I remember the words they used to use to define me.
I would never have used them myself, but they seemed so strong in their condemnation of who they thought I was ….that I started to register and identify with a list of unsavory adjectives.
My internal dialogue was quite self-deprecating at that age, as it can be.
I was not sure who I was becoming, and I was uneasy with change.
I did not know how to regulate my emotions, or at the least… hide them.
I felt weak, and misinterpreted.
Worse yet. I began to feel sorry for myself.
I came to the revelation that everyone knew something that I did not.
They all knew me better than I knew myself.
“The sad girl.”
“She’s so strange.”
“She seems lost.”
“Nobody likes her.”
Something about being young brings certain vulnerability to external projections.
If not handled compassionately, an individual will begin to take on projections created from others, and adopt them as there own creation.
I would not call it a weakness; I would call it an opening.
The heart, mind, and soul know no other way but to trust the world around them and what it has to offer.
And if what the world has to offer is harmful, then the young will invite destruction into their core being with open arms.
Destruction finds companionship in the young. It knows where to initiate a bond, and it knows just the right way to dig its’ claws into the skin of the vulnerable and exposed.
I do not relate to that girl anymore.
I rarely think of her.
I feel severed from her willingness to let others define her.
But a part of her still visits me from time to time.
She visits me in my moments of weakness.
She visits in those moments that I wallow about in self-doubt.
She visits the I within that sees herself as a victim.
She visits the lost adolescent in search of an individual identity, and a family.
She visits the abandoned, abused, and unwanted that resides deep down.
I stand here almost 15 years later, in a completely different lifescape.
Things could be no more different than they are in this moment.
And things could be no more similar.
I tell myself I am unaffected by my past.
I want to believe that my past bears no fruit for my future.
I try and sweep my dirty secrets under the rug.
I try to hide my scars, my mistakes, and my misfortunes.
But tiny particles of intention and resignation lie at the base of my core being.
Fragments of past lives lived well, and past lives lived in pain.
They settle together in the deepest central core of my being, and they gossip.
They tell each other secrets, and they keep my autobiographical movies winding and unwinding tirelessly.
They have begun to swoon me now from time to time with phrases from external sources.
“She is inspirational.”
“She has the life I want to live.”
“She is strong.”
Different words, such different words spoken about the same girl.
She hasn’t changed. She is still organically the same as she always was.
She loves the same, she dreams the same, she writes the same, she cries the same.
She was unseen before, and while parts of her remain unseen….she has begun to show the world a fearlessness, that although strong is still not unyielding.
She bleeds the same, she trips the same, and she still describes herself with all the words that have ever been etched into her skin.
She just knows how to wear them now.
She can cover the words with depictions from a life well lived, but the words still lay across the bare of her body like a carved etching on a stone wall.
She may stand elevated, but she is not unchallenged.
She may be tough, but she is still fragile.
Like everyone that was before her, and everyone that will come after her…..No one person is left untouched by projection.
Not even the fiercest man on earth.
I do not say this to ask you for your permission to like myself.
I am not asking you to praise me.
I am not asking for you to try and understand me, and uncover parts of me that may seem damaged and misunderstood.
I say this, and expose my own vulnerability so that you may do the same.
No one is free of judgment or disdain.
We have all given words away, that we cannot take back.
And we must accept that there are people walking around in this world with our adjectives etched into their shoulders, and onto their ribs. Untiringly winding trails along their bodies made of our vowels.
I would say that that is an infinite tribute of our own legacy, worn on the face of another.
So I say this with all sincerity.
Because like you, …..I wish to wear the words of my life with grace, and ease, and humility….and I would hope that you and the others that may come behind you…..would give me the gift of compassion, and grace to dress me with your best.