is doing what’s best for her by focusing on helping her to lose weight.   Sonja felt all the emotions of her young self well-up in her as she remembered being a young child whose well-meaning family tried to help her lose weight.  She wrote a heartfelt email to her friend and shared with her what kind of help her 12-year old self truly longed for:

My 12-year-old self would have wanted you to look at me and tell me not to give a shit what society tells me I should look like… because becoming the best person I can be…whatever that may look like… is the most important thing.

I would want you to look at me and tell me that you have the same amount of love for me whether I’m my size now… or whether I’m 60 pounds lighter or 60 pounds heavier.

I’d want you to tell me to follow my heart, and to start doing things that really make me feel good… and to trust that I know myself enough to figure out what that may be.

I’d want you to say to me that even though it may be scary, in a world where all people care about is what others think about themselves… that the most important thing is to love and accept yourself, unconditionally… exactly as you are.

And that it will be hard to feel this way, because sometimes you’ll feel totally alone, and it takes work to remind yourself how awesome you are, when everyone else is either bullying themselves or bullying others. But if you stick with it, eventually the people around you will start to learn to love themselves too…

I have no idea what kind of an impact this email had on Sonja’s friend – whether or not she was able to really get this plea to reach out to her daughter in a very different way.  The reason I chose to share this email here was because of the impact it had on me.  I read these words and it felt as though my 12 year old self was being given a voice.  This was exactly what that younger version of me longed for – but didn’t know how to put into words.  I desperately wanted to know I was okay just as I was – no matter how big I believed I was, no matter how awkward I felt, no matter how fearful I was, no matter if I screwed up or got it wrong…

I read Sonja’s words and realized that even though I left 12 behind a long time ago, I still – at times – feel that same longing to be told that I am enough – just exactly as I am.  And today, what I know for sure, is that the person I long to hear this message from the most is me.

Thank you Sonja for giving my 12 year old self a voice!

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Gail Kenny June 21, 2012 at 4:31 pm

Thank you, Simone! I have gained a little weight in my post-menopausal years and as I tried on dresses a couple of days ago I was very aware of my stomach pouching and my self judgement and discomfort. If only we could live without the harsh self-criticism about the way we look making us feel less worthy we would all be so much happier!

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Simone June 21, 2012 at 6:25 pm

I think we can live without this self judgment and discomfort, Gail. I truly believe it’s possible, but I think it takes practice. For whatever reason, we have not learned how to be compassionate with ourselves, but I believe this can be unlearned, and this inspires me! Those moments of self judgment are the doorway in… Thanks for you comment Gail!

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Anita Sakayi'kn June 21, 2012 at 4:58 pm

Thank you for sharing. Struggling with sel,f esteem has been an issue with me for years and I wish someone had written this to me at 12!

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Simone June 21, 2012 at 6:28 pm

You’re welcome, Anita. I was so blown away by the eloquence of what Sonja wrote – I just had to share it. What I love about becoming aware of what my younger self needed to hear is that I can give that to her now. It’s not too late!

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Karen June 22, 2012 at 1:02 pm

This is so special, Simone! And it caught me just at the right time – I’ve been finding myself looking at my sons – both around 12yrs old, and trying to think of positive ways to get them to eat healthier and be more active, because they are both not as trim as I think they ought to be at this age – OMW, did I need to be made aware of that, or what? So, thanks for the reminder, that just as I’m learning to be less judgemental about myself, I really need to do the same for them, because that concern will not be a positive thing in their lives. Realising that I then immediately found myself thinking more along the lines of “how can I make healthy eating more fun and tasty – for us all; and how can I build more activity into our lives so that the aim is fun, not punishment”…..different perspective, way less judgement = a work in progress!

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Simone June 25, 2012 at 6:56 pm

Wonderful Karen! So glad this caught you at the right time in your life. Thanks for the comment!

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