To be allowed to be a woman is all I have ever wanted.
I’m learning how to be one, but I’m a bit behind.
You see, I was never encouraged to be a woman or shown how.
As a teenager, I hid used pads in a plastic bag in my closet to avoid being ridiculed and shamed for the universe’s monthly sign that I was, in fact, a woman.
I wore sports bras through high school because I didn’t know how to shop for real ones, and I rolled my shoulders in with my head down so my larger-than-average chest would not stand out.
Any attention I received at home was negative, and therefore, I wanted nothing about me to be womanly or large.
You see, in my house, it wasn’t okay to be a woman.
Any sign of womanhood was berated, mocked, and turned into a song.
My body at home was game for ridicule as I developed, and so was my mind.
For senior prom, I was forced to go with a boy I did not know because I was forbidden from dating but also forbidden from appearing gay.
At 21, I secretly dated a guy I met through a friend. I say, “secretly” because it was a secret.
He was tall, handsome, and a gentle soul.
His gentleness and sense of safety drew me in.
He truly made me feel like Cinderella and never once treated me as anything but.
It was an experience I had not yet had and did not know what to do with.
I kept him a secret for as long as I could until I ran out of excuses for who I was with during the day.
At 21, I was told to get out of my family’s home. I haven’t been home since.
To be a woman is all I have ever wanted. Yet, I am stunted in a few areas.
I don’t date.
Sex scares me.
And I still refuse to have anyone size me when I bra shop.
I want nobody to examine me or to learn my secret that I have no clue how to be a woman.
Since leaving my childhood home eight years ago, I’ve learned a few things on my own and with the help of some close friends.
For starters, I finally learned how to use a tampon.
I also learned that women moisturize their faces and that bras should not be put in the dryer.
Today, I am in voice therapy to work on speaking from my hips like Michelle Obama and am in trauma-informed psychotherapy exploring not having dental care for 14 years, fear of pelvic exams, and my previous belief that my childhood was normal.
Some may say that I have a fractured sense of identity, and I would agree.
However, I don’t pathologize it.
I see it as a direct result of what happened in my life and am now working to heal.
I may still be delayed in many areas of development, but my adult self is beginning to take form.
A leader, just like Michelle Obama.
She’s all I have ever wanted to be allowed to be—a woman.
Now on my own, I can be.