In all the wrong ways.
Yes to little boys who wanted to see beneath my clothing. Yes to the guilt and pain of adults whose lives weren't going the way they'd dreamed. Yes to fumbling teenage boys who wanted to explore and exploit my body, which blossomed with womanly curves while I was still a child. Yes to the burden of strangers and family. Yes to the anxiety and shame and fear of other people's mistakes. Yes to anyone who promised, pretended, to love me.
Yes in perilous and broken ways. With trembling and falsely confident steps.
Until I learned to say no. Until some crucial component of my core broke free and knocked around inside my body until it settled in my heart and mind. That struggling little revelation opened me up to my truth. And my truth is that my body is mine and should only be used in ways that make me happier, my decisions and beliefs are mine and should never be used to validate or invalidate someone else's choices, and my heart -- that valuable and broken center -- deserves nothing but honesty and protection from those who surround it.
And so I am a No person.
I say no in proud and confident ways, heart singing and hands open to those around me. I say no to shame and guilt and fear -- the kind others try to place on me and the kind I try to place on myself. I speak and act with intentions that are true and loving.
When I throw my head back and bask in my husband kneeling in front of me, his kisses praising each stretch mark etched into my soft belly that cupped and protected his daughter.
When I resist the deep training to rush in and fix, overlook, make better, the consequences of someone else's reckless and irresponsible decisions.
When I stare into my own eyes in the mirror without flinching and see nothing but my own admirable, amazing, and authentic self, a self that was almost crushed under the weight of those long years of yes.
When I open my mouth and say yes, yes, yes to all the feelings and actions that fill me with light and hope: blowing bubbles with my wolfgirl, watching my sweet boy canon ball into crystal blue water, opening myself to my husband's strong body at the end of an averagely hectic day, the sun on my skin as I float through the morning after...
To these and more, I will always say Yes.
**This post is part of Five for Ten, where we're giving each other five minutes a day for ten days. Won't you join us?**