Who I am today, is not the person you may remember from the past.
I must ask, have our paths crossed within the last couple years? Have you met my husband? Have you met my children? There's 5 of them now, did you know? Have we had a conversation? Have you been to my home? Shared a meal? Worshipped together? Prayed?
No, no, no. I am not the girl I once was, thank goodness. The maiden version of me, she was doing the best she could, yes. But, her season has ended.
I am finally the woman I was meant to be.
The mother has risen.
Survival mode really drowns a person.
And that's what I spent most of my life in: survival mode.
I was a very quiet child. I loved to read. I remember carrying this bag of Muppet Baby books everywhere when I was a toddler and preschooler. The books were recently recovered after being lost through my countless moves and are again in my possession. I combed through Kermit The Hermit with intense nostalgia. Reading through it nurtured a part of me and I found myself whispering back through time and space to that little girl, We made it out. Everything is okay now. And then I hugged her as I moved my fingers along every illustration on each page. I always identified with the hermit, the introvert.
But that quiet girl, who liked to read, and kept to herself, well, people in my Bay Area school did not like that. It didn't help that by fourth grade I had a college reading level and spent a majority of time out of class in "special" study. When you mix that with my name ("Azia's a continent!"): I was relentlessly bullied. Three instances stick out to me the most, a group of girls who broke into my desk and smashed all of my belongings and tore all the pages out of my notebooks, the young man who pulled a knife on me when I was walking home from school, and, even more terrifying, the neighborhood kids who forced me to look into a metal utility box that housed equipment for the track team at the high school behind our apartment complex. That last one landed me in the emergency room when they dropped the lid on my face. I bit through my bottom lip, I still have the scar, blood was everywhere, my face was black and blue. I blacked out a bit. It was just days before my ninth birthday. Needless to say, there aren't any photos nor was their much celebrating that year.
Home life wasn't any better.
I was being emotionally, physically, and sexually abused. The sexual abuse happened with more than one of my stepfathers (my mom was married multiple times), as well as assaults with other children and boys and things that would happen later in life that would stay with me always.
And then puberty hit.
By this time, we had left California, and were living in a suburb of Minneapolis. I was a very early bloomer.
By 7th grade, I had a c-cup breast size. I spent that year, and most years after that, being consistently bullied for my body, degraded, and slut-shamed.
By 8th grade, I was the first girl to get her belly button pierced. Oh, man, did that make people mean. I gave a speech on the sexualization of popstars in the media, showing a VHS recording of Britney Spears dancing around with the snake at the VMA performance of I'm A Slave for You, followed by photo after photo on the projector of scantily clad female celebrities and made it a point to say We are expected to be sluts and then shamed for it. I was a natural public speaker. I nailed that speech. Some of the boys were scared of me after that.
I slowly began to shed my naturally soft and introverted ways when I discovered that people didn't pick on the people 0they were afraid of.
The summer before ninth grade I pierced my tongue.
You think I'm a slut? I dare you to say it to my face.
That attitude became my signature.
By ninth grade, my mom had left and I was living with her ex-husband and his creepy brother.
I slept with a knife under my pillow. I frequently stayed overnight at friends houses and even boyfriends. I started smoking and drinking, using marijuana to numb myself out. I was depressed and doing everything I could to survive high school and turn 18 and get control of my life.
I wasn't given the opportunity to do extracurriculars or the like. I had always dreamed of playing the violin and being on the swim team. Instead, I worked fulltime at a diner downtown. First, as a dishwasher, then a host, and was waitressing by the time I was 15.
My senior year, my boyfriend was 23!
I remember being 23 (I was a mother by that time) and just being disgusted. What kind of 23-year-old dates a high school student?
I digress. But still, ew.
This, of course, is just a very quick summary of my life and I share this to say that ultimately, I became who I did in order to survive. I was obsessed with going to college because I believed that if I could just get there, I'd have a better life. I was obsessed with leftist feminist ideology because I saw the way men had failed my mother and I never had a father figure in my life and just longed to be safe, finally. And, I acted "hard" so people would leave me alone.
I had walls like crazy.
I did not get close to people easily. I was, sadly, one of those, I'll say, girls, who most people thought was a b-word until they got to know me. To this day, my closest girlfriends, whom I met when I was still that person, would tell you that the first time they met me they were scared of me, or intimidated or whatever.
People were genuinely surprised to discover I was a big, huge, nerdy, softy underneath the persona. That I cried, like, very often. Even during commercials.
Fast forward through all that muck and garbage (sprinkled in with beauty, revelation, grace, life) to today, and somehow, the soft, introverted, real me, has finally fully emerged. The persona? She died with my maiden. I could probably channel her fire if someone messed with my kids or something, but I have no need for her. She served her purpose. She got me through the hell fires and harnessed the strength I needed until I found God, who carried me the rest of the way.
I was taking stock of my ideologies a few days ago and was laughing at where I fall on so many issues. This train of thought was spurred because I was watching a Jordan Peterson talk on Adam and Eve, and I thought to myself, I'm not supposed to like this man. You share anything of his on the internet and someone is bound to chime in about how he's problematic. But I think he's brilliant. And I realized, there are countless people, things, etc... that I love, that according to our call-out, cancel, politically correct, dystopian, capitalistic-but-more-like-feudalistic-hellscape of a society that is deemed bad, or *gasps* conservative.
Me? Conservative? That's hilarious.
But, when we divorce that term from political alliance, because, please, gosh, no, do not associate me with any political party, barf-- I have always been a little bit conservative, I guess. That 8th grade girl who understood that there wasn't much liberation for women under the guise of being a sex object has always been inside me. I have also never been one to post a revealing selfie, dance bottomless on a livestream, or be overtly publicly sexual in general. Society sexualized me before I even understood what sex was. Men took away my innocence before I even realized it existed. And feminism villainized all things domestic/feminine/to the point that I felt shame once it became clear to me that I actually loved being a woman, a mother, taking care of my home, my family and all that entails.
Society was so loud in my ear for so long, that it wasn't until God's voice became louder that I was able to find the stamina and strength to soften into the truth of myself. I often felt like God's forgotten daughter, that He didn't love me. But this is the nature of the fallen world. It's a crapshoot. It's full of pain. But, He's always waiting to hold us when we're ready to return to Him. I am so, so glad that I did.
And, if you knew me once, it might be safe to say you don't know me at all.
Hello, hello. It's nice to meet you.