I was raised by rules.
They were really all I knew.
So much so that I didn’t know what I liked, what was important to me, and really, who I was.
If I wanted to be X, then I needed to do Y.
If I wanted to do A, then I first needed to do B.
My interactions with people, especially authority figures were characterized by rules, hierarchy, standards, boundaries.
My interactions with peers were also characterized by rules, unspoken laws of social norms, conditions for belonging.
In a way, it was easy.
Just follow the rules and I’m good.
Just stay within the lines and all is well.
Just do, be, say as I’m told and I’m safe.
It was easy.
Until it wasn’t.
Until it became painful.
Until it became suffocating.
And then, it became the hardest thing to abide by.
All the rules and laws and regulations of how I was supposed to show up in my family, in society, in the world… they all began to feel empty.
They began to feel like I was forced to walk in 4-inch heels all day long, all week long, all year long, all life long.
It began to feel more painful to stay within the lines, than to contemplate the idea of stepping out, than to face the fear of the unknown.
It became unbearable to lie – first to myself, then to God, then to others.
It became shameful to exist, like I was whoring myself out to the people I wanted to be accepted by, loved, and respected.
It became oppressive to my very being, watching guard over my own prison.
Until it stopped.
Until I stopped.
And I declared, Fuck the rules.
And it all became clear.
I didn’t exist for the rules.
I didn’t exist for rules.
They existed and exist for me.
They exist for structure.
But not to cage me, not to pain me, not to strain me.
Not to do anything that takes me out of my element, out of who I am and who I choose to be.
They’re good for breaking once in a while, to remember that my abiding by them is choice.
They’re good for a starting point for trying new things.
Rules are useful.
But they never substituted the freedom, integrity, and worthiness of knowing who I am and being all of me.
They never substituted the fullness of life, of its messiness, its chaos, and its wildness.
Because, in the end, they’re ink on paper.
And I’m the breath, the flow, the current.
Untamed, uncontained (not a real word), unfettered.