Hidden beneath the lies
ostracized for your size
you feel you have no worth
because you can’t find yourself between
the pages of the latest magazine
because the skinny jeans you wear
never look skinny on you
so you hide behind the layers
and layers of clothes
that can’t seem to cover
the scars that no one can see
but everyone knows are there.
on your heart
on your soul
on your wrist
self-inflicted pain that feels better than his fist
he only does it because he loves you
the lies you tell yourself
to believe cuz you could
never conceive of signing up
for this kind of abuse willingly
it must be love
and sometimes love hurts, right?
Am I wrong
for choosing to love her instead of him
because he is everything
that creeps into my dreams
and bleeds the colors from my rainbows
he is the shadow hiding
in dark alleys
he is the goosebumps on my arm
the shiver in the night
how is wrong when it feels so right?
You will judge me because you will never understand
so I can never tell you my truth
you think you know me, but
if you really knew me
then you would know
that I hide my virtue, too.
The above is a poem I was inspired to write during a sleepover Jackie, my friend and sister in ministry, and I hosted for our new group of mentees. The group of 16-18 year olds was chosen to pilot the “Queen in Me” program, a fellowship of young women designed to foster strong, healthy relationships they will carry into their adulthood.
After breakfast, we all gathered in Jackie’s living room with our journals and mugs of coffee for our final activity: a reflection of the time spent together. We then shared our writing, and consequently, our feelings with one another. I shared my poem, an amalgamation of the emotions, stories, and the victories I had experienced with the girls. Then, one last prompt before we all packed up and headed to our separate destinations. “Choose one word to describe how you are feeling right now.” “Right now” encompassed the reflective moments which filled the room after 15 hours of games, food, pranks, laughter, tears with two teachers, and 7 other girls, some of whom they knew well and others whom they did not. The responses rolled in.
As words continued to popcorn around the room, I oscillated between several revelations and understandings. Unable to settle on just one word to describe my experience, I choose the one I believed would convey everything I felt. “Full,” I answered.
“Safe.” A young girl on my left contributed in a calm and even tone. I studied her for a moment, her pretty mocha-colored skin, fierce eyes, and thick curly hair. I followed her gaze across the sun-drenched room, through the window, and out into space. I wondered from what she had felt protected. In that moment, I felt her sadness, her longing, her failures. In that instant, I became that young girl all over again. The volcano deep inside threatening eruption finally spilled over. Tears flooded my eyes; I could no longer hold them back. Every terribly awful event I had ever experienced replayed in my mind. I counted the tears I shed in my childhood. I felt the loneliness and worthlessness of my young adulthood engulf me once more. But this time, I rejoiced in the sorrow. It seemed as if, for the first time, everything made sense. I had come to terms with the valleys of my life long ago and had even accepted that I was a better person for them, but in this moment, my presence, my testimony; my victory had caused a young girl to feel safe. To feel like she wasn’t alone in her struggles. Safety. Something many of us take for granted. So many girls around the word desire only to be protected in their schools, neighborhoods, homes, and even in their own minds. It was all worth it.
The tears I shed were tears of joy that God would count me worthy to minister and counsel the young girls who encircled me. He was preparing me for such a time as this. The neglect, abuse, and depression I endured had much less to do with me and much more to do with this day. I finally figured it out. There was purpose behind my pain. Every ounce of it and, if asked if I’d do it all over again, I’d answer in a heartbeat, “Yes.”