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In thinking on how best to write a letter to myself, ten years in the past, I had to dive deep into my memory and try to recall where I was in my life so many years ago. Several things came to mind, over time, as I reflected back on that part of my life. The one thing that stood out over everything, however, was my desire to feel beautiful. To feel beautiful, wanted, and loved. Not atypical things for a teenage girl to feel, but perhaps I felt those things stronger than most. And so, my letter:
Dear past Kristen,
It has taken me a while to get here, but I am now ready to share with you some of what has been my story. I hope your journey is not too painful, but with my words you may
find some comfort that you are not alone. Here goes…….
I can see you, in the morning getting ready for school. I am watching you analyze everything from your hair to your body, and cringing at the image that reflects back at you. I can remember those days, at 16… staring at the mirror and thinking; “if only my hair were less frizzy…” “if only I was thinner…” “if only my teeth were perfect...” “if only I had those things, then I could feel beautiful.”
From ten years in the future I can tell you that your hair is going to lose that unruly frizz that haunted your teenage years. You will struggle with your desire to be thin, and take drastic steps to try and achieve it. But one day, you will let it go and learn to love your body shape as it is. You will lose the braces and retainers you have been wearing since you were a child, and your smile will soon be bright and contagious.
But there is something much bigger than hair and teeth that is about to change
what you think is beautiful.
For so long, to you beauty meant conforming to the outer appearance of those
women you saw on television and in magazines. You’ll long for their long thin legs, perfect eye make-up, and flawless skin. But soon their outer appearance will mean nothing to you. Beauty will begin to take a different shape in your mind. Rather than pining after their physical attributes, instead you will pine after what all of them take for granted; the very thing that makes them female. While most teenage girls will feel a pang of jealousy at a girl’s incredible new outfit, you will feel it when you catch a glimpse of a tampon in her purse. And when your friends casually discuss their future dream of husbands and children, your heart will fill with despair. Listening to girls discuss their sexual experiences, you’ll be left wondering if you will ever have that typical human experience.
Yes, your idea of beauty is about to shift.
You will look at all the girls around you and think of their beauty not in how
they look, but in how they are all gloriously normal. A normal female experience will translate directly back as beauty in your mind. And a normal female experience is something you will never have. I can see you again, standing in front of the mirror. You are no longer looking at your hair, but deeper inside yourself. I can see in your eyes, that in the instant you received your MRKH diagnosis you feel that beauty is something you will never obtain.
That you are unfit and unworthy of love.
That while you may look pretty on the outside, inside you are wretched and broken.
I wish I was there with you now, to hold your hand, and tell you that everything you are thinking of beauty and femininity is a lie.
You will run.
You will hide.You will do your best to conceal the negative emotions that run through your head, and how it makes you view yourself in a negative light.
You will attempt to find ways to forget.
You will become destructive, angry, and lost.
And after all that, you will rise up.
You will spread your wings and fly.
From the ashes of the angry fire that burned inside you will arise a strong,independent woman. A woman who has learned to see beauty not in appearance, but in heart. The jealousy that once clouded your vision will be replaced with an attitude of pure acceptance. That feeling of unworthiness will be replaced by a feeling of self-love. And yes, you will feel beautiful.
The sad little girl that once hid everything that made her unique will one day
shout it out for the world to hear. Your future will hold very little shame, resentment, or anger. The very things that cloud your mind now. Your future is bright, and continuing to get brighter. You will even learn to cherish these dark days and dark emotions you’re
beginning to experience, because without them you wouldn’t feel so passionate
about helping others, and compassionate to their plight. Know this: the one thing that you couldn’t speak of without tearing up will be the very thing that you stand confidently in front of hundreds of people and claim.
For now, know that you have always been beautiful. Nothing that has happened or will happen will diminish the beauty of your most important possession: your soul.
...... With Love,
Your sister, Kristen