I am not convinced. I am also not convinced that I am not damaged or broken, so we talk about what those words mean to me, and how the word "healing" fits in there.
I decided to start keeping a list of things I do that Daman would think qualify as "brave" acts. I am trying to see myself through the eyes of someone who sees me at my worst and pulls the courageous little seedlings out of that compost pile.
Here is today's bravery:
This morning I made a necklace into a choker. And wore it. Why is this brave? When Buddy raped me, he also choked me with his hands. Or maybe it was one hand. My neck couldn’t have been too big at seven years old. He could have put his hand over my mouth, but he didn’t. Of the legacies he left me that remain visible: I can’t wear anything around my throat (choker necklaces or turtle necks), and I can’t braid my hair worth shit. (He also taught me how to braid, using a purple velvet doll with a horse’s mane for hair that I’d found at the dump. I can braid, just barely, but I know nothing at all of the artistic ways of braiding, though I envy the women and girls wearing those beautiful styles.) Today, I looked in the mirror and I didn’t have a necklace to go with the open-necked blouse I’d put on. I took a longer necklace and pulled it up in the back, and wrapped a black hair tie around the excess (my long hair would hide that part). I pulled the necklace a bit tighter than I’d planned, and instead of hanging at just below my collarbone, it hangs in the hollow of my throat. I feel it there, the slight pressure on my skin, every second. It’s a light necklace made of hollow shells and small glass beads with a few pieces of green stone. An Indian man gave it to me when I went to give a reading at Willamette University a few years ago. It's simple and sweet. It is a gift in return for storytelling. It feels like it weighs a thousand pounds. It feels like I can't swallow. In the past, I would have immediately untied the hair band and readjusted the necklace. Today, I looked in the mirror again, and the strand of dentalium looked nice that way – the gift necklace as an almost-choker (not quite). Leave it, I told myself. Leave it.