i've had my teddy bear since i was an infant. the story goes that it was actually a gift from my mom to my dad...for valentine's day or something like that. i decided it was mine and it has been ever since. i was so young i don't even remember.
my teddy bear has been something that was constant in my life. no matter what happens it's always there---for me to cry on, scream into, throw against the wall, use as a pillow, even to hug at night when i need comfort. i know it sounds stupid and childish and it probably is, but i still sleep with my teddy bear a lot of nights. i suppose it's become such a habit that i really do sleep better when i have it.
through years of depression, anger, hurt, and fear, i have always had my teddy bear. i could cry to it, talk to it as a child, and it always listened, never judged, never gave advice. it just listened. do you remember the story of the velveteen rabbit? the little boy loved his rabbit so much it became "real" to him. and then, after the boy had scarlet fever, the nursery fairy came and turned the velveteen rabbit into a real rabbit. to me...ever since i was a child...my teddy bear has been just like the velveteen rabbit. it is "real" to me, it is a friend, and the one thing that has been there for me my entire life. since i was a baby, through childhood, through the abuse, through my teen years, through depression, and now into my adult years. i no longer talk to it, i no longer play with it, but i still cry on it. i still hug it when i need comfort. i still sleep with it as added comfort, in addition to my husband's warm body next to me.
i know that the majority of children grow out of their stuffed animals. they become adults and move on. perhaps because of the trauma i went through as a child, i am either not ready or not willing or not able to move on. a part of me is still that six year old little girl, scared and alone, alone except for her teddy bear to hug. the little girl inside of me emerges still when i'm scared, hurt, angry, depressed....and is still comforted by a stuffed toy.
my teddy bear has become like the velveteen rabbit. its fur is matted from 23 years of being hugged and slept on, cried on and put through the washer. the seam in the back is barely holding. its eyes are covered by the matted fur, its ears flattened. but just like the skin horse explained to the velveteen rabbit, it is beautiful to me.
"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 the 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."