I Will Not Let The Words You Hurt Me With Define Who I Am

girl surrounded by neon
Louis Amal

You called me paper. What are you, paper?”

You asked me, laughing after pushing me into a wall. You thought it was funny that I hit the wall hard with my shoulder and tripped and fell over. Is it so entertaining to treat someone so fragile like an object? Or a sheet, that can be created into anything; a paper crane, a story, confetti? Perhaps I am paper. But not the kind that you scribble a couple words onto, just to tear out of your book, crumble in your fist, and throw carelessly to a wastebasket. I am paper, created by trees that have held the sky up in place, trees that whisper and scream when the wind blows, and trees that protect and shade. I am paper used to kindle a fire. My edges fray and blacken. They turn into ash. I am warmth and strength.

You called me crazy and a disaster.

My first anxiety attack in front of you made more hurtful words explode from your list. I am a disaster, but the most beautiful kind. I am an anxiety attack at twilight, when the world shakes with earthquakes, breaking mountains into fragments of vulnerability. I am a torrential downpour of tears when my sadness hits, and my tears drop like boulders off cliffs, creating white, foamy splashes in the ocean. I am the thin atmosphere on mountaintops, the kind that makes you feel like you’re losing your breath. I am my trembling hands squeezed into small planets, buried deep inside the black hole pockets of my oversized coat. I am Kepler’s supernova, with bits and pieces of me, my heart, strewn all over galaxies. My vulnerability and my power make me every drop of rain, every bolt of electricity, and every new leaf that sprouts in the spring.

You told me I was “such a girl,” when I tried to tell you about how much women needed to be appreciated, loved, and respected.

But what kind of insult is that? I am proud of my soft body, and the heart I wear on my sleeve. I feel honored that I was forged in my mother’s body, on which she proudly wears light tiger stripes that cover her belly. A woman’s body, her life, is precious. It is with her that life is created. It is with her that children grow up loved and cherished. I am “such a girl.” I will always be this girl. My mother carried me for nine months. She has loved me for longer. My heart was created and built by her. My heart cannot be so easily broken by shallowness. I am a daughter made of true love and a mother’s hold. I am a sister of protection, and I am a friend of support.

You said I wasn’t worth it.

You said I was both too much, and not enough. But I believe I am. Is it so wrong to feel so much? Is it wrong to be so in touch with my emotions that I can express my empathy and support for all? Is it scary that to be around someone who is fearless of saying what is on my mind, and unafraid of showing it? I am more than enough. I am spontaneous adventure, and I am quiet nights with a mug of tea. I am words of affirmation, and a touch that exudes affection. I am worth more than my body in bed, because I am so much more.

I am more than anything you could have ever called me. TC mark

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