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The truth is
I only barely escaped
a place of fear
on my way here

fear of falling short
fear of never
being good enough
fear of living
in the shadows of
everything I will never
do right
fear of the weight
of the words of my elders
crushing my future
ashes of expectations
prophecies that have a way
of fulfilling themselves
as soon as they are spoken
like poison
waiting to be inhaled
into the unprotected heart
so hungry for affirmation
so hungry to believe
and believing so willingly
what I am told:
that I am selfish
that I am irresponsible
that everything I touch
will fall apart
and everything did
fall apart and became
that crushing fear I
have come to use
to define myself
under their critical eyes

and the truth is
a part of me will always
call that place home
and confuse that fear
for comfort
and crave it

but I escaped it, once
I escaped it
and bringing you into this world
is an act of courage
I thought I could never
afford to make
and loving you makes me brave
and loving you makes me
want to reach for
what was once impossible
for my small soul

and I pray that if
I could give you just one thing
it would be this,
an audacity of spirit

and if I ever
indulge in the injustice
of succumbing
to the old voices,
and if I ever let their
tainted echoes touch you
and make you feel less
than all you can be
you, my stab at heroism
you, my brave
please forgive me
please forgive me

“Beautiful Mommy” by photographer Jennifer Ruzicska


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