Locking away my voice to speak

I Will Speak, and I Will Be Listened To

Why I keep a useless key around my neck.

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When I was younger, my father gave me a lock and key.

My lock was small, no larger than the palm of my hand, and I would have protected it with my life. It's potential mesmerized me. Something so tiny could act as the bridge between the truth I accepted and the truth whose existence I failed to consider.

The lock and key espoused a life of its own, and I treated it as such. This lock would be my companion through school, my companion through work; it would lock away research and my curiosity, safe inside a laboratory of my own design. Of the two keys, one would be my own, hidden behind a painting, or perhaps inside a vase, while the other would belong to my future love. I maintained my idealism in romance and in education and carried it at the forefront of my thoughts. The lock now hangs alongside the keys of my lanyard.

When I was younger, my teacher gave me a book.

My book was thin, reaching the minimum page limit to be bound in hardback. I had written it, after the death of my best friend and cat, Sterling, after I had first been confronted with the brevity of life and the finality of death. These concepts were both alien and all-consuming, and I needed to alleviate the inundation of emotion that overwhelmed me. I wrote my thoughts down, transformed them into poems, and compiled them into a book. And when I told my teacher that I wanted to be an author, she found a program to publish it for me. My poems were awful; today, they are my favorite.

My teacher lost her life to disease years later. I wrote her a poem.

When I was younger, I wanted to be an author. And I wanted to be a scientist. And I wanted to be a spy.

I wanted to speak French and Russian, and I wanted to be a singer. I wanted to play my cello in a symphony orchestra and to be a lawyer. So I wrote. And I researched. And I learned how to pick a lock. And I took French and studied Russian and sang and practiced my cello and debated everything with my parents.

And I lost confidence in myself. Because my dad was transgender, and I lost my father. Because neither of my parents attended college, which somehow depreciated my worth. Because I did not believe I was pretty, or I could make valuable contributions to conversations. Because when I was interrupted by a boy, I abruptly muted my enthusiasm to listen.

But I stumbled upon my lock, my "published" book, my passion, and I remembered how my parents had cultivated my determination, and my teachers, and myself. And, in the words of Tim O'Brien, the thing about remembering is, you don't forget.

So when my mother left home and separated from my father, I remembered how much of my character had been defined by my family. When I entered the International Baccalaureate, I remembered the quality of what I had to say, the value of the perspective and the compassion I brought to discourse. When I read Le Petit Prince, I remembered I was once a child, and I will never truly be a grown up.

So I will use my lock to protect my laboratory, and I will hide my key behind a painting. I will speak in alien languages and travel to foreign countries and smile at people as I give them their change for an iced caramel macchiato, extra drizzle.

And I will write, and I will be published.

And I will love, and I will be loved.

I will speak,

and I will be listened to.

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To The Dad Who Didn't Want Me, It's Mutual Now

Thank you for leaving me because I am happy.
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Thank you, for leaving me.

Thank you, for leaving me when I was little.

Thank you, for not putting me through the pain of watching you leave.

Thank you, for leaving me with the best mother a daughter could ask for.

I no longer resent you. I no longer feel anger towards you. I wondered for so long who I was. I thought that because I didn't know half of my blood that I was somehow missing something. I thought that who you were defined me. I was wrong. I am my own person. I am strong and capable and you have nothing to do with that. So thank you for leaving me.

In my most vulnerable of times, I struggled with the fact that you didn't want me. You could have watched me grow into the person that I have become, but you didn't. You had a choice to be in my life. I thought that the fact that my own father didn't want me spoke to my own worth. I was wrong. I am so worthy. I am deserving, and you have nothing to do with that. So thank you for leaving me.

You have missed so much. From my first dance to my first day of college, and you'll continue to miss everything. You won't see me graduate, you won't walk me down the aisle, and you won't get to see me follow my dreams. You'll never get that back, but I don't care anymore. What I have been through, and the struggles that I have faced have brought me to where I am today, and I can't complain. I go to a beautiful school, I have the best of friends, I have an amazing family, and that's all I really need.

Whoever you are, I hope you read this. I hope you understand that you have missed out on one of the best opportunities in your life. I could've been your daughter. I could have been your little girl. Now I am neither, nor will I ever be.

So thank you for leaving me because I am happy. I understand my self-worth, and I understand that you don't define me. You have made me stronger. You have helped make me who I am without even knowing it.

So, thank you for leaving me.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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To The Dad Who Works Out Of Town, Thank You For All You Do

Thank you for everything you do, I wouldn't have the things I do if it wasn't for you.

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I want to say Thank you. Thank you for sleeping in hotel beds every night. Thank you for eating sandwiches some days for lunch while I ate my pizza Lunchables in my brand new Hello Kitty lunchbox.

Thank you for taking your truck with no cruise control some weeks for work because I wanted to drive your car. I'm sure driving for four hours straight with your foot on the pedal was pretty boring. Thank you for filling up the car before you let me drive it as well.

Thank you for waking up at 3 and 4 a.m. to head out of town to work and being so quiet while doing so. Thank you for adding lunch money to my account while you're over 100 miles away. Thank you for working sometimes 10-14 days straight without a day off. I can never thank you enough for what you do.

Thank you for filling my truck up in high school every Sunday night before you left for work. Thank you for spending your lunch breaks calling and making orthodontist appointments for me. Thank you for taking days off work to take me to some of these appointments. Thank you for always fitting me in.

While being out of town can make you feel like an absent parent, I promise you are not that. You always make sure to call me during the week. If I'm sick and didn't go to class, you call and check on me. You even call and remind me of things I need to get done like returning my rental book.

If it wasn't for you working out of town, I wouldn't have the luxuries I do now. I want you to know I am thankful for you.

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