Dear Sylvia,

Last night, I read “Lady Lazarus”  for about the millionth time. Normally the last lines are the ones that dance over and over again in my mind. However, last night, the lines about people coming to view your scares were the lines my mind kept playing back. I think we need to talk about those lines.

Sylvia, I think you and I have always felt the world was always looking at us as if we were circus freaks. We both had that image of being in the main tent with the blinding spot light burning our retinas. We could hear the crunch of the peanuts and we inhaled the stench of popcorn. In the distance we heard the bored babies babbling to their mothers. As the light bore down on us, we heard the inhale of the audience and then the exhale of their “oohs and ahs”. It was painful to be on display, but we did it because we didn’t know of another way to live. We were separated from the “normal” world by a three hundred and sixty degree circle. Just like with any circle, there was no beginning or end to the one that held us in. We just woke up one day and there we were inside the circle with that damn spot light burning our pale skin. We were different. We were abnormal. We were something to be watched and analyzed. People were thrilled they could come so close to our pain and yet be able to walk away from it after they were ushered out of the tent. However, there was never an end to the stream of people coming in to see us. We were never able to stop being viewed.

But Sylvia, today I have a different theory.

It was us alone that put us in that tent. Sure, our childhood was less then perfect. But people didn’t know that until we started pulling ourselves away from things. Because we felt like freaks, we were treated as freaks. We spent our lives looking in the mirror at ourselves wondering how to cover up the blinding cuts and bruises that were visible to no one but us. We told ourselves time and time again that since no one was like us, we needed to separate ourselves from the pact. We ruined our own chances at a normal childhood because we just assumed no one would understand. We thought we were being viewed and judged.

Sylvia, no one judged us. The thoughts we assumed were dancing around in everyone’s minds were not true. No one really saw our flaws. Sure, they saw our fear because we made it so visible. That fear held some people away from us. But then what of the others who dared to face that fear? What did we do to them? We exposed the worst in ourselves and we kept telling people what they should be afraid of. Finally those people either got tired of hearing it or started to believe in those fears we stuck in their heads.

I agree Sylvia, this was no way to live. I understand your pain was too much and you did what you thought was best. But, you weren’t that bad. Those thoughts were in your head and they weren’t the reality.

I am slowly coming out on the other side, Sylvia. I am learning that yes, there are people in the world who will prey on us and use us…those people aren’t the norm. There are people in the world who do like us. They value our life and our love. They deserve our courage and our time. They can understand us without feeling sorrow for us. They don’t want to pity us. They just want to be near us.

While yes, it is too late for you, Sylvia; it is not too late for me. I will pick up where you left off. People aren’t looking at my scares as if I were in a circus; they are looking at them as if to say “thank you for enduring that lesson for me and thank you for being here for me.”

With the utmost respect and love, I close this letter.

Forever your humble disciple,

Michelle

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