there was a time when i didn't know shame.

(i'm sure there must have been, there in that quietly happy childhood.)

and then there came that one day that i can remember feeling shame the very first time.

i was bullied into participating in something i didn't want, and afterwards, on the longest-ever drive across town, i remember seeing my reflection for the first time. and avoiding it. my face darkly reflected back to me in the minivan's backseat window.

it was the beginning of the hiding.

i didn't want to see my own self, and i certainly didn't want anyone else seeing that vulnerable not-quite-enough ten-year-old girl. the darkness spoke "dirty" to me, and i let it be branded on my soul. and spent the next couple of decades running the opposite direction, finding ways to be as pure as i could be.

but who was i before that moment? the one confident enough to play the lead part in the musicals, the one who yearly filled out "My Book About Me", with different answers about my aspirations every time, who wrote songs and drew and painted?

here's the thing. the self that i have discovered, my truest self, has been recovered from so much rubble, it's hard to see what went wrong and when. it's hard to see through the dust that never quite settles, back to before. before shame entered and the lies twisted. i remember the after all too well. but the before is only present to me in kindergarten memorabilia and photographs.

the self i have uncovered is so different from how i was [molded] throughout childhood. i mean, i'm an artist! my whole life i was the one saying "i'm not creative". the one who would break out in a cold sweat when the teacher assigned creative writing, because what do you mean i can't just regurgitate facts and get an A?

and i wish i could remember her, that little girl with soft blonde pigtails, and a softer heart; the one who must have felt something, sometime... right? most of my childhood (and adulthood) were entirely numb, for no apparent-to-me reason.

what must she have longed for, before she was told she couldn't have the things she wanted, and she stopped wanting anything, ever?

i can only speculate based on who i have discovered myself to be, now that all the shoulds have been stripped away, and i have been free to embrace my truest self.

and that self? she loves to play, and swing high in the air. she loves to touch and taste and smell and see. she loves to share beauty, to create beauty, to be truthful, to invite others into her world, to snuggle close, to hold and be held, gently. she is brave and strong and lovely and... childlike.

my word this year is RESTORE, and it has been so much about becoming who i was meant to be, which is turning out to be even deeper thanthe girl i once was, because she was not the whole truth about me - precious pieces had already been buried by the time of my earliest memories.

but she is there. i am sure of it. i've seen glimpses, and the more i excavate? the more beauty i find. 

AuthorJamie Bonilla