Every morning I’d cross my room like a thief in the night. The curtain remained closed, and the lights were turned off. I liked to believe that my avoidance had helped me develop spidey senses or night-vision skills of some sort. But in reality, my pinky toe usually paid the price for my stubbornness. To be fair, I didn’t think that my self-avoidance was so much stubbornness as it was a twisted sense of self-care.
The bathroom was a whole other story, but it was a much smaller setting with less things to bump into. At least there, the walls weren’t pink-princess-painted.
Bathroom walls were usually pretty plain and I much preferred that. I tried to be pretty plain too. Sink into myself so as not to stand out, be seen, be identified by the outside world as the “W” word. (Wrong? Woman? What was the difference?)
One time I tried to color the bedroom walls with marker.
I thought maybe if it was just a different shade of pink- like blue or purple maybe- that it would feel more like my bedroom. That didn’t go over well with my parents. Luckily I was young enough to chalk it up to “stupid shit your toddler does”.
But now I was a teen, and it became “stupid shit your teen does.”
They never really understood my sense of fashion either. They’d lose me in clothing stores often. I’d lose myself in cargo shorts and boxers; but felt even more lost leaving with shopping bags of bows and blouses.
So I tried.
I tried to play the part. At least when the lights were on and everyone kept looking. I tried to play their part. Everyone kept looking.
I once “borrowed” my dad’s plaid shirt and wore it for three days straight. Prayed he wouldn’t notice.
I learned that thrift stores are a trans boi’s best friend when you have no money. And learned that a few found dollars and a stranger’s thick plaid shirt can make you feel more at home in yourself.
At home in yourself, what a concept.
One day, I packed socks in my pants and felt better. Felt like packing parts of yourself so they don’t get left behind was better than leaving yourself behind over and over again.
I wondered why we are constantly made to feel like we need to leave ourselves over and over again.
One morning, I woke up and held myself, all blue and purple after one night of letting too much go. I whispered into the darkness, “why am I always running?”
The darkness whispered back, “you know you can’t run forever. When will you stop?”
I know the art of letting go is a complexity of skill and grief developed over time. But isn’t the pain of letting yourself go enough skill and grief developed? Haven’t I learned this ache thoroughly enough?
When do you get permission to hold onto the parts that make you want to turn the lights on? When are you allowed to paint yourself a rainbow? When do you stop silencing your every movement for the sake of others?
So last night, I un-twisted my sense of self-care and held myself both unafraid and petrified. Last night I whispered my name wrapped in thick plaid in a room painted yellow. And I finally wanted to stay.
Today I drew open the curtains.
This piece was inspired by a prompt on Reedsy.com that asked you to write a story that includes someone saying, "You can't run forever".
What have you been running from?
Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!