There are pieces of me so deeply ingrained that I don’t know they are there, that I can’t put them into words.
They are probably easier for others to see and acknowledge than they are for me to. And it’s because I am still discovering who I am. Putting a word to a feeling, shaping a characteristic from a pattern of behaviour.
I have been many people; I am many people. And I am still teasing out the strands of my own life.
When people meet me for the first time, when I am a stranger, they see a single thread. With time, if I let down my walls enough, they see more threads as I unwind.
There are always stages. First, I hold back. I allow them to pull on the rope a little. Then a little more. And eventually there is no ball of string left in my hand. Everything has been unwound. They know me. Sometimes better than I know myself. And I assume that they also understand me.
That they respect the person who I am and what has made me.
That what is important to me is as clear as what is non-negotiable.
That they can see the invisible cues for when I should be pushed, and when I shouldn’t.
That they can detect the body language for when I have given as much as I can without losing myself. And for when they are taking so much that I will be left broken.
Too often too much has been taken.
Like the jigsaw puzzles I love to pore over in my free time, I am left to reconstruct the border of my life.
Each time it is a little more difficult, more painful. Almost as if my eyesight is failing me. As if black and white silhouettes have replaced the technicolour of life.
In a world devoid of African sun to burn away the shadows and interminable rain, the grey lingers longer.