How Do I Protect The Woman I’m Becoming?

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“It is not enough to merely think about our potential. We need to discover it, to live it, to make it a reality.” via Headspace’s app notification via God probably ‘cause, truth. 

The morning light was beautiful in the room as I was getting dressed. On went my orange underwear, my white lace bralette has some form of a long fancy, French name, but all of that was lost in translation for me because I was too distracted standing in my own power and sensuality. Welcome to the world. 

I wiggled into my favorite pair of black jeans, like they were a second skin. My bra peaked through the white top, on top of it all my comfiest grey sweatshirt. I was layers. I was layered. 

This season has taught me to love every single one of the layers. I err on the side of not taking them off for anyone’s sake because it’s too high a risk that I may never get them back. It’s thoughts like these that have found me both asking and being asked some version of the same question  — “How do I protect the woman I’m becoming?” Because when someone is so hard to come by, a once in a lifetime experience of a person, to let them slip away would be to sabotage yourself. I’m not in the habit of that form of self-destruction. 

So, I asked it this morning over coffee. It was a topic yesterday over a late night conversation. Three days ago, with avocado toast between us, we navigated how these women need to show up in relationships, how we set them up for success. 

I want to protect myself from having to take steps back in my growth. I don’t want to lose the parts of me that have developed so wholly because it is pure magic to know that acceptance has always been within my reach and that I’ve finally gotten a hold of it. I feel it every time I extend my arm around to scratch my skin and feel the thin strap of the lace bralette and how it clasps at my back. It’s empowering to know that I can meander with purpose through the world, close contracts, sign deals, and then come home to a safe place that lets me take it all off and stand in pretty lingerie without losing any of that power. 

My journey has found me following in the footsteps of so many strong women. Women who know their way around how healing themselves is the most empowering of experiences, how growing out of the shadows of pain only feeds the soul. For all the times that growth has felt like squeezing myself through two cars’ bumpers as I try to jaywalk across 9th Avenue in the middle of New York traffic, I am rewarded with my own becoming. 

For my perseverance I have been rewarded with boundaries, my own values, a body and mind to call home. 

I inch a finger in between my jeans and the lace of my underwear to scratch at my hip. Every inch of my body is mine. When I think of my mind, of the parts of my soul and feelings that I willingly negotiated out of my being for the sake of others, I apologize to every feeling, to every inch. Beyond negotiating, I forced labor on my body and heart that were just not for them to carry. 

Boundaries now look like clearly stating, "Just because I can meet my own needs, does not mean that I should have to all the time." and “Just because I can bench press 200 pounds, does not mean I’m going to anymore" Shared responsibility, it’s been a rarity in my life — moving forward, a requirement. Because, my shoulders were meant to share weight, not to selfishly claim all feelings, all hurt, suffering, and heaviness as my own. Because all hurt, suffering, and heaviness is not my own. 

To honor the woman I’m becoming is one way to protect the person I am. I can’t compromise myself anymore. I don’t want to. 

To allow her to share herself fully and expect from others to meet her in the middle and to hold them accountable when they fail to do so, it's the best gift I can give her. 

I like that under the layers of clothes there’s underwear that‘s not for all to see. I like it for the same reason that I like that underneath the laughs and the nice words, there are moments of choked silences where some words have to be coaxed out by the right people and the safest of places. 

I want to give myself the permission to find those safe places, those safe relationships, where compromising parts of myself will never be a requirement to belonging because that would not be belonging. 

I breathe in the weight of my acceptance and how it feels like a security blanket. There’s peace in knowing that the deeper I go into belonging to myself the more balanced I’m becoming in all of my relationships. 

This is the woman I’m becoming. I am aware of my pain and also selfish with who I share it with. I am conscious of my power and determined to harness it only for good. I am protective of my space and unwilling to reduce its square footage because anyone who loved me wouldn’t ask me to. I love myself. 

This is the woman I’m becoming. She is worth protecting and to protect her means to set her free to fail some more, to love some more, to live some more. I protect her, so I set her free. 

Because the woman I’m becoming knows that her name translates to resilience and tenderness and power. All on the same day.