I grew up wrapped in layers of “shoulds” and “mustn’ts,”
I have spent many years disentangling myself from their gauzy grasp,
trying to stand free and strong.
This journey necessarily started by leaping out
and away from the path
that had been set before me by my loving, kind, patient mother.
She designed a happy web of rules to keep me safe,
and to lead me onward,
marching dutifully toward the eternal salvation she so comfortably believes in.
I once believed, too,
but there was no room for me in that structured world of black and white.
I am all the shades in the spectrum
from pure white,
on through all of the rich red-orange-yellow-green-blue-purples
to the deepest shade of absence of light.
I have a bit of everything in me,
and I have spent too many years feeling broken
because of those nuances of brilliance and opacity.
And now I know that if the god my mother so firmly acknowledges
is a real being in any sense,
that he/she/it could not possibly want me to be unhappy
through my inability to reach the mostly arbitrary standards
set by some old white dudes in Salt Lake.
But before there was relief and acceptance and joy,
there were the years of uncovering those varied shades on my soul,
like all the strokes of Monet’s brush,
layered over each other in one girl-shaped palette.