You asked me to come over the other night so we could talk about “my behaviour.” We met in the crisp winter air and a chill other than the cold ran down my bones in the way you looked at me. When we walked in, I recognised this for what it was. This was the “ultimatum” conversation. My heart raced trying to think of the things I had done which warranted this. I couldn’t think of a thing. I tried to remember in panic if it was something I did. Then you began to speak. And slowly my heart began to turn inside itself.
You see, you weren’t angry at something I did. You were angry at the something I was. You didn’t like the way I wore my hair, or the fact that I wore sneakers everywhere. You didn’t like my giggle, or the fact that I spent too much time on my work and not enough on you. You didn’t like the idea of my having any guy friends. You didn’t like the weight around my hips, you said you found them too big. You laid every single one of my personal insecurities bare. You didn’t like how I spoke, and how I underpronounced some words. And the biggest change you wanted, you didn’t like that I was a different religion from you and wanted me to convert to yours. In the end, you looked at me critically and said, “So if you just change those things, I’ll be happy to continue this relationship.”
Two years lay smashed on the floor between us, like an endless chasm made of glass. I felt humiliated, and embarrassed and for a second, I almost nodded. I almost thought you were worth more than my pride. I almost considered you were worth more than my own faith.
For only a second though.
Something hammered inside my blood that was like a song. Something sang beneath my skin with urgency reminding me who I was. Something told me that what I am, I could never give up.
No. I would not do this. I would not give up who I was for you. So what if I underpronounced words and my hips were a bit big. So what if I giggled, so what if I wore sneakers everywhere. And how dare ANYONE ask me to change the way I believe in my God? My God who I consider intensely private and don’t even speak of to my mother. My God who had never failed me yet? These things were a part of me and I wasn’t going to give up myself for someone else.
So I looked into your eyes and I said, firmly. “No. No I will not give myself up for anyone. Someone will love me for the softness of my hips and the swell of my giggle. Someone will find the under pronounced words cute. Someone else will love the way I speak. Someone else will love me for who I am, and most importantly will respect me for my faith as it is between me and my God. And you? You can find someone who loves you, someone who will let you make them into a perfect version of what YOU want. Sorry, but I would rather just be me.”
As I walked away from you for the final time, the crisp winter air felt warmer and my heart lighter as I said to the night sky, “I would rather just be me.”