I love language – the vibration and variety of it, the way words can express what I feel. I used to tell my students that writing poetry gave the poet the chance to hide in plain sight – use words that had meaning for the poet which others might not get at all. Language has been that for me. And yet I know that language is also a trap for me. I know that I can hide behind words. And I know that, at heart I feel sad that what I truly enjoy is sometimes also a trap. And yet, I can’t not use words through writing to express who I AM.
I am becoming even more comfortable with that conundrum. I do not feel that I have to let go of language in order to avoid the potential language has to entrain me. And that is particularly true when I consider the impact some words have had on me. Like many young girls as they mature, I began to equate my sense of worth with my body image. I wore ‘fat girl’ with shame. And I equated intelligent with being a threat to others. I can’t count the number of times I was told that, if I wanted to be attractive to boys, not only did I have to have a great body, I could not telegraph the fact that I was smarter than they were. To do that was social suicide, I came to believe.
I remember the impact being told I was selfish has had on my in my life. When I was growing up, one of my sisters told me that the problem with me was that I was selfish. I wasn’t supposed to put my own needs and wants and expectations first. Only after everyone else had been heard could I allow myself to be heard. Only after everyone else’s needs had been attended to could I expect mine to be looked after. And I wore that word – all the negative, pejorative energy, for a very long time. And even when I knew that I had to be selfish and answer mySelf first so that I could then have the energy to work with others, I know now that I didn’t do that in all of my aspects of my life. And I know, too, that I still held that there was something ‘wrong’ to choose that.
Over these last few years, I know that I’ve given mySelf permission to be selfish. Now, I’m aware that how I feel about that word ‘selfish’ isn’t the same. In fact, I don’t feel that I’m being selfish at all. I’m simply listening to mySelf and putting mySelf first in my life. That’s not selfish, that’s the birthright of each of us.
So, take the time to consider the impact on you of the words which you and others have used to describe who you are. And decide for yourSelf if the words really resonate with who you know yourself to be. And if they don’t, then you can choose differently and let the energy of those words fall away.