Chameleon no more…

by winteryder

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Born and raised in a closed religious community, I was adept at blending in and adapting in order to survive.

Differences were not tolerated, conformity was key, being unnoticed was critical to avoiding criticism (or worse). I was born into a herd, an environment where women wore long skirts and loose clothing, long hair and were loudly and openly shamed for any weight gain (or sudden loss).

I didn’t fit in. I opted for the solitary chores, the feeding and care of animals who were far more predictable and trustworthy than humans. I loved animals. Fearlessly, devotedly and happily. Chores weren’t “work” when they involved the care of a creature who reciprocated my attention simply by being happy to see me.

I hid myself beneath layers of clothes, only occasionally breaking out of the mold to challenge the rules and regulations **gasp** (by wearing jeans WITHOUT a billowing shirt to cover me from shoulders to knees). It never went well.

And I was excommunicated. So there’s that.

Twenty years, two (failed) marriages, one teenager and a whole lotta living later… I’m growing into this beautiful, quiet space in my own life: coming home to myself.
I’m not defined any longer by religion (or lack thereof), by my hair (or its current state of faux-hawk), my gender (or the fact that I’m hybrid | gender-queer), my relationships (past, present or future). I am, for once, for always… simply me.

It’s minimalism at its finest. No artificial sweetener, no trappings, no “frosting”… just strong, beautiful, creative, distinctive, authentic… me.

I’ve lost relationships over it. I don’t fit in anyone’s box, anyone’s mold. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. I can wear the same damn pair of pants every day for a week, wash them when they’re dirty, and wear them some more. Because they’re my favorite pants. I can wash my hair in two cups of water and it fits under any helmet (climbing, cycling, kayaking) without fail.

I don’t fit in “women’s clothes”. I don’t fit in “men’s clothes”. When I chose my clothes, they become mine. And that is all. I chose them for durability, for their fabric and fit and function. I wear clothes that stand up to hauling all my water in five gallon jugs to a little dry cabin. Clothes that fit when my quads are pumped from bike commuting to and from work.

I can’t pay my bills with other people’s opinions, and I’ve slowly learned to let myself off the hook of caring quite so much what someone else might think.

I’ve pared down my personal belongings to just the items needed to truly live the life I have. In this process, some of my friendships have simply fallen off the table. People who don’t stay in contact for months on end, whose very presence in my heart-space has become dark and dragging… I’ve learned to let them go. Let myself grow.

There are days when I wobble on these things, when I frantically look about for a way to just “be normal”, just “fit in”.

I soften, I laugh, I breathe. And I remember that what matters most is how I feel about me.

These days, I’m liking me. A lot.