Do You See Me?

Do You See Me?

One day I was dreaming. I was downtown and that particular day I was depressed. I carried shame because I was hurting inside but on the outside I looked okay. I was ashamed I wasn’t looking the best in my appearance. I struggled that morning just to get out of bed. I was hurting deep down. I lost my sister three years ago and wake up missing her. I have bi polar disorder and had weeks of dealing with mania. I lost alot of people I called friend. I miss my sister. I am angry. I am angry at my sisters killer because he caused me and my family pain. I was embarrassed. Not even make up could cover the traces of my tears. Yet despite all of this, I woke up that day and headed to school. I didnt want to.

In my dream, as I got off the bus, I was struggling to keep a perfect appearance. No one really cares. No one really knows what one is going through as they pass them on the street. They walk on by centered in their own little world. But in my little world I was a broken woman in a world full of chaos. Full of people that wear masks all the time. Just like I was wearing my mask. The mask I chose that day was the “strong black woman” mask. I wanted to appear strong and courageous despite the broken pieces of my heart. I wanted to hide it behind a clean face. I wanted to hide it in my hairstyle. I wanted to hide my tears behind make up. I wanted to hide the pain behind a smile.

Despite the mask I was wearing, the broken woman inside was screaming out in pain. I tried the “resting bitch face” mask to hide the rage inside me. An angry black woman is frowned upon. I hid my depression behind the crooked smile mask. Tears don’t look “cute”. All the while I was interchanging these masks, Tanisha was on the inside screaming “Let Me Free”. Deep down inside…… I just want to Be FREE.

What does that feel like? What does that look like? I wanted to know. The first step was taking off the masks. I started to break down. The pain was too bearable to hide. Though I was crying in the middle of a busy down town area no one noticed. It didnt matter though. I was freeing the broken woman inside. Then I looked up into the sky and said to myself again. “I just want to be free”. I looked around with tears in my eyes. No one noticed. Do you see me? I asked out loud. No one saw.

I was discouraged. Im dying on the inside and no one noticed. As I stood there distraught, I felt the clothes was holding me back. My clothes felt like a costume I wore along with my mask. My clothes had to go along with my mask. I just wanna be free. As I took of my clothes one item at a time, the people around me began to slow down. They looked puzzled. Confused. But as I took off my clothes the tears began to stop pouring down my face. I took off my clothes with no shame. As I took of the last item, my panties… FINALLY….. I can BREATHE!As I stood there naked with my dried tears and my smile, people began to stop. They took out their camera phones and took pictures. Some even laughed as they pointed out every scar, every curve, every ounce of fat around my body. My body isn’t perfect. But its mine. So, I stood there proud. I finally felt free. I felt like I was being ME, and didnt care what anyone had to say. As people stared I notice that no one spoke to me. They discussed the craziness on display amongst themselves. I didnt care. I reached down and pulled a sign out of my book bag. The sign read: DO YOU SEE ME?

What this dream taught me is that often we wear masks and costumes and put on a show for others. We try to do everything to hide everything about us. The dream taught me to let myself SHINE from the inside out! Even the pain. I don’t have to hide it and pretend to be strong for the masquerade. It also taught me that people only care when they see something when there is drastic changes. Other than that people are satisfied going on with their lives not worried about what others are going through. I tried to hide my hurt, my bipolar, my scars, all of the pain inside of me behind a mask. I was ashamed of myself and the hurt I felt inside. Yet with every part of those masks and my costume that I took off, I began to reveal the REAL ME. I could no longer hide myself as everyone stopped and stared at me. NAKED AND BARING IT ALL. I was forced to face the public with version of me I hid in private. Yet, it was the most freeing and liberating feeling I ever felt. Despite it all, I want to BE FREE!So here I am today. Sharing a piece of me in public that I keep in private. Here you see me As I Am. No make up, no masks, no fake smiles. Just a part of ME. No shame, no guilt, no fear. Open your eyes. Do you see ME?


© Tanisha R. Coleman and Visions Of A Black Herstorian, LLC 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Tanisha R. Coleman and Visions Of A Black Herstorian, LLC with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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