In many ways, I am living the life I want. In some ways, not so much.
When I turned 18 and graduated from high school, I moved away from most of my family and every other person I knew to start fresh in a more liberal, open environment. Oklahoma is a great place to live and grow up, if you are like everyone else there or willing to pretend to be. I was not either of those things.
(I’m sure the last two statements will rile my friends and family still living there, and yet not be surprising.)
Luckily, I knew that there had to be a better place for me. Luckily, I knew that I was not the sinful outcast that I often felt like during my teen years. Luckily, I was not bullied as much as some were, and still are. Luckily, I was resilient and knew that I just had to bide my time to get out. Not everyone is lucky.
But still, that shit fucks with you. Yes, I knew I was a good and smart woman. But I also believed that I was ugly. There was and, frankly, still is a part of me that wonders if I deserve joy, security, and dare I say, love. I struggle with that everyday.
And I still choose to keep opening my heart. Every day, I have to choose between the bitterness or sweetness of life, between trusting and suspicion, between rushing headlong into experience or keeping myself safe. And I don’t always choose “correctly” or for my best interest. But I choose.
Other people’s disapproval is the price you pay for living the life you want, and it’s worth every penny.~Plumcake at Manolo for the Big Girl
And if there was one thing that I could tell Contance McMillan now, or could have told Phoebe Prince or Tempest Smith before they died, it would be “Fuck them. Lean on me now so that you can stand later. Prove them wrong by succeeding in this world. You will be stronger than they can ever hope to be.”
But we can’t say that, or be there for them, without first choosing to be open ourselves, without doing the work of healing our own wounds. My friend Ketzirah is counting the omer right now — this week is an exploration of Gevurah, or Strength. Her post today talks about Loving Kindness in Strength, which I take to mean the compassion and the strength to say “NO,” to draw the boundary between what is acceptable and what is not.
Here is my line in the sand.