In an earlier blog, I discussed how writing makes us vulnerable and that by embracing and harnessing that vulnerability it, in turn, makes us brave. This I know to be one of my own personal, if not universal truths. Whenever I entered a new space, professional or personal, I left a piece of myself standing outside. I left a piece of my journey, just out of arms reach for fear of discovery. I indeed left a whole era exposed to the elements because I was ashamed. This shame I carried was debilitating and enormously heavy- a weight tightly packed in every thought and personal interaction. Because of how I viewed the world I denied who I was and who I fought so valiantly to become. I feared being “othered”, a term author Janet Mock has often used. That the arduous process of the melting away of my old shell and giving self-birth to the woman I am today would be attacked. My authenticity and veracity as a woman, ultimately challenged.
Years ago, a little girl from Ontario turned six. She was lanky, clumsy but yet, artistic and creative, possessing an unsurpassable imagination. She had just watched the latest rerun of her favourite TV show, as she did as often as possible in a time void of Netflix and TiVo. Watching in amazement as her heroine leapt tall buildings in a single bound or how, in a pulse of light she transformed into a statuesque beauty in red patent leather boots – clearly the most sensible of footwear in which to battle evil. The little girl snuck into her father’s workroom, found some yellow rope, the kind he used to tie bikes and shovels to the garage wall. It was rough on her dainty little hands but she ignored that, instead, imagining it to be her lasso of truth! Running around the house, subduing the family golden retriever pretending him to be the greatest threat the world had faced, one that only an Amazon Princess could defeat- her of course. Saving the world one beast at a time in blue underwer, red socks a yellow tank top and adorned with a golden construction-paper tierra with a meticulously placed red star in the centre- the finishing touch. She was Wonder Woman. She made up stories and adventures saving puppies and people alike. And she secretly closed her eyes at night and hoped that this would be the final time she fell asleep in her body- waking up in the right one.
She continued on until one weekend her father posed a question that would ring in her mind for the next 30 years, “Do you want to be a girl?” In her head, she screamed “I am a girl, I am! Why can’t you see that – help me, daddy.” she remained silent, focusing instead on the itchy tan carpet between her toes, commonplace in the 1980’s. Her father continued. “Want me to cut off your penis so you can be a girl.” he chuckled. Her mother rolled her eyes and the little girl, well she kept inside her truth, she hid her voice, she willed herself to disappear. ” No.” she laughed an uncomfortable, but otherwise convincing laugh.
I concealed that little girl for years. I hid her like I did with that golden lasso and my mother’s undergarments under my mattress. I pulled it out every so often confirmation of who I truly was. I literally hid my icon of truth in a place so close yet just out of sight. From afar I envied all the other girls who were living their lives, dating the right kind of boys, growing into women – a gift I was denied. I felt cheated, attacked and betrayed by my own body which by this point was growing into something I despised. I allowed misleading attraction and toxic hormones to drive the next multiple decades of my life until I could no longer stand who I saw. I created my own pulse of blinding light and just like Diana Prince, I transformed into my own Wonder Woman.
Join me each week as I tell the story of the little girl with the golden lasso.