Who Am I??
That seems like a such a simple question…
Yes, I’m Anne, daughter of NP and GP, sister of six siblings, wife of MT, mother of Natasha and Purnell, Super Admin Assistant by day, and creative planner, writer, and crafter by nights and weekends…but all of this only scratches the surface of WHO I am.
I’ve struggled with that question since I was ten years old. Why ten? Because that was when my body was suddenly thrust from pre-pubescent, pig-tailed little girl to pubescent, hormonal, confused little girl. My body began a monthly torture process that lasted fourteen days, caused me to completely, and painfully, skip the training bra phase to go straight into a b-cup practically overnight, and had boys I had once considered my best buds wanting to literally be my bosom bud.
There weren’t just physical changes. I began seeing boys and girls in the same way. It had always been in the back of my mind before, coming out in crushes on both male and female teachers, classmates, even celebrities. I would quietly swoon over Janet Jackson even more than I outwardly swooned over her brother. I couldn’t possibly understand these feelings before that life changing 10th year, then add all the other stuff from above with that bit of confusion and I honestly don’t know how I made it to age eleven without having a nervous breakdown. I had no one to talk to about these changes and feelings. I didn’t even know any gay or bisexual people. I don’t ever recall hearing either phrase until I found out one of my uncles was gay in my early teens. Even then, I didn’t equate ME with being GAY. Even when I knew that my first kiss was with a girl, because I had kissed boys since then. Gay people only like their same sex…right?? As you can see, it was pretty tough to figure out “Who Am I?” when all of that is going on. So, I did what many sexually confused adolescents did (and do) at that age. I tucked my feelings deep down in the well of denial and told myself it’s just something else wrong with me to add to the baggage of insecurities I was already carrying, which was another thing that kept me from knowing who I was.
By no means do I blame my parents for anything that happened after the 10th year. They had their own struggles and were practically still kids when they married at eighteen. My mom, God bless her, proceeded to pop out one kid after another. She was only twenty-five when she pushed me forth unto the world and I was the fifth out of seven, so you can imagine what physical and emotional rollercoaster she must have been on. She did the best she could with what she was given, which wasn’t much from fun-loving Dad. I adored him and was a Daddy’s Girl but Mom…Mom technically had eight kids if you count what she went through with him, so I knew, early on, whatever struggles I would face I’d do it alone just so I wouldn’t add to her burdens. I spent so much of my child/adulthood trying to be everything she wanted me to be so I wouldn’t disappoint or burden her that I cheated myself out of finding out who I could’ve been.
Unfortunately, that pattern continued into my romantic relationships with men. I thought I had to be whatever and whoever they wanted me to be in order to be happy. I turned into a chameleon, changing my façade to match their ideal companion. Other than very few and very brief encounters with women, I continued to tuck that part of me away. I watched others in my family, much braver than me, accept themselves enough to proudly come out, yet I still stayed quiet. Even when I learned that there’s more to sexuality than straight and gay, that what I felt could be termed as bisexual, there was such a negative stigma to it that I began thinking there was something wrong with me to have the feelings I did.
It wasn’t until I was forty-one when a series of life changing situations culminated in me walking away from a life that I had convinced myself I’d been happily living for fourteen years, in order to figure out why I wasn’t as happy as I should’ve been. Heartbreak, depression, confusion, all sent me into some much-needed therapy where I learned how to replace my chameleon skin with my own custom-made suit of self-acceptance. Where I learned that I’m more than just a daughter, sister, wife, mother and employee. I learned that I am both Leslie (the name my mother gifted me) and Anne (the name I gifted myself) and she is a strong, hard-headed, independent, over affectionate, loving, creative, talented, beautiful, bisexual, Woman of Color that deserves to be loved and treasured no matter who and how she loves.
So…Who Am I??
Simply put…I am ME and that’s all I need to be.