Written by Roconia Price for YettiSays Self-Love Month | “To The Girl” post series
You are shocked and sad, angry and relieved, uncertain and resolute all at once when you get the call. Case, fun-loving cousin, mother of your goddaughter, is dead. You are sick from the wheel of emotions. Shocked. Sad. Angry. Relieved. Resolute. Shocked. Sad. Angry. Relieved. Resolute.
You land on furious. Because once again Case has uprooted the lives of everyone around her, leaving chaos in her wake. She is — was– one of those people: the type of people who live fast and die young and get to be remembered as funny, vibrant, and the life of the party. The type of people who blaze through life, setting everything on fire, and then burn out. The type of people who never have to inhale the smoke or sort through the ash of the fires they set. People like you spend their lives cleaning up the messes of people like her.
But this is not about her. This is about you.
It was great in the beginning. You spent most of your free time at Case’s house. There were Friday Fun nights, and Big Brother marathons, and sleepovers for the sake of sleeping over. It took about six years for addiction to start looking for her again. And every time you heard a story of a DUI or a hospital visit, every time you picked up her children from some obscure place, every time you “saved the day,” you judged harder and harder. You cycled tirelessly through anger, love, and exhaustion.
On her last night on earth, Case wrecked her car with your goddaughter in the backseat. You were furious. You agreed when someone said that the children would be safer without her.
You’d hate yourself for that if it weren’t for you last day together, Christmas Eve. You stopped by just like old times. You both helped decorate cookies with the kids. She made a fire in the living room. She flashed her conspiratorial grin, as she offered you warm sushi. You sang and danced and laughed until it was almost time for Santa to come.
Six days later, when Case succumbs to her demons, you find comfort in both Christmas Eve, and in your last exchange the day before she died. You think she’s lying again, but you don’t care. And when she says she loves you, you let your last words to her be “I love you, too.”
For that, young self, I am proud. Though you can be unforgiving, you always search for those little cracks of love in your fault-finding facade. Keep letting your heart override your head in these situations.
Because here’s the thing. You don’t truly hold any disapproval for Case, or anyone else. The real contempt you hold is for yourself. You judge from a place of insecurity, according to your own soft spots, the places where you feel the weakest.
I’m going to cut you a little deeper here, because you have this issue with so many imperfect people. Disclaimer: we’re all imperfect. So I’m not talking about the messy-bun, always-late people, or the crooked-teeth-but-I-love-my smile folk. But real live imperfect people: the addicts, the alcoholics, the abusive mothers, the deadbeat parents, the narcissists. These people live like they deserve bottomless forgiveness, innumerable chances, immeasurable love. No matter how many times people like them mess up, they come back, baring their shame, expecting forgiveness, anticipating a clean slate from the world. This is something you’ve never allowed yourself to do. You get disgusted with people who make mistakes loudly because you wrap yours in shame, hiding them away, letting them rot you from the inside out. So you judge them, condemning you both, declaring that all of you deserve less.
You’ve done well with Case, but I want you to keep it up. Just when you think you’re above someone else, don’t look down. Look within. Don’t let being judgemental and condemning get in the way of love. Be it love for a friend, or a family member, or, most importantly for yourself.
The remedy is always love. It always will be. Extending your arms, reaching out, loving people is a part of loving yourself. If you haven’t mastered the art of leveling, of loving all types of people, you will never be enough. Love will make you better. And that all-encompassing love will make you enough.