It’s me, Emma.
You’ve been telling me who I am for a long time now. But I thought it was time I said something back.
Feels like we’ve known each other – well, forever. But tell me,when were we first introduced? Was it at infant school, when I wet myself during story time? Or when my next-door-neighbour caught me stealing strawberries from her garden? Was it when my body started changing? When my boyfriend broke up with me? Or …have you always been there? The knowledge that I’m not the person I want to be. The body and the feelings I can’t keep in. The hungers and the neediness I can’t control and I can’t disguise?
Is it just me you’ve hit on? Or are you there with everyone? Do they feel you too: stinging their eyes, burning their throats? Whispering when they start to feel good. Dragging them back when they try and reach out.
“Who do you think you are? You’re nothing and we both know it.”
“What makes you think you can do this? You can’t. You should be ashamed for even trying.”
Sometimes you speak through other people. “You’ve let this school down. You’re a disgrace to your parents.You should never have been born. I wish I’d never met you. I wish you could see how ridiculous you look.”
Sometimes you’re on TV. “This is what a real woman looks like. This is the shape of a mother. A daughter. A lover. A wife.”
Sometimes you roar. And sometimes, you hum.
Sometimes I listen. And sometimes, I try to drown you out.
I bought make-up to cover you and clothes to hide you. I sprayed you with perfume and draped you in silks.
I fed you. I starved you. I cut you. I screamed at you till my voice gave way.
But you stayed. And whatever I did, you were watching. Waiting to catch me out.
So what’s changed?
Well, on one level, nothing. I’m the same person I’ve always been. I lie and I cheat and I hide and I’m afraid.
Your words can’t harm me in the same way. Because I’m known. And not just by you. Someone else has seen me; seen through my masks, seen through my tears and my glitter and my smiles and my despair. And He doesn’t see what you do. He doesn’t say what you do. He doesn’t tell me to cover up or try and fix myself. He says, “Come. Be with me. Give me your shame. Give me your despair. Rest – and be free.”
So. I guess this is goodbye.
I know I’ll see you around. And there’ll be times when you try to move back. But as from now, your room has been taken. You’re outside my head – and when you try to get in, Someone else will answer. They’ll tell you, “I’ve seen you before, remember? I nailed you to the cross. I defeated you – and you have no place here with my child.”
Don’t ever come back.