Hurt smile and crooked teeth. At the tender
Hurt first came to me with a boxy smile and crooked teeth. At the tender age of eight, she was young. Too young. I could’ve helped her, but I didn’t know how to. Her elder sister was in the Gifted Education Programme and has won many gold medals in Math and Science Olympiads. Hence, she was heavily pressured by her parents to perform as well, or even better than her outstanding sister. At times, she didn’t feel loved.Her sister’s gold medals were strangling her, robbing her of her ability to love herself. She knew that even if she could peel back the layers of her guarded heart, dig into its depth and pull out feelings made tangible, she would still be the second choice. She told me she spent hours sitting on her windowsill, working up the courage to jump. She didn’t dare to. A sprig of baby’s breath grows in between her lungs waiting for the right time to bloom. She may not be healed with bandages but someone can give her reasons to exist. I was too young to know. I would’ve told her to love herself.Pain came in the form of a sweet voice and takeaway food boxes. She came to school with baggy jackets and slashed wrists. Blue eyes may have held the extent of the Pacific, but her dark ones held the magnitude of a black hole. Her eyes carry a weight too heavy for the oceans to bear. Her mother was abusive and she self-harmed. She lays out her change and buys a box of bandages. She knows it’s no open heart surgery to cut out her wounded feelings but it’s better than everyone’s feeble efforts at sewing the broken pieces of her heart back together and it’s useless leaving her hanging by a thread. Even if it scars by accident, someone has to try to be the bandage that she yearns for. I should’ve known she needed my help. I would’ve told her to love herself.I’ve learnt that before you love others, you’ve got to love yourself first. It is crucial to recognise your value and do things for your mental, emotional and spiritual health first before you open up your heart to love others. I want to live a life in which I can forgive myself. I now think of life as a correction tape, no matter how I try to conceal the ugly truth, the traces of what used to be my mistake is left behind. Guilt is toxic — it relives mistakes over and over again, so I believe in the saying: Love yourself, forgive yourself.