I washed my body, polished it til it shone on all things that were not housed inside it.
I became a mirror; reflected what I saw and called it my own image.
Part 1: Blood
I was told how much I looked like my mother.
I was told how my sister looked and acted nothing alike.
I was told how much I act like my father.
I was never told how I was like myself- my story only existed in comparison to others.
I only existed in comparison to others. That was a universal truth in the years of my life when my body was younger than it is now. My body was never mine. It was only in scrapes and bruises when I was able to engage with myself, wearing them like badges. They reminded me I was real and that this body was mine. This blood slipping past cells to taste the earth originated inside of me. This swatch of purple-stained skin felt like painting, felt like permanent though I knew they would fade. It was simply a reminder I was the cause for what bloomed from me. I was my own creator in a world where I existed as an echo of those around me. I could make myself different.
Part 2: Hair
I took fate into my own hands for the first time in my life when I was 5. Understand, I was a child you had to keep eyes on. Therefore, I learned early how to hide things. Like myself. Like scissors. Like locks of hair til morning. All my gorgeous hair, gone. My mother wept. My father wail. I didn’t get it. I liked my new short hair. I wasn’t allowed to touch scissors unsupervised for years. I wasn’t allowed to have my own idea of who I was for years-
but I waited. I was patient. I was good. I was allowed to have haircut once it past my shoulder blades. I was 10. I couldn’t wait for the feeling of my hair brushing against the apples of my cheeks again. I forgot how much I loved that feeling, of not being trapped by my hair. Short-lived, that freedom of possibly knowing what I looked like- my father called me a dyke. I didn’t know what they word meant the. I knew it was wrong. I knew it was something I already was. I knew that I would have to practice at being a better mirror.
I went through cycles of growing out my hair, trying to correct myself. Look like the other girls, act like the other girls, be less like yourself. Be a better mirror. The longer the hair, the longer the lies, the memories trapped in the strands. I didn’t want to remember all the times I was called a sin, the cruel speculating within earshot- I chopped it all off and freedom met with me again. It was on my terms. No waiting, no pleading, no comments of “But you looked so good with long hair!” I was able to create my own image. I was able to begin to reclaim myself.
Part 3: Fear
No one told me that reclamation is a process. No one told me how process isn’t linear. This concept is still escapes me. Anger slips in between the statements like it belongs. Sadness seeps into the periods when progress has stagnated. They oscillate and take turns at rearing their heads in my chest, and they are me- Owning them is the hardest thing I’ve had to do. Owning and accepting are two different things. I do not know what acceptance looks like. I do not know what I look like. I do not try to look at myself. I am scared of what I will see. I am scared of what I won’t. I’m hoping that one day I’ll be brave enough to find out. I’m hoping one day I’ll be brave enough to accept what will appear when I look at myself.