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I used to think I was..

A patchwork of faces

By Emmy BPublished 6 months ago Updated 6 months ago 4 min read
I used to think I was..
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

I used to think I was French. And I am. Yet I saw myself grow into a biased idea of what it is to be American. Smiling and laughing and valuing trauma, prioritising individual success over collective power. Appreciating others for what they do before who they are, becoming my job, my personality is what I do though, isn’t it?

I used to think I was a fighter, someone who never gave up. And I am. Yet there I was in that relationship, drowning in co-dependence and a toxic love that was so overpowering I lost myself in another. Suddenly I started questioning what I was fighting for - is it for me or is it for an idea of who I thought I should be, a fairy tale happy ending that should be meant for me. Am I fighting for me, for this relationship, or for the hope it could complete me?

I used to think I was an activist, fighting for human rights, for the rights of women who didn’t have space to pursue their own desires. And I am. Yet I fought so hard to ensure that my values were heard, so they could see! So they could see that their culture was wrong to diminish them, to push them in this direction, into these roles I had internalised as wrong. But was I empowering them or was I pushing my vision of the world onto a society I didn’t and couldn’t truly understand ?

I used to think I was values driven and driving equity, fighting for those that didn’t have as I did the opportunities the world could give. And I am. Yet I thought I was a fighter for those that needed me and my privilege. Until I realised my saviour complex and the insecurities it was born from: the need for purpose and a meaning that meant I had a place here, driving change, building solutions for those who experienced a version of life fraught with challenges. But if I haven’t experienced this, do I have a right to speak for them?

I used to think I was someone who always pushed herself to be better. And I am. Inhaling book after self-development book, improving with the help of a therapist or three. Someone who saw the world as it is yet had the drive and hunger to push forward to always, always… always be better.. but is this what it means to be free … and why does this drive only come temporarily?

I used to think I was an addict. And I am. I was someone lost to the need for a substance that destroyed me. I am the terrible choices that I made, the cheating, the lying, the hiding and disappearing and escaping. And I remember thinking.. who is that in the mirror I see every day, this person that wants so desperately to live but refuses to live through anything that brings up the trauma I thought I had buried so deep? To be disliked?

I used to think I was my neurodivergence. And I am. My incessant need to interrupt others, my growing anxiety when I can’t focus, my frustration with a routine that has the potential to help me. But when is it neurodivergence and when does it become an excuse to be the worst parts of me?

I used to think I was queer. And I am. But does my sexuality define my choices and my personality? And is this still who I am in a heterosexual relationship, isolated from a community that at times is a haven and at times a reminder that maybe I just couldn’t commit to being queer?

I used to think I was a woman. And I am. Until he took it from me. Took my pride, took my body, took my sexuality and my beauty, took my freedom. Until what he made of me took me and turned me against me. Against what it means to be a woman, or what I thought it could give me. But we are never truly free from that which society assigns us to be… are we?

I used to think I was free, that I had finally broken away from societal expectations of what I needed to be, from the unhealthy escapes I had sheltered in. That I was forging my own path, choosing the people and the environment that I needed to be the best version of myself. But the doubt and the shame remained - am I re-creating the same patterns I always have?

I used to think I was fixed - that I had faced my problems, my insecurities and my pain. Like a broken toy that finally found that missing coil. Yes, here I was! I love myself, I have seen myself in my darkest moments, faced these horrible parts of myself I had always shied away from. But can I bear the knowledge that this is just the first step in changing?

Is this who I am? A patchwork of experiences and emotions, knitting an imperfect model that mirrored who I expected, who I never saw coming, who I hoped I could be. My identity is ever changing, constantly learning from the mistakes I repeat with frustration, catching myself reliving through these same cycles over and over and over again.

What I do know: I am that small ray of sunlight through the clouds. I am that cheerleader on the side, that is always there, always yelling always pushing. I am that person looking for the glimmer, for the smile, for the hope of something better. I am all of the things I loved about myself, all of the things I hated - I am all of these things I thought were taken away from me, by doubt, by shame, by fear, by society. I am all of these, but I am also more. I am unashamedly me.

performance poetry

About the Creator

Emmy B

I write some of my truths, and use words to weave stories and ideas together. Writing is a passion and an outlet for me and I hope to inspire, challenge, or simply be a reflection of others's experiences - to make people feel seen!

Reader insights

Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

Top insight

  1. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

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Comments (1)

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  • Dharrsheena Raja Segarran6 months ago

    This was so powerful! Is this for the Identity challenge?

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