The Void that Begged to be Filled with Vengeance.
You wrapped me up in a white canvas and wouldn’t allow me to get dirty, wet, or stained.
Your nimble fingers tied marionette strings to my limbs and controlled my movements. I was always the sweet one on the sidelines, watching with a careful eye, the others playing in the mud, laughing and squealing.
I was trying to memorize their movements because I wanted to learn how to be human.
You impressed upon me that I must be beautiful, put together, composed and smiling always. I could shape-shift into anything you needed me to be.
I knew how to adopt your opinions as my own, how to mirror your behavior so you’d like me, how to dress like you so I’d fit into your world.
Beneath my shiny veneer, anger I was not allowed to express and confusion ate away at my insides. Insecurity coursed through my veins like white water rapids. Hurricanes of shame tore through my head rendering me mute and paralyzed. I couldn’t show my imperfect cards to anyone.
The void screamed and begged to be filled with such a vengeance that I felt I had no choice but to listen.
The gaping black hole in my heart labeled not good enough sucked down every cupcake, burger, cocktail and dick it could find. I couldn’t fill it quickly enough.
Nothing was ever enough. I didn’t know how to be still, trust my urges, my words, or the sound of my voice. I didn’t know I was capable, or that going within was the only way out.
“Who do you think you are?” the overprotective critic thundered in my mind.
“You think you’re so great? Really? You?”
So I had another cupcake because why not? It’s all I’d ever amount to, because it’s all you’ve ever taught me. Putting my head in the sand was easier than going against your accusations.
Covering up the fragmented parts you deemed unacceptable felt more familiar than letting them shine brightly in all their broken glory.
I’ve hidden in corners, lips sealed shut so as not to embarrass you. I’ve attempted to saw off the dark, violent parts of myself, the hurt places, the dripping wounds you cannot face because they remind you of your own gaping festering sores just so you’d love me.
I have put on the fucking dress, the make-up and high heels. I have acted like the angelic doll you wanted to perceive me as. I have played the part of your pretty little girl, all sunshine and rainbows.
I have numbed my grief, rage, sexuality and sadness with worldly distractions.
I’ve adopted your belief system and it’s chewed away at my heart. Your voice counters my attempts with threats and declarations of my laziness.
I have spent my time sailing from one thing to the next, hands fluttering like butterfly wings. I have starved my soul because I was taught to fear my own humanity.
I’m constantly at war with myself, comparing and contrasting against other people.
My body cries for respect, rest, love, but I don’t know how to give those things. I must accomplish, achieve, strive and be everything I have felt that I am not.
My eyes are always on the future, my aching heart on the past, and my mind always scrambling trying to clean up the mess I perceive myself to be.
I cannot possibly accept myself!
I counter when the idea of attempting arises, even though I want to know what that feels like.
It could mean this identity I hold close is all wrong. Lies passed down generation after generation. Surely, if I let go, I’ll be pummeled with grief and sadness that I wasted so much time trying to be someone else.
It will mean untying the tattered marionette strings and severing my loyalty to you so I can find my way back to myself.
It will mean being responsible for myself, my actions and thoughts. No more blaming or finger-pointing.
But where does that leave me? What will fill my time besides chasing after someone else’s life?
Overhauling my false identity feels tremendous and sometimes, I’m not sure I’m up for the challenge. I reach for another cupcake, but then think before I take a bite,
“Wait. Hold still. Feel your way through whatever has bubbled up to the surface of your awareness.”
Acknowledging that I’m feeling scared, that change requires going into the unknown is terrifying but necessary in order to grow.
I am putting down the distractions and the desire to shit rainbows so I’m easier for you to stomach.
I am re-learning, what it feels like to be immersed in the very essence of my being.
This is where my truth lies.
It’s the faint whisper of knowing that I don’t need your approval for survival. I am animated, existing in this body, in this life, and doing what is meant for me.
In this place of knowing, I make sound decisions based on my needs and not yours.
My responsibility is to myself. When I am quiet long enough, my heart shows me what actions to take. My body follows suit. Tears spill, washing away the dirt you’ve poured over me.
My anger rises, but no longer feels like someone is ripping my skin off. It isn’t something I need to be afraid of, but an alarm pointing at a boundary that has been crossed.
I allow the sensation of fear to shake my core. I acknowledge the trembling in my limbs before moving on because it’s all it’s ever wanted.
When I listen to each part and accept that their presence, they quiet down. There is no need for numbing with extra food, attention from outside sources or alcohol.
Through acceptance, I take a step toward respecting myself. When I honor my humanity, I can relax and know that everything is unfolding as it should.
We all have every right to be here.
Melissa Lee is a Chicago-based writer, artist and Yoga teacher. Her work has appeared in xojane.com and the Garland Court Review. Currently, she is working on a blog that is centered around lady-friendly erotica. You can contact her via email.