In a memory from years ago lives a girl in braided pigtails and mix – matched shoes who learned early “different” was meant to be an insult. It only took years of pointed laughter and averted glances for the insult to become armor. Dressing in vibrancy, a little to clumsy for grace and much to quiet for rebellion, the pigtails were replaced with hair dye, the shoes with tattoos.
The same girl learning how to be a woman wrapped different around her shoulders like a cape and strode into a life she wasn’t quite sure how to live. Finding comfort between pages and on a television screen, different was often replaced with anti social and guarded. Words that were meant to hurt had stopped hitting their mark at the middle school lockers, because it’s hard to harm someone who uses different as a weapon.
With a sword at her side, doing what she loved had always seemed so much easier than following the rules. I don’t know where exactly that brave woman got lost. Unlike a movie, it happened so slowly, it was impossible to catch. One morning, the woman who had never once second guessed her seemingly crazy decisions, looked in the mirror and didn’t recognize the girl staring back.
Her sword was broken, cape torn and dirty, and for a moment, a woman who fought depression twice and won, wasn’t sure tomorrow was worth living. I can’t tell you when exactly the sword was fixed. There was not a finalized moment when she stood and remembered who she was. Maybe it was her favorite TV show or maybe it was her family or maybe it was just her – finally realizing that just like different, broken was never an insult.
Still not completely whole and not entirely sure how to walk when she can barely crawl, I can’t tell you when all of her pieces will fit together again. But that girl with pigtails in her hair and different in her genes will return and she she does, shield your eyes.
She will burn.