I Am My Own Muse

Soy mi propia musa. Soy la persona que mejor conozco. Soy la persona que quiero mejorar/

I am my own muse. The subject I know best. The subject I want to better

Frida Kahlo

I haphazardly wrote this quote down over a year and a half ago, thinking I’d come back to it for a blog post in a couple of days. “Tues” is written in the margins of my journal with my favorite gel pen, indicating it was going to be that Tuesday’s post. At the very least I’d start outlining that day. And here we are, 19 months later.

There’s a disjointedly sewn tapestry of a woman forming, as I tug at seams in futile attempts at a do-over of the past. There are gaps, I imagine fabric squares still laid out across furniture, others still tucked away at fabric stores not yet bought, as I’m still learning what makes me feel whole. I quilt myself into the type of woman I want to be, as I form a being I’m proud of presenting.

As I get to know myself better, deciding to focus on being accountable to myself first and authentic to my needs, I come back to Frida’s words.

Healing from sexual violence, attacks on my forever home, sexualization of my pre-pubescent body, physical attacks on my psyche, racial discrimination in hospital care, work, and higher education have all made me question my purpose, if not just this society but this life is for me. I thought I was the rotten apple, because at my core, I didn’t understand what was going on, couldn’t fathom the authority that came with knowledge.

I thought all I wanted was to disappear but what I really wanted was to be found.

What I realized was that no one outside of myself understood the aftermath of my trauma, could understand the craters in my speech as I edited my words and tried to keep up with my hyper-vigilant brain at the same time, who lifted little Nique up in the light of goodness and watched the different sections of a kaleidoscope unfurl and dance.

Sometimes, I think letting people in and saying out loud I was queer saved me. I was able to switch the narrative from qualms about outside perception to agency, autonomy. But it also allowed me to fully embrace an alternative narrative (away from heteronormativity), to validate myself before waiting on someone else’s validation, to accept my innovation and unique way of self-expression. It made me demand the question of myself and from others, “is this (reality) enough for me?”

Growing up, the answer was usually no. There was safety in that. In the negative self-talk that whispered I wasn’t a good enough writer, in the lifestyle and career choices that other folks wanted me to have, in not stepping outside of the comfort shell of work, home, school, back home, bed, back to work I had created for myself. It didn’t allow me to pause, to step outside and wonder how did I truly want to live.

Now, I actively choose every day what is enough, what will serve my needs at that moment, whether my body needs to rest, if I need to release tension from my body with movement, if I need words of affirmation, when I want nourishment (food and also the warm fuzzies from talking to friends). And to not engage with anything not on my level. Ketchup, mustards. Catch up.

What I needed most was authenticity, to show up as I am. To take a snapshot at this moment and have it capture contentment (along with the steady humming of chronic pain), and to have that co-exist with yesterday’s snapshot of a depression paralysis. To love on people out loud without worry of how we’ll be perceived, to wear what I want, while having compassion for the remnants of my brain that still shout fat bodies aren’t supposed to like bold colors and patterns, to caress the dips in my thighs when diet talk at work leads to wanting to binge, to say “today I’m not ok” and know I’m still beautiful.

I am my own muse because healing from trauma allowed me to see the beauty within myself, and use that as inspiration. To connect to the young minds navigating life in darkness and imagining the shadows dancing.

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