I spent all of Saturday afternoon sobbing.
I sobbed because I am absolutely terrified. I am terrified because I don’t know any other way to be. As a child I’d stay up all night, listening through the crack of my bedroom door. I had to remain alert at all times because from a young age I somehow convinced myself that my existence, attention and alertness alone could act as a shield to protect my mom and me from an abuser.
I sobbed because and I am terrified because I want my life to be about more than mere survival. I want to know from deep within myself that I am safe. I want to trust that I can create a life that is contextually beautiful in my own eyes.
I ache for the ideal that black women and gay women and fat, gay black women and soft-fleshed, gentle men who wear makeup but still love pussy – or who maybe don’t prefer sex at all – should be able to share the same yearnings as my own.
I sobbed because of my own existence. I am tired of my existence being either validated or dismissed based on the perceptions of the society that surrounds me. I am tired of existing for your pleasure, your happiness, your safety, your approval.
I am terrified because I am a woman, and when I serve you your whiskey sours or your vodka tonics or your shots of Fireball, you see me as damaged, ignorant and weak. You see me as emotional and physical prey. I am devastated because if I were a man, you’d see me as a handsome, elusive figure who bowed gracefully and gallantly out of a society and a culture that stifled his intellect and true passions and desires. You would envy him.
I sobbed because just a few weeks ago I sat at my computer and drafted a well-worded Facebook post describing Black Friday shoppers as “sheep.” I didn’t understand my own privilege. I didn’t understand that for some people, a new TV is a luxury that they need to literally fight for.
I am heartbroken because I rarely meet a woman who doesn’t withhold nourishment from herself. I rarely meet a woman who doesn’t punish herself for indulging. I rarely meet a woman who believes it in her bones that her desires and preferences are equal to, or even greater than, her man’s. I rarely eat a huge, delicious meal without gripping and hating the flesh around my waist.
I am angry because I believe that too many women will go their whole lives without ever loving sex, because as women, our sexual energy has been shunned both overtly and subtly for centuries. I am angry because I live in a world of deeply depressed men who are being viciously choked by the pressure to live up to masculine ideals.
I am terrified because I live in a world where men rape women, yet the responsibility is my own to protect myself from rape.
I am heartbroken because I watched my stepdad beat my mom so badly and for so long, that I can’t find it within myself to stop seeing her as the victim, and to start seeing myself as the daughter.
I sobbed because I am hurting so much, and I can feel a light inside of me that is begging to be set free. A light that feels stifled by the fears I’ve been carrying with me all my life and a society that allows the reality of those fears to flourish; a light that heeds your warnings far too often. Don’t take a sleeper train from Berlin to Madrid. Don’t take the bus home from work at night. Don’t hike a pilgrimage through Spain. Don’t sleep on a stranger’s couch in Portugal. Don’t camp outside amongst a beautiful backdrop of sky and mountains. Don’t quit your job to pursue your dream to write.
Your light is not practical. Your light is not safe. Your light is not appropriate. Your light is not deserved. Your light is not available. Your light is not enough.