most of the time my skin feels like an extra layer that seems wholly unnecessary were it not for the small caveat of existence.  like jewelry or panties or bras or a hair tie.  they come off at night, all of them; i flung them desperately across the room, freeing myself from the oppression of the physical.  this also extends to relationships.  anything that perturbs, disturbs, lessens, i want to shed immediately, afraid that its toxicity may poison me, wholly unaware that the poison is quite possibly, well, me.  it is no secret that my thoughts often turn dark.  it’s a game they play everyday, at times when i least expect them, when my confidence has slowly regained strength.

it’s a game they play, i say, when it’s really me.  my thoughts are mine alone and yet, how am i “othering” myself?

a lifetime ago when i was freshly six years, my cousins, sisters and i spent our summer days at the neighborhood pool.  we were back then honing in on our social skills, interfamilial and expanding them deftly towards the neighborhood kids.  sleek wet bodies, the smell of chlorine, the sharpness of the sun in our eyes, our blackened skins stewing in the waters, sun chips laid out stale on pool tables.  being the youngest of the bunch i was largely ignored.  no one wants to play with the baby.  she is delicate; one wrong move and she’ll cry to mama.

except there was nothing delicate about my soul even in those formative days.  i still felt the pang of mild, unintentional rejection and my thoughts told me they were anything but.  one lonely afternoon as my cousins and friends cannonballed onto the deep side of the water, i was tired of “trying too hard.”  i was tired of trying to fit in and trying to understand their cool middle school jokes.  i was tired of trying not to be invisible.  clearly i was.  clearly no one saw when i took my hand off the rail because there was a “turtle in the pool!” and no one came to check.  i would prove there was a turtle and show them.  i took my hand off the metal railing in the wading water and sunk to the bottom, curious little bubbles emerging from a tiny mouth as i screamed bloody murder in the silence.

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