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Becoming real



"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"


"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."


"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.


"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."


"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"


"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."--Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit


Last night I read this story to my daughter before bedtime, and the section above stood out to me. For all the trials we've been through in the last nine months, J.J. and I are becoming Real.


I often get frustrated with people who treat J.J. like he is dumb or somehow less capable because of his aphasia. My husband is brilliant, and the fact that he sometimes has trouble finding the words to express his thoughts doesn't make him any less so. I know this, and the people who truly care about us know this...why should it matter what the rest think? They just don't understand, so they don't know that J.J. is Real.


We all have our challenges. J.J.'s struggle happens to be more public than the struggles that some people have to endure. As the Skin Horse said, sometimes being Real hurts.


This is where the rubber meets the road. It's easy to swear to love someone in good times and bad when you've never had to experience those bad times. We've been through the bad times now, though, and it's made our marriage stronger. Are we perfect? No. Is our marriage perfect? No. Do we have trials? Sure. Because we are, and our marriage is, Real.


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hey Erin:


such a thought provoking entry.I also feel our marriage became quite stronger after my stroke. actual love of the person shows when times are bad. your whole family is quite real.




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Yep, particularly about the hair loved off and the joints being loose ( in my case creaky). It is a growing as you go thing, being REAL. And long term carers and long term survivors have paid the dues and OWN this position.


Thanks for this blog Erin, very thought provoking.



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The Velveteen Rabbit is one of my favorite stories. I am so glad that you mentioned it.

Yes, we need to become real. I was watching the the show about Joe Pimentel, very active in getting the ADA passed. One of the actors said that people with disabilities want to be seen. It seems that sometimes people just ignore and pretend that you do not exist if you are different.


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