By Alexandria Pavloski
To my teddy bear,
I feel like I owe you a giant apology for everything.
You’ve been there for my entire life and I know that you’re aware of that. To be quite honest with you though, I’m not entirely sure where you came from. I do know that you’ve always been there though. Even when I didn’t know what to call you. Even when I didn’t want you to be.
I also know that a lot of other people were given something when they were born, it just varies from person to person. And I also know that some people were given nothing. And the people that were given nothing act like having nothing is normal. And they act like if you have something you’re weird. You’re wrong. You’re different and different isn’t okay.
Not all people with nothing are like that though. There are plenty that think people are just people. That if you’re given something at birth, you are no different from someone who wasn’t. That everyone is equal.
I like the second type of person better and I know that you do too. Both types of people exist though and unfortunately, we both just have to deal with it. I’m sorry for that.
I’m sorry for so many things.
I’m sorry I keep you in my closet now. I used to carry you around everywhere with me when I was younger because I didn’t care who saw me with a teddy bear. I never felt like I had to hide you because I never felt like having you was wrong. I showed you to everyone simply because I thought that there was no good reason for me not to. I showed you to my mom, who thought I was being silly. I showed you to my godmother, who made fun of me for having you. I showed you to my father, who never wanted to acknowledge you. I never felt like I had to hide you until other people made it seem like you weren’t valid. Because I was just a kid and what did I know about teddy bears anyway.
I started to leave you in my room and I would only pay attention to you there. I would talk to you and tell you stories. I would tell you about the new friends I made. About the kid in class that laughed at everything. About the neighbor who gave me popsicles when I went to her house. About the red Hot Wheels truck I finally convinced my mom to buy me.
I told you things I would never tell anybody else.
I would tell you about the things I was scared of. About how I hated moths. About how the kid in school laughed at me when I fell. About how my neighbor whispered about me to my parents. About the look on my mom’s face when she bought me that truck.
I’m sorry I keep you in my closet now. I just felt like I had to keep pushing you further back until people couldn’t see you at all. I thought that maybe if I couldn’t see you, I could get myself to believe that you didn’t exist. And if I could get myself to believe that you didn’t exist, I could get myself to believe that I was born with nothing and I could make other people believe that too. And I could get them to see that I was normal. And I could get them to see that I was human too.
But it didn’t work. I always thought about you. I always knew you were there. You were always burning in the back of my head, even when I didn’t have a name for you. Even when I didn’t know what to call you. Even when I didn’t want you to be.
It got to a point where you just felt like a gigantic weight on me because all I wanted to do was carry you around and not care who saw, but I was a coward and I kept you hidden and I’m so incredibly sorry for that.
And I know that there are people who carry around what they were born with and that some of them do it proudly. And I know that I envy them.
Do you remember that one friend that I told you about? Ed? They kept their toy train hidden for a long time. People found out about it though. They found out before Ed even told them. They bullied him. They degraded him. Called him names. Called him “it”. Made it like he was less of a human.
He pushed through it though and he kept on with his life and he made the decisions to be the person he always wanted to be. He ignored the hate and stuck up for himself. I want to be like him but it’s just so hard for me to do.
My other friend Spencer, you remember me telling you about Spencer right? Well anyway, they had a stuffed squid. I know because they felt like they could trust me enough to show me. Because you can’t just let people know about these things unless you really trust them. At least, not at first. Anyway, they kept it hidden from their parents for so long that their parents forgot about it. It hurt them, much like it hurts me, to keep their toy hidden so they showed it to their parents again. But it didn’t go well and it didn’t help their pain and they ended up in the hospital. Luckily they’re still here.
And you know, I found this really interesting study from the Williams Institute and it’s like three years old but the information is still relatively recent and I think it’s important that you know this because the sad truth is that Spencer is just one of many because 57% of people in their situation do the same thing. And all because of something as simple as a goddamn toy.
I never told you this, but I told my mom about you one day not too far back. She thought I was confused because she didn’t remember me being born with you. She thought I was telling her because I wanted attention. She thought I went to the store and bought you. She thought the only reason I got you was because my friends were buying you too. And I had to get you because I wanted to fit in with them. Because I wanted to belong somewhere. And if I didn’t have the trendy new item, I would never fit in.
I tried to remind her that I carried you around when I was little, before I could even take myself to the store.
She wouldn’t listen and to be quite honest with you, I don’t know if she ever will.
So I’m sorry I keep you in my closet now, but I think you know why I do.
And right now, I’m not only asking you to forgive me, but I’m asking for you to believe me.
Because I really do want to carry you around with me all the time. I don’t want to shove you in people’s faces or exploit you, I just want to have you there and not be ashamed to hold you there with me for the rest of my life.
And maybe one day we can get to that point. I really hope we can.
But until then, you’re just going to have to stay where you are.
And I really hope you can forgive me for that.
Because I honestly don’t know if I’ll ever be able to forgive myself.</p>
Yours, Alex Pavloski