You, My Brown-Eyed Girl.
Brown-eyed girl, you are special. You don’t realize it yet, but you are. You are everything in this world.
I can see you’re not quite there, that point where you believe it, but I can assure you that later, you will.
Hear me, you will believe it.
I can still see you struggling. I watch as you look at yourself through the lens of a critic. It’s what you do. Judging, badgering, and harassing. Your inner self is violent, and you are slinging mud. I see you, forever pinching the excess. Looking at it from the back, the front. A black hole of spiraling fat thoughts that keep you covered from the sun.
And I whispered all the while, Don’t give up. You will find your way past all this, I promise. You will be so much older, yes, it will indeed take an eternity, but you will surely find your way.
Lovely girl, I still see you as a small child. I will always see you this way, alone and lost in the woods. You, the little brown-eyed girl who ran from a wolf.
Can you see? You are her, and she is me.
And I still see you, with your cascading hair and your painted eyes, your lashes laden, heavy, so thick. I watch as you cling to some of those boys, those men who have no filter. They are not kind. They touch you, and rub up against you. They take you down. They wring out your spirit, your essence. They squeeze the youthful dew right out of you. They want and they need, their rushing blood rages.
Taking is what they know. You are a thing that satisfies a craving. And you allow it because you are 12. You are 13. You are 15. You accept their words, their actions, because you want to feel it, love. Your value rests inside their eyes, it is cupped inside their hands. You are so soft, and you let them steal your softness.
Dear one, I whispered all the while, there will come a time when you will rise and defend and stop giving yourself away. Did you hear me then?
Sweet girl, I still see you and what happened, how you coped, your bones protruding.
I see you at that fraternity party, that crazy t-shirt party. They told you to wear a white t-shirt so they could scribble on you with a sharpie. They wrote messages on your back, messages for you to read later, when you took your t-shirt off. Messages like, “I want to fuck you so hard,” and “How many drinks does it take,” and “Grade A Prime.”
Drunken, lustful, messages. Ones that made you feel dirty, but also relieved. Relieved that they wanted to fuck you. Relieved because you read what they wrote on some of the other girls, their messages, “Butter-face,” and “Only if it’s dark,” and “Call the pound.” Those girls would read them later too, and it made you angry and disillusioned, but the whole truth is that you also felt relieved. Yes, you did.
I saw you stumbling around, and I screamed that this very relief is what will keep you sick. It will keep you sick for so many years, I cried. And, I know you did not hear me over those milling voices and that thumping music in that loud, godforsaken house, but I tried.
Long before that though, I still see you running through the yard without a care in the world. Without knowing anything there is to know. For such a brief period of time, you were just another tiny girl in a sundress, with dirty knees and ripe berry summer skin. A girl in the wrong place at the wrong time is where you begin. I tried to reach out and yank you back, but what’s done is done.
I wish you knew in that moment that there would come a time when you would run far enough away from him and your shame, the one who stole your whole life before you barely knew your name. That you would be in your 40’s, but you would finally pick up a bat and smash him over the head. You would climb on top of him, and stomp him right into the ground.
You would process your fears, and you would sit with your pain. And it would be the grandest, hardest thing you ever did, but it would be this, this one epic battle, that would finally set you free. I kept assuring you that like Wonder Woman, the Goddess of Truth, you will jab your sword into the spokes of that heavy, turning wheel, and your train of dirty baggage will come screeching to a halt.
It is a glorious moment when you realize your worth. A moment that forgets and releases, forgives and proclaims. A moment that steels your insides against the bottom-feeders, the takers. A moment that patches you whole. And absolutely everything about you feels clean again.
Brown-eyed girl, I saw you on that frigid night, that night you climbed a steep and spiraling flight of stairs. You peered down at a decision. You craned your neck looking down, and when you closed your eyes, you imagined yourself falling. You watched yourself letting go, crashing and smashing.
You watched yourself disappear, and I watched too, and your thoughts went black, but then something small made you shudder, and you turned.
That was me, that was me, that was me, calling to you back.
That wave of hesitation was a bitty seed of hope, a lifeline rope I threw.
Because hope, child, is always the thing that fights.
I wanted something inside your world to shift. I wanted you to make a space for that hope to go. I knew it would be painful, and way too slow, but I wanted you to feel it on the inside, your dormant power, so that your heart would surely know. Instead of running from wolves who keep you caught in their undertow, I wanted you to see something else, someone else, just waiting for her chance to grow.
I begged you not to give up. And you didn’t.
It was me. And I am you.
We are born to feel beautiful, just as we are, all on your own. In fact, we are magnificent — wings spread, petals popped, reaching, unleashing. And now we are luscious, blooming buds, we are chrysalis emerging, our magical gifts, surging.
Dear one, hold on, I whispered, I screamed. I can still see you!
And I could see you unfold, I could see you unfurl.
Because I’ve been with you all this time; yes, you carried me too.
You… my brown-eyed girl.
Kimberly Valzania practices mindful gratefulness. She is creatively driven to write about and share her personal experience and opinion on weight loss, fitness, life changes, adventures in parenting, day-to-day triumphs (and failures) and the truth-seeking struggle of simply being human. She believes that life is indeed a journey, and that precious moments appear (like magic) when she surrenders to beauty in all forms, and the divine chaos of unpredictable circumstances. She is happily imperfect, and plans to stay that way. Her essays and poetry appear on The Elephant Journal, The Manifest-Station, The Minds Journal, Scary Mommy, and BonBon Break. You can read more at her website.