Why I write.
When I moved away to start graduate school 2,000 miles away from my home, it was the most provocative thing I had ever done. Being so far away and doing something so hard helped me gain independence/ skills/ confidence/ competence in a way I wouldn’t have otherwise.
There’s a picture of myself that I took almost five years ago in a grocery store parking lot. It was during my third year of graduate school on a very cold and snowy winter day. Several inches of snow had accumulated on my car while I was in the store. Bundled up, I put my groceries in the car and then cleared the snow off my car. I wanted to take a picture of myself to remember how independent and brave I felt taking care of things all on my own. My cheeks are rosy from the cold. I look young and innocent, because I was.
I think often of that picture and that part of myself and consider what I wish I had known then about myself, my situation, and my faith. That part of me in the picture symbolized all of the many, many ways I was trying to be good because I had been taught I needed to be good to be loved and accepted. It symbolized the parts of me that held so much guilt and shame about being imperfect, about having the body I have, about having sexual feelings and a sexual self. That version of me had no information about her body, about sex, or her right to pleasure. She didn’t know she deserved safety, and comfort in whatever forms were right for her.
That photo symbolized all of the intricate and complex gymnastics I was doing to make so many different things work because I didn’t know I had any other options or that I could listen to what I was feeling in my body to guide my choices. She didn’t know she could choose to take a break from her faith if she needed to. That version of me knew very little to nothing about intersectional feminism. She had no idea she could choose what was right for her or protect her safety or well-being. She needed someone to tell her so many things.
When I write, I think of her.
I write to the parts of myself that need to know it’s okay to have deeply complex feelings about your family and your faith.
I write to the parts of myself that feel ashamed and shy and embarrassed about speaking their mind and saying how they are feeling. I tell her, “it’s okay to speak and use your voice. I’m listening. Others are listening.”
I write to the parts of myself that needed to be told it’s okay to listen to your body and your intuition, even if that means doing things that threaten others’ ideas or belief systems.
I write to the parts of myself that felt so much shame and guilt and embarrassment about being a sexual being, especially as a single person. I tell those parts, “you deserve to feel pleasure. You deserve to feel safety and comfort, like anyone else.”
I write to the parts of myself that feel afraid to show themselves and to be who they are.
I write to the parts of myself that were wronged, and have questions and anger and pain.
In turn, I think of others who have parts that need to hear these things.
I write to the parts of you that need to know it’s okay to make decisions that are right for your body, your situation, your well-being, your safety, your pain.
I write to the parts of you that need to hear someone else say your mind and your judgment and your decision-making abilities are God-given.
I write to the parts of you that have been taught it’s wrong to be assertive or powerful. I write to tell you those parts are precious and important and needed.
I write to tell all of us all the parts of who we are, the intersections of our identity, and our intricacies are needed, precious, and a gift.