I have spent a lot of time trying to be enough to people who look like you. And even more, I have spent a lot of time justifying my choices, my actions, and my every move to men who look like you. I spend a lot of time pretending that people who look like you don’t hurt me – that I haven’t been hurt by men like you.
I am both hyper sensitive and deeply affected by men who look like you. Your actions are held to a higher bar – one that you do not necessarily deserve to be held to. And though I cannot hold every person who looks like you to the pain you didn’t bring, it is a space that I operate out of often. It is my first response to blame, condemn, and believe that you will hurt me like the man who looked like you. In your first look, I place on you the pain, frustration, and inadequacy I have felt in those who made me feel that way.
In this frustration, I often run to others who don’t look like you to make me whole again. It never is the same. And when men who look like you are hurting me, I am reminded all the more of how much I want to avoid your affection, embrace, and friendship because I cannot possibly fathom that you can be different.
Until you are. Until I left my walls down, until I allow myself the ability to give you the same human grace and benefit of the doubt that I give to everyone else.
In your hug, I was reminded that I am enough. When I finally allowed myself to believe that you (and others who look like you) could possibly not hurt me, I found that my learned value was validated by your acceptance of me. By choosing to not be another man who looks like you – by choosing to give me the grace, the benefit of the doubt, I felt a security I have never felt before.
Thank you for breaking my harsh and unfair stereotype of you. Thank you for loving me anyway. Thank you for being patient with me as I learned that not every man who looks like you will repeat the offenses of my past. Thank you for being kindly and patiently different.
In you, I learned the hard reality that no one is deserving of our painful contexts, even if they look like someone who might fit into them. In you, I had to learn how to remove my past from my present relationships.
A sister who was healed in your arms