But the compliments didn’t feel like compliments when my body language communicated I didn’t want to be looked at, didn’t want to be spoken to. They didn’t feel like gifts when they were thrown at me or whispered so only I could hear. Every comment translated into, I like what I see and I want it. But I don’t want it, I don’t want it, I thought.
I survived because I remained soft, because I listened, because I wrote. Because I huddled close to my truth, protected it like a tiny flame in a terrible storm. Hold up your head when the tears come, when you are mocked, insulted, questioned, threatened, when they tell you you are nothing, when your body is reduced to openings. The journey will be longer than you imagined, trauma will find you again and again. Do not become the ones who hurt you. Stay tender with your power. Never fight to injure, fight to uplift. Fight because you know that in this life, you deserve safety, joy, and freedom. Fight because it is your life. Not anyone else’s.