My fingers were trembling as I texted you three years ago. The decision to give away my secret after years of silence was terrifying. It was the most nerve wrecking thing to do but I knew I had to … for myself, so I typed,
“Hey Claire! I’ll see you at 4 pm in front of Women LEAD Nepal office gate for the interview”.
I stopped typing and the option to choose silence over voice seemed better, yet it would mean living with guilt. With a long breath, racing heart, trembling fingers and a very weak determination to end the hurt, I added,
“Oh, and I have to tell you something important.”
I closed my eyes and pressed sent.
I could hear the pounding of my heart and feel it kicking more pace until five minutes later, you replied, “Okay Reeti. See you there.”
I spent the rest of the day debating whether to tell you about my story or not. It was a difficult decision and I cursed myself for being stupid to take the decision of giving it away to a person with whom I’d met only about a week ago. I was in the Women LEAD 2014 program and I didn’t know anything about you apart from little information about Women LEAD Nepal that I had researched to interview you as the co-founder of the organization. It was my first interview as a reporter for my high school assignment.
I didn’t know why I chose you to confess everything because as an introvert it takes some time for me to trust people. And there I was, ready to give away a part of my life which was unknown to any living being apart from myself to a person whom I’d met a week ago. You were an enigma to me like your ocean blue eyes and curly blond hair.
It was 3:30 pm and I was all ready to leave for Women LEAD with my father. I was terrified for the post-interview conversation and still was doubting my decision. I met up with you at 4:05 pm and we went to a café nearby. I ordered Cappuccino and you ordered Milk tea. The interview began and ended within 30 minutes of me reading outquestions from my notebook and you answering it. Then you asked,
“So, what was the important thing you wanted to talk about?”
I was freaking out. I was screaming the loudest I could; in my head. The strong coffee was giving me a headache, or was it the urge to tell yet afraid to speak up. Then I took a long deep breath and with a quivery voice I started,
“I wanted to talk about …”
I spoke. I’d never spoken like that before. I went on and on. I told you the story that happened three years ago about the embarrassment in school, people pointing at me and laughing, failing in three subjects, parental and school pressure to do good, slowlygetting into depression for fear of people, dissatisfaction and shame over my body size, feeling unworthy, undervalued, failure and a burden. I told you about my sad diaries I kept, depressing stories and poems I wrote during that time, crying every single night for three years straight and not knowing why I cried the morning after and having only one thought in my mind at that instance,
“I want to end it all. I want to die”.
I watched your blue eyes turn red as tears dripped down and at that moment I knew why I chose you to confess about the story. Your blue eyes mirrored my brown ones, red, as tears dripped down. You understood me, my pain and guilt. So, I went on even though the lump in my throat and tears in my eyes was making it very difficult with other customers in the café staring at us. But neither did it matter, nor did I care. For the first time in my life, I didn’t care what other people thought of me.
I vividly remember after hearing me out, you simply stood up, spread your arms as I slipped into it and we cried hugging each other. I was staining your beautiful shirt with my tears, but it didn’t matter to you. I cried like a baby. I’d never cried like that before releasing the pain that I had had for so long. No one had cared so much about me and then you told me something that I was supposed to hear years ago. You said,
“I’m so proud of you. You are strong, and you do matter. If you need anything, I’m always there for you okay?”.
I needed to hear that so much. I believed I never made anyone proud no matter how much I tried. I was a bad daughter and bad student failing three subjects at a time, not being a good friend because I felt safe in my room alone rather than with anyone else and I hated myself. I didn’t matter to anyone not even myself. I had entire two dairies filled with tear stains and sentences that said I hated myself. I felt no one cared but you did. You listened to me and cried for me!
This small conversation changed my life. It would sound absurd but what happened after this was the best moments of my life. I was happy. I had never been happy, and it is very difficult to explain how this simple feelinglike being happy is so difficult to attain and it meant the biggest success to me.
After that day I burnt the two sad diaries that I had, started ranking first in my high school and still do in my university as a third year Media Studies undergrad. (Part of the reason is also because I chose the subject that I was really into.)
Claire, because of you I realized that nothing is impossible when you believe in yourself and I quote you,
“If you don’t believe in yourself, surround yourself with people who believe in you”.
And I had you, girls of Women LEAD and my friends who made me feel safe to start socializing again. I shared this story with a few friends too as you suggested. The first time I cried, the second time I had tearin my eyes, the third I still felt a lump in my throat, and the fourth I felt strong to have overcome it all alone.
As I start rewinding to all that you’ve done for me, these words seem very puny to express my gratitude. You were there to make my very first Curriculum Vitae (CV) and now there were so many opportunities that had opened just because you taught me to believe in myself. It began with my first internship in a magazine then moved on to my first paid work as a reporter in an international news organization. At 18, I had my first speech as a guest speaker in an organization on Women’s Day 2015 where a young girl had come up to me and said, “You are so inspiring!” and I was the same 15-year-old who ran off the stage in a speech competition because of stage fright.
You were always the one to encourage me to write more. I never thought that my pieces were strong enough, but you sent me articles on writing better or links on writing competitions. I remember the day I first cried because I was happy. It was when I received a message that an amazing illustrator from USA had read a newsletter I wrote for an organization and made an illustrated comic inspired by my article. And so many wonderful things have happened just because of a single conversation.
I always complained about missing a god mother in my Cinderella story and you made me realize I’m my own savior, but I realized that I couldn’t have done it without a little boost from strong and inspiring real-life fairy god mother who has blue eyes and curly blond hair.