The feeling is so familiar.
The gripping, churning feeling. The promise of repercussion. The flinch before the fallout.
The moment when my bright and shiny light sprung from my carefully folded hands, trespassing against my best attempts to keep it under wraps.
For many years I skirted the dance of my ambition and my fear of shining too brightly.
I stood back against the wall, awkwardly shifting from one foot to another, as I ached with the yearning for vibrancy. As I ached to be the one in the center of the circle.
Even now I feel the cool of the brick against my back as beads of sweat gather at the remembering.
You are going to be in trouble. You’ve been found out. You’ve been bad.
But I haven’t been bad. I’ve just been myself.
And, the thing is, I don’t remember ever being told that I was bad.
I don’t remember ever being told that there was a right way or a wrong way to do things.
It’s as if these beliefs seeped through my permeable skin, prancing through my open gates and taking up residence in my heart.
And I was wide open for the taking.
I wanted desperately to be good. I wanted to do all of the right things. I wanted to be pleasant and lovable. I wanted to have a nice life.
I wanted to shave off my sharp edges and mold myself into something relatively inoffensive.
But, inside, I am sharp and brazen. Inside, I am chandeliers of mega watt bulbs and sparkling golden intention. Inside, I am unapologetically self-assured.
Bide your time. Do it the right way. Channel your brightness into safe channels and projects that don’t call attention.
The thing is, I am breaking free despite myself. A little bit more each day.
I find myself spilling over my carefully defined edges and showing up in spite of my most carefully laid plans.
I used to believe that if I showed the world who I really was, I would be alone forever. But, now I know that if I don’t allow myself to be who I really am, I will belong to no one – not even myself. Now I know that there is no greater loneliness than not belonging to yourself.
Our spirits will not be denied.
I laid the bricks myself. I am the imprisoned and the guard. I mitigated my own shine.
My spirit will not be denied.
She breaks through in crashing waves and fits and starts. She is my oxygen tank when I am pressed with my face against the glass ceiling of my upper limit. She is a living, wild thing vibrating in my limbs, and no amount of distraction with dissuade her.
I am allowed to have my own life. I am allowed to create it in whatever way I see fit. I am allowed to nurture and nourish this life as it if were my sacred responsibility – because it is. I am allowed to do things that are threatening or make other people uncomfortable. I am allowed to make choices that don’t make sense to anyone but me. I am allowed to curate my own happy ending.
She will not be denied.
And I am left with the shell of that former good girl, that piece of myself that wishes she would just be quiet already and stop causing so much trouble. She was so sweet. She took such good care of me.
And I mourn her, because when she was me safety was clearly outlined in the dos and don’ts of Miss Manners. When she was me, she was easily satiated by the piecemeal life that I had handed her. When she was me, I knew the rules of the game.
But there is healing in the union of these two parts.
The healing is in knowing that there is room here for the two of us.
The healing is in knowing, in truth… I am an adult and there is no one left to get in trouble with.
The healing is in the balancing of becoming who I really am.
The healing is in knowing that I have a responsibility to tend to this life as if it were my best thing, because it is.
The healing is common ground between the bright sparkle of the chandelier and the sweaty, feverish fear of being too much.
The healing is in carving out space like a snow angel, expanding my edges and allowing true self to shine through.
The healing is in speaking to the good girl in the sweet tones that we use with someone that we love. Thank you. Thank you for keeping me safe. You did not disappoint me. I do not need to rebel against you. Can we coexist here, peacefully?
The healing is in knowing that I have permission to be who I am in this moment. Permission to change my mind. Permission to change the rules. Permission to rewrite the ending of my story.
Permission to take up space in my own life.