“I want to major in journalism. I love writing. I want to be an author,” I said.
“You can’t do that,” you said. “You’ll never make any money writing. You have to change your major,” you said.
I heard the sad, sorrowful flutter of wings of a caged bird. And then silence.
Year after year, I allowed you to belittle me, to make me feel ashamed, and to see myself as unintelligent and worthless.
When I was small, you felt big. I didn’t know any better because you were supposed to be a safe person.
Unconditional love and support? Only when I did what you said, living as a
marionette in your world of controlled environment. You wanted a puppet to mimic you. You couldn’t stand when I had opinions or thoughts that were different than yours, and when I did, I was stupid.
I lived in fear of your words.
They cut like knives, deep into my bone until I lived with a constant ache, a longing to be good enough. A longing to find my worth inside your ever-changing expectations. A dull pang of guilt followed me everywhere, paralyzing me into living as a robot.
You crushed every ounce of confidence I ever had so that I was putty in your hand, only moldable by you.
You were surprised when I was quiet, reserved. You shamed every bit of life out of me. Why couldn’t I be more like you? You tried to make me everyone but who I was. I wasn’t acceptable as I came, I needed fixing. You knew just the way for me to think, live, and be.
I wasn’t capable of being anything without you. You needed to feel loved and needed, so I had to be dependent on you. Manipulation coursed through your veins, your source of power.
And then I met him.
Our eyes locked and he saw me. He saw the potential of the person I was deep inside. He gently took my hand and cradled me into his world. He cherished my presence, my simple existence. He didn’t say anything, expect anything, or do anything—he just held me there, a life-preserving anchor around a bobbing body. We stayed afloat together, clinging to each other.
He was goodness, fullness, the warmth of life. He loved all of me, and he never asked me to change. A constant, steadfast love amidst the ugly, smoking ruins. A quiet fierceness of acceptance, just as I was. He pushed me to follow the nudging intuition that I couldn’t trust on my own.
I said I can’t and he said you can.
Without a waiver of hesitation, he said, “I believe in you.”
I said no, and he said yes.
I started writing. I pushed it aside. He silently nudged it back in front of me. I said no. He said you can. A thousand times over he said, you can. I did not believe him, but I loved him and I did it for his belief in me. Through tears and heartbreak and loss and life, I kept writing with him by my side.
“No one will like this,” I said.
“Someone will love this,” he said.
“I can’t share this,” I said.
“The world needs this,” he said.
“It will never be good enough,” I said.
“You have always been enough,” he said.
Two days later, it was.
My first published book releases this fall.