Upon reflection of my childhood,
I recall masks built for my survival.
Lovingly crafted to camouflage –
Among those who cherish more than anything,
To debase, devalue, control.
I had to protect my authentic self –
From the childish changes imposed upon me,
So that I could better fit your world.
You could never change me though,
But I allowed you to believe it.
The qualities that made me unique were buried deep inside,
At least they were safe there from you,
To keep me from being exposed as different.
My fears ran rampant of a man with a weak ego and shallow heart,
A man so weak he felt threatened by a child.
A child that wouldn’t follow in his footsteps,
Disregarding his claims for ownership.
I’m thankful for your contribution to my existence,
What a magnanimous gift your sex had been towards creating me.
A gift that I had never asked for, yet was left with insurmountable debt.
A debt that could never be repaid in the eyes of someone with your character.
I detest you a little more behind every layer of my being.
Like a hate-filled onion, peel me back and start to cry.
I’ll become viler the closer you reach to my core.
You were able to teach me many things,
Half were lessons that I had adopted,
Half were lessons in living exactly contrary –
To the ways in which you lived.
That left me with feelings of disgust and embarrassment.
Yet it’s amusing that your arrogance,
Would take the credit for all of my success.
But if I struggled or faltered,
It was the result of me being inadequate or someone else,
And I no longer mattered.
How did you feel when I finally revealed myself to you?
The easy-going, but very angry me.
No longer the easy child as you once said,
Who shuts his mouth and nods to your foolishness.
I was the one spitting venom and you deserved it all.
This venom had been building inside for years,
Until you had presented my opportunity to bite.
I had never wanted to be like you,
But you had always deserved a taste of your own medicine.
Few ever returned the cruelty that you bestowed upon them,
These past few years had been a struggle,
Since I’d decided to leave you behind.
Not because of it, but in spite of it,
The wounds needed time to scab over and heal,
Growing pains occur in trying to lead a life authentically.
Disregarding a false self in search of something real,
I couldn’t sacrifice the second half of my life,
Living camouflaged to be accepted,
By men so weak and insecure.
The chains upon me needed breaking,
For they were limiting.
Not to protect me,
But to protect you from feeling inadequate.
I couldn’t stand suffocating behind that rubber mask,
The same mask that’s worn by so many others.
A mask created from the fibers of pretense and disillusionment,
To survive in a spiteful and unsympathetic world.
I had peeled the mask from off myself,
And stood there naked to the world,
There was nothing left to hide.
I had expected the torrents of abuse to find me,
To pick apart my flaws from all directions.
Yet no abuse had found me,
And no worse judgment had found me,
Then the judgment that had always been present.
It’s funny how the toxins stopped running through my veins,
When I had finally cut the head from off the viper biting me,
The world was never as vindictive as I had believed.
It was always only you.
You and those others like you that I had accepted as part of life.
I was conditioned to be okay with that.
The challenge of being genuine comes not from the need to create an identity,
But to destroy all the remnants of dishonesty,
To lay naked and vulnerable.
Born pure as you once were,
Resisting the urges to hide.
To own both the good and bad in yourself,
With acceptance, without judgment, with self-love,
Empowering yourself to never be broken,
By the petty hearts and petty words of any other.
Only when the love we have for ourselves is stronger,
Then the love we look for in others can we be truly free,
To be the amazing and unique individuals that we were always meant to be,
And to love others with the same compassion.