Once upon a time I believed anything was possible.
I was a happy baby (so my mother remembers it), a well behaved child, quiet, introspective & about 40 from the age of 4, again so my mother tells me. I was afraid of the dark, I still am. As a child I hated the process of going to sleep in case I didn’t wake up. now I’m just afraid of leaving this planet having not made a positive impact on it.
As a toddler my best friend was a dog my dad rescued called Mogli, these days a dog with his temprament towards other dogs would never lived to tell the tale. I truly believed he changed the path of my heart & a devotion to the animals that runs through my DNA as if it were an elixer to my survival to this day.
When I was eight I learned that adults are faliable.
I became a statistic, I became something families dont talk about, I became a family skeleton in the my family Tree’s history. I learned that quiet, well behaved children cause chaos when they raise their voice, that the world is not fair, I learned how to hide in public.
Around the same time I was academically behind, an undiagnosed hearing issue meant that once again adults had determined my potential lacking, nice children don’t get heard, the irony now is not lost on me.
When I finally began to read, around 8 or 9 I dived into the world of stories, one of which was Black Beauty, to this day I remember my inconsolable pain at the words of Ginger, Escapism would it seem come with a price, along with a new love of horses.
Scroll forward through my childhood years I have almost no memory of & I’m 17, I survived 2 years of disordered eating & I’ve found a passion for dancing.
From all directions I’m told its a futile passion, but in the dance Studio I feel something, I’m breathing. I also have horrendous stage fright, It seems I cant quite quiet the demons in my head repeatedly telling me that little girls are best when they are seen but not heard. And then my father dies suddenly & unexpectedly I’m charged with changing direction overnight.
I am 17 and already lived out too many societal labels. I’ve been told I’m a victim of child abuse, that I’m learning impared due to a disability. That I am an addict, and always will.
And now, now I’m told I’m a grieving child who will never recover.
I am 17 years old.
So why am I setting a scene so seemingly bleak. As adults we often impose narratives & identies on children & young people which they did not ask for, we mean well, we create structure & try to provide certainty to their young lives. We quash freedom & creativity, better not to be disappointed when you fail and we do not teach them how to navigate & embrace change or unfairness.
We are also still conditioning young women and girls to suppress their voice & the power of their very femaleness, we learn not make those in power feel too disempowered, don’t intimidate them too much, subjugate just enough to keep the decision makers ego’s healthy & remember don’t be too loud, particularly if you are over 40.
Looking back on it something interesting happened at 17, I made a decision, I was largely alone so I decided to fight back.
I started to change my narrative, it would take another 25 years to start to change the script running in my head but I started to change the words around which I would allow myself to be perceived & described.
I would be no ones victim & I would start to raise my voice, it did not happen over night & hindsight has allowed me to see where I was bullied, as late as 2 years ago I allowed respected teachers to use humiliation as a tool for my ‘improvement’ but overall I have learned to be a woman made up of multiple weaves & threads creating a chaotic dense tapestry, that is loveable.
Being a silent survivor helped me develop an empathy towards the forgotten, ‘difficult’ children often unseen & unheard.
Not being able to hear made me see more detail in people. I’m interested in what people have to say behind what they actually say.
My addict & I coexist along side each other largely peacefully & harmlessly, sometimes I let her air her fears & patterns but she is not my enemy, she was just trying to find a way to express herself, I am not at war with myself any more. In a world where women deserve to be seen & heard more we must not hold ourselves back my making ourselves physically invisible.
We will never take an equal seat at the table intelectually if we refuse to nourish our bodies too.
And 29 years on without my father, it did change my life. It made me cherish every moment, including the worst ones. It gave me a language to be able to deal with other youngsters finding themselves without a parent at a young age.
I knew life wasn’t fair , but its as fair as it’s possible to be.
I believe entirely your narrative is yours to own, your story your own, your power your own.
This moment is just that, a moment, and it too will pass.
Be wild, be loud. You are enough.