It wasn’t until my 40s that I let go of what I thought I needed to be, and started being myself. It was the scariest, and also the most miraculous thing I’ve ever done. Beneath all the layers of protection and polish, I found
- I've also rejected and suppressed parts of myself in the context of racism, patriarchy, cultural expectations from both the majority culture and my family's culture. We suppress parts of ourselves because at some point in our lives, it's what we needed to do to be safe, and to belong (have the assurance of connection with other people). I lived most of my 45 years that way.
- I know how scary it is even to imagine letting go of the identities that have kept us safe. These could be professional identities -- lawyer, respected professional, doctor, etc. These could be personality masks we put on -- the person who gets things done, the good girl, the dependable one, the one who takes care of everyone else, the one who always has the answer.
- I've gone through the process of giving birth to my true self. This is of course a process, but I've gone through those birthing pains as the masks tear and break, and something tender and powerful begins to emerge. This self is both new and deeply familiar. This self is completely unique. I know hard it can be to believe in this new self, and I know the kind of courage it takes to bring her out and to integrate her into you exterior life. I've written about this process here. And this poem is a poetic exploration of surrendering to this process.
- I have the capacity to guide and hold women through this birthing process.
you know how to be what the situation calls for — chameleon