Coming Out

Most of my life I hunkered away in caves, hid beneath covers in midday, and tried to clear the blemishes on my soul whose acidic oozing wore away the only parts of me I liked. Afraid to let the sun see them, knowing that revelation would make it impossible for me to ever love myself again. I would wrap myself in my shame like a cocoon and pray long and hard that I would somehow come out beautiful. But death plus death compounded over time does not make life.

A long time ago, and many times since, I heard calls to wake my sleeping soul and stop waiting, to come as I was. A thought as terrifying as crucifixion. Since then I have ventured into the light many times and felt the shameful parts of myself burst into flame, revealed by the light, and it hurts. In the remaining empty spaces, still scarred from burning, life seeps through the cracks. It presses from within me out and I cannot contain it all. That life has made an artist of me.

Here is what it feels like to be that artist:

Have you ever seen a small child who just drew a picture? Didn’t think twice, it just came out. Then with pure delight and not a hint of self-consciousness she ran to show her father. “Look!” she squealed as she thrust her handy work into his face with absolutely no doubt that he would love it. And of course he loved it. He was her father after all, and that made her automatically free, whole, pure in his eyes.

Part of me is that little girl. The other part is still hiding. For that reason, I will seek out all of my hidden places of shame. I will expose them to the light. And I will watch them burn away with searing pain and rich delight because I know what comes next.


About Jacquelyn Barnes

Former English Literature and Writing major at Whitworth University. Spanish Language minor. Browne's Addition Resident. Editorial Assistant at Gray Dog Press. Interested in postcolonial, multicultural, and feminist theories. Former ski racer. Longboarder. Runner. Member of Vintage Faith Community Church (we have no building). Painter. Morning person. View all posts by Jacquelyn Barnes

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