I have rarely been called beautiful.

Beautiful is not for girls like me, so I have been told.

I have felt beautiful a few times – but it is not something that I am, so I have been told.

Pretty. Yes, pretty.  

I have been called that often enough that I even believed it sometimes.

Cute, adorable sometimes.

Sweet has been uttered more than a few times in reference to me.

All words that others have used to describe me, to describe who I am.

What I am really, not who; because who I am is what I am of course – and that is wrapped up easily in descriptors of my physical attributes.

These are the words that sprinkle my life like garnish.

Garnish that the entree that is me needs to be adorned with if I am to really be complete.

“Make sure you wear something nice for your first day of school. No one is going to want to talk to you if you don’t look approachable.”

“Smile. You’re prettier when you smile. You’re not going to make any friends if you don’t smile.”

“How are you ever going to find someone if you go out looking like that?”

“You could be so much prettier if you just put in some effort.”

 

Helpful words of advice to the younger me so that I could learn how to perfectly present the commodity of me for approval.

For purchase.

For acceptance.

For friendship.

For love.

I was the best student of these lessons – I always aim to be perfect so why should I not be perfect at this learning after all.

I have known since as far back as I can remember that I am worth something to someone if I am pretty, cute, quiet, polite,well-behaved…good… but mostly if how I look and behave is “right”.

That “right” though is the slippery, elusive, mist-shrouded image always just out of my grasp.  

It is a picture made by someone else that I could never seem to bring into focus.

A picture that I knew held the secret to me feeling “right”.

For so many years, every incarnation of me was shaped to try to fill the nooks and crannies of the boxes that I kept trying to fit into.

Girls that looked like me did certain things – and didn’t do certain other things.

Girls like me behaved a certain way.

They lived inside very specific boxes.

Boxes that fit girls like me.

Except that they didn’t fit me.

They hurt.

Trey pinched and chafed and suffocated.

I tried to pretend that I poured into them effortlessly and perfectly but I could never live that lie for long before the boxes just hurt too much.

Over and over again.

So many times that after a while I didn’t even know what shape I was and what the box would look like that DID fit me perfectly.

 

I felt wrong.

Wrong in a way that can’t ever be made right.

 

It didn’t occur to me that I didn’t need a box to live inside of.

I had learned the lessons so well that I knew – not just knew but believed so deeply that it was truth – that I was not complete if I wasn’t framed in someone else’s parameters.

It never occurred to me that the package that I came in was complete and perfect and whole.

That there is no such thing as “girls like me”.  

That the real truth is that I am the box.

And it is not wrong.

It is right, perfectly right.

And it’s rightness has nothing to do with how it looks.

And that is fucking beautiful.

we all have voices inside of us that speak to us.

in whispers or in screams.

and those voices came from somewhere.

and they need to go.

 

Sometimes I try to remember when the voices started.

Sometimes I wonder when they’ll go away. Or if they’ll go away at all.

It’s better not to think of that last one though, because there’s one voice that whispers an answer every time that I ask.

An answer that I deeply hope is a lie.

But what if the words it tells me in that whisper are true, after all? The thought of that scares me.

So I try not to wonder about that.

 

I can’t even remember a time when they haven’t been there.

They have made my own voice so small, it’s almost impossible for me to find it..

So quiet and hesitant that it barely even tries to be heard anymore.

When it does, it is swiftly shut down and swept away by the collective voice.

A singular voice now, born of the multitude of voices that took up residence throughout the years.

 

I would hear them, inside of me, in their own voices when they spoke to me.

They were voices that were not mine but I knew them all the same.

They were teachers, friends, aunts, uncles, doctors and strangers even.

The voices of those closest were the easiest to believe and allow in to stay.

My best friends, my lovers, my partners.

My mother.

 

Critiqued and judged, found to be lacking. A disappointment and of little value.

Their voices would scold, judge, shame and humiliate me.

Every doubt that my self mused over would be violently wrenched from my grip and

tossed amongst the voices like a game of hot potato.

The intensity and pain of the doubt growing stronger and more powerful as it went from voice to voice.

The self-doubt changed and shaped into a truth in their grasp before it was given back to me where I would accept it and hold it tightly to me.

It was mine now. True and indisputable. Believed.

 

My voice wouldn’t lie to me.

MY voice.

I wonder sometimes when the voices stopped being “them” and became “me”.

When did they start to speak in my voice, sounding like me and not themselves anymore?

Their whispers and shouts no longer familiar or known, but now in my own voice.

The cadence and nuances of what spoke to me made up of the very fibre of my self.

Sometimes I try to remember when the voices started.

Sometimes I wonder when they’ll go away. Or if they’ll go away at all.

 

the need to control and order and make “perfect” screams inside my head

 

it’s a fight and a drive, both feeding off of each other

 

the urge to find order and rightness trumps everything else right now

 

life spins and my thirst for alignment and structure is paramount

 

the breaking point is passed

 

i clean, organize, make right , put in order

 

nothing is left unturned, untouched

 

and yet it’s not enough

 

not tonight

 

the thirst for more is too much to put to bed

 

recent nights, it’s been put under wraps, muffled but not silenced

 

quieted and sated, a reprieve found

 

yet tonight it claws and scratches

 

demanding attention

 

requiring to be heard and attended to.

 

it hungers for

 

what’s been put off over and over again

 

the yearning

 

whispering to me what it needs

 

needs, not wants

 

the need that will only crave more

 

the longer it’s not fed

 

so I relent

 

i give in and loose the binds that hold

 

freedom of release flows and it is what’s needed

 

fed