So remember when I wrote about how I was up for an Island Literary Award? Well… I took third place!
I’ve never entered any type of contest, ever. There was always too much going on at home to enter any school contests, the way that I grew up forced me to focus on simply surviving – I didn’t have the capacity for anything else.
The piece that I submitted is about the darker currents in my life – growing up with a mentally ill mother and the impact this had on our relationship, how it became frayed and fragmented over time. I open on her funeral, and then in between the footsteps leading me to her coffin I flashback to memories that build the understanding of the complexity of that relationship. All the ways she built me and broke me.
I put some pretty raw things in there. Being ripped from her arms screaming, packing my things into garbage bags, losing track of foster homes, learning in a group home from another kid how to break open a razor blade and self-harm as a coping mechanism. Breaking into her apartment to find out if she’s dead or alive.
I hid these things from the world for a long time. People who know me in the real world are shocked to find out about my childhood.”But you’re so happy and well-adjusted!” I don’t fit the mold of someone with my history. I’ve been told I’m a statistical anomaly. I think this means I’ve done a pretty good job of healing my wounds in the battlefield.
But I was scared of how others would view my history, afraid that they would see my emotional scars as a weakness. I think as I get older I’m learning that all these parts of me make me stronger, not weaker. I’m learning to embrace my story.
So this is really special to me.
Perhaps I’m starting to figure out to how to not just simply survive, but thrive. Although I suspect it will always feel as if I’m making it up as I go along.
It helps that I can buy wine now too.
Anyhow, now I have this award that I can frame and put up on my wall to use as armor against that tiny voice in the back of my head that whispers “cant’s, shouldnt’s, wont’s” in my ear. I can point to it and say “screw you, little voice. I do what I want now”.