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Patricia the Horrible This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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According to Mother Teresa, “If you judge someone, you have no time to love them.” I first saw this quote on the wall of my sixth-grade classroom, and I hated it. Rather, I hated Mother Teresa's intention, but I knew that the quote's truth was inarguable. I felt that it was better to judge people so as not to have to love them, because some people don't deserve a chance. Judgments are shields, and mine was impenetrable.

Patricia was my dad's second girlfriend after my parents' divorce. The first three years of our relationship were characterized by my hatred of her, manifested in my hurting her, and every moment, hurting myself twice as much.

From the moment I laid eyes on her, Patricia was the object of my unabated hatred, not because of anything she had done, but because of everything she represented. I judged her to be a heartless, soulless, two-dimensional figure: she was a representation of my loneliness and pain. I left whenever she entered a room, I slammed car doors in her face. Over those three years, I took pride in the fact that I never spoke a word to her or made eye contact.

I treated Patricia with resentment and anger because my hate was my protection, my shield. I was afraid to let go of the anger and hate, afraid that if I gave her a chance, I might love her.

For those three years, Patricia didn't hate me; she understood me. She understood my anger and confusion, and she had faith in me, although she had every reason not to. To her, I was a good person who was confused and scared. She saw me as I wished I could see myself.

None of this became clear to me overnight. ­Instead, over the next two years, the two-dimensional image of her began to take the shape of a person. As I let go of my hatred, I gave her a chance. She became a woman who, like me, loves Karen Kingsley and Diet Coke; who, unlike me, buys things advertised on ­infomercials.

Three weeks ago, I saw that same Mother Teresa quote again, but this time I smiled. Patricia never gave up on me, and the chance she gave me changed my life. Because of this, I know the value of having faith in a person, of seeing others as they wish they could see themselves. I'm glad I have a lot of time left, because I definitely have a lot of chances left to give, a lot of people left to love.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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