Most everyone has heard the story of The Velveteen Rabbit who is given to a young boy and loved so much that he became real. As a child, this story was my favorite and, when I was four, my godmother bought a kit and handmade my very own Velveteen Rabbit. In 24 years, that rabbit has followed me everywhere.
I was born and raised in Warsaw, Indiana, and at the age of seven, my Velveteen Rabbit and I moved to Nevada with my mom and step-dad. We moved three times in those two years before coming back home. Through the years and through the moves, my rabbit became worn, as did I. I was the ugly duckling with the Coke bottle glasses in school. I had very few friends, if any, and my childhood was very lonely. I longed for a happier life, like the rabbit in the story longed to be real and fit in with the other rabbits.
Years passed and I had my daughter high school. As I became a mother, the rabbit found a home on my dresser. Always in view, watching and listening, ready for me to hold it as I cried. I have felt very alone most of my life, as if I am on the outside looking in. I was diagnosed with depression at twelve, but medication and therapy were not enough to make the pain and loneliness go away. Despite my accomplishments, I always question whether anything I do will ever be good enough. I wonder if I will ever feel whole and if I will ever feel real.
Today, the rabbit is very much tattered and torn. His ear is ripped, he is losing stitches on his paws, and his fur is dull and shabby. I, too, am very tattered and torn. At the young age of 28, I have been married twice and have five children. I have seen friends die, and had friends lie. I struggle to stay afloat mentally, as I battle with my depression often, sometimes daily.
Unlike the rabbit in the story though, while I want to feel real, I do not wish to be repaired and made new again. I feel that all of my life experiences, whether good or bad, have been the things that make me who I am. Without them, I do not know that I would be as strong and independent, or whether or not I would have the will to succeed as I have in the last year. I do not wish that it had all been different, that I had been awarded some of the luxuries others have. I want my fur to be dull and shabby, showing that I have survived all the torment of my life, much like a war hero who proudly displays his battle scars. When I was shiny and new, I was too ignorant of the ways of the world and did not understand no matter what I did, there would be a consequence for every action. I feel much wiser now, and able to suitably deal with the struggles of life.
I hope to have my Velveteen Rabbit the rest of my life. Whether he is packed up in a box in the closet, or sitting on my dresser, he has earned his rips and stains. He will always be a reminder to me of all the challengers and hurdles I have overcome to be here today. Just because we are tired and worn does not mean that we must give up the fight to make it through another day.