“Are you okay?”
“What can I do to help?”
Sometimes, when you’re trapped within your own mind, it’s hard to have that tunnel vision everyone else seems to have, or advises you to acquire in desperate times. Instead of a tunnel, it’s a hole. You see the light, at the end but it’s a long way up, and you can’t see any way back up in the dark.
I was supposed to talk to you guys about this last month, but I was in my hole. I couldn’t see any way out of my own head, so I just waited to be buried alive inside.
My dad always made it point to let me know that I don’t need no man to be a successful woman. And he’s right. He made it a point to make sure I knew that I could always be better. And again, he’s right. There’s always room for improvement. But he also made it a point to not care about the small details that make up who I am. He made it a point to make sure I knew that I better not talk to him unless it was important, and most of the time, I didn’t really have anything important to talk about.
In retrospect, I see that he only wanted me to become the woman I am now, then. One who can articulate her thoughts of the world and its secrets, what it means to her, and how she plans to move within it. One who sees the world for what it really is, the good, the bad, and the hella ugly.
But I wasn’t thinking like that at all growing up. I was more worried about talking about how this girl was dropped on her ass at cheerleading practice, or having sleepovers with my friends the coming weekend, so we could watch Bratz movies and eat popcorn and sweets and talk about the boys we liked, the clothes we wanted to wear, and the latest episode of Hannah Montana.
I didn’t see the world’s dirty secrets creeping at every corner. So I didn’t see why my dad didn’t care about much of what I did, unless it was me winning an award. He didn’t see much of what went into what I accomplished, just what I needed to be better in. And if you know my father, you knows that he is a hard core man. No bullshit, no nonsense. He told you the whole truth and nothing but the truth, only if he thought you could handle it. And most of the time, nobody could handle it, except maybe my mom.
I was never able to handle it. Each dismissal and critique struck harder than the last. I walk through life now wondering if I’m ever going to be enough. For the world, for the ones I care about, and I care for just about everyone. I don’t know what it feels like to be pleased with myself, because I was taught that I shouldn’t be. I can’t tell when I’m doing well, because all I see in this hole is how far away the top is.
Don’t get me wrong I love my dad. He’s taught me how to look for and find the secrets the world loves to hide, and how these secrets affect those who inhabit her surface. I love him because he taught me how to live.
I just never found myself.
I don’t know how it happened, but I became the world. I became the one with secrets, and I came across one who wanted to figure out what my secrets were. Secrets that I tried so hard to bury with myself, in my mind. I didn’t even know I had secrets, to be honest. I used to think that I was an open book, that I wore my heart on my sleeve and my empathetic nature was obvious to all. But there was more to me than even I knew, secrets to me that I didn’t even know I had, had this one not peeled back my layers, looked around every one of my corners, and took the time to analyze me. Just as I did the world.
I have a very small amount of friends who’ve been consistent in my life. It’s normal, friends come and go like seasons. But it was something about me that allowed these temporary people to walk off with a piece of me. Pieces of me I feel like I can never get back, permanently damaging me. Y’all thought I was gonna say “changing”, didn’t y’all? No. I allowed myself to get hurt more than any logical person would. I gave my all, until I had nothing left.
Nothing but secrets.
Dad, I don’t need him to succeed, but I need him to help me find myself in this dark hole. I hope you understand.
It’s not just tunnel vision. It’s night vision. You have night vision. And every day you challenge me to acquire it for myself. That this isn’t something I should just already have, but something I can develop. To be able to see my way in the dark was something I could never do, but you do it so well. I can’t wait for that to rub off on me.
Sometimes I think about why you even bothered with me. I see myself as a lost cause because of how far deep I’ve dug myself. But then you uncover another secret of mine, and you cherish it. You show me how to use this secret of mine, to light up my way out. These secrets of mine are not to be buried and hidden away, but to be articulated and considered. I feel enough.
Just like how I see the world, you see me. The good, the bad, the ugly. I’ve never had someone show me myself for who I really am. The good, the bad, the ugly. But what you do is that you show me that it’s all beautiful, everything that I have buried inside of me. The good. The bad. The ugly.
You know I’m not okay. But you know that there’s always more to uncover. You didn’t give up on me.
“Are you okay?” becomes “How are you baby?”
“What’s up?” becomes “What you thinking about?”
“What can I do to help?” becomes “Here, do you need ____?”
And then I see my secrets being stripped from me like weights off my shoulders, and turned instead into pieces of me that fit the holes that were bored into who I was by those who didn’t see me as the world, but as a tool to do its bidding.
I don’t need a man to be successful. But I do need you to be the friend I’ve never had. Friends are meant to be there to help you grow as a person, no matter how permanent or temporary they are. They’re always supposed to teach you lessons, teach you about yourself. In a matter of two short years, you’ve become my very best friend, from the moment you jumped into my hole with me, until now.
Sometimes I feel bad that you’re in this with me, but you remind me that you’ve chosen to be in this with me, so we can both get out of this hole and see the rest of the world together. To show me that my life is worth loving. To show me that my life is worth living.
I’m a month late, but Happy Valentine’s Day dad. Thank you for showing me how a man is supposed to take care of his family. For showing me how it’s important for little girls to know what it’s like to be loved by their papa. I love you.
I’m a month late, but Happy Valentine’s Day to my man. Thank you for being my very best friend. Thank you for showing me that I don’t need a man to be successful. That all I needed was a little patience, because all it takes is for me to see that my flaws are what make me beautiful. Thank you for not giving up on me. I promise we’ll be out of my hole soon, because there’s nobody else I would rather see the rest of the world with. I love you.