When I was 18, my parents sent me to live with my Okinawan family to rescue my mental health and give me a safe space to heal. I had been spending that year in and out of hospitals for being suicidal. Starting fresh in Okinawa was a hail Mary pass.
My aunt & uncle owned a clothing boutique that I would work in 5 days a week. When I first arrived, she let me pick out whatever clothes I wanted, because I didn’t arrive with much.
For the most part, I was frugal and logical and took only what I needed. Except for one thing. A piece of clothing that was bold, luxurious, above my class, and a few sizes too small.
It was a pair of designer jeans that had leather blocks sewn onto them in an adventurous style. They flared at the bottom and looked like something inspired by the seventies but updated to be slick and chic. Only a person who did not have to worry about things could wear jeans like this, because if you can afford to follow fads, you’re doing ok.
I knew I wouldn’t be able to wear them at that moment. I had lost my chance. The last time I was that thin was a year ago. But in my head, I was convinced I’d lose the weight, and they’d be waiting for me.
These jeans were who I dreamed of being. Everything I wasn’t but believed if I worked hard enough, I could be.
Years passed. I became a mom. My hips widened permanently. I was severely depressed and once again suicidal. But every time I moved into a different phase of my life, I brought these damn pants with me. I believed for over 15 years, someday I can make myself fit that mold. I can change enough to live out that dream.
I am looking at those jeans now.
I moved them to the donate pile in the corner of the house.
I’m going to drop them off at Goodwill tomorrow before I lose my nerve.
I’m a child of trauma. I make symbols out of everything to manifest feelings I can’t handle.
I’m going to cry when I leave this dumb pair of jeans behind like releasing a lion in BORN FREE. But I might also cry because I’m relieved that I finally gave up on an illusion that was hurting me and stopping me from accepting myself.
I’m a pair of plain reliable big booty jeans that will last 30 years. Never quite in style but not completely removed from it either. I’m well worn in, loved, comfortable, and there are a few rips and tears from age. I know exactly who I am in these.
I will never fit those designer pants from being 18 anyway. And while I now do have the confidence to wear whatever the fuck I want, I also have the confidence not to need to prove it.
I know it’s just a pair of 16 year old jeans. I know it’s ludicrous to hang onto a dream so silly, and even more so to think it’s important.
But I’m able to get rid of these jeans tomorrow only because I let go of something bigger in my trauma and heart. The logic I refused to believe in so long; I’m finally comfortable with it being true. I’m just sad I lost so much time wishing I were something I wasn’t ever going to be.
That’s a different kind of grief. But I’m ok. I think I’ll go shopping tomorrow and see what’s out there for me that fits.
To my guys and girls who lost so much time wishing you were something you’re not, I’m sorry. But you’re present now. Let’s go out and live our lives instead of sleeping perchance to dream.