I’m retraining myself to be soft in all the ways I wasn’t allowed to be. I’m trying to remember all the things I wanted before I was shamed out of wanting them.

It’s really destructive the wishes we kill in people just because we’re too lazy or fear we’re too incompetent to grant them. In order to keep people with us, we make them believe their inconvenient desires are foolish, shameful, or unattainable, that not only will nobody meet them but that it’s not even safe to have them. My need for softness was seen as weakness; I was instead conditioned to receive praise for toughness and self-sufficiency. I was shamed out of romance by men who made me feel I was an embarrassment to myself for wanting it.

What’s more destructive is that once shamed out of our desires, we will unconsciously reject those who arrive in our lives and try to give them to us or ask them from us, because we want to keep them safe from the world judging their foolishness too. How many times do we see women shaming softness in men because they themselves weren’t allowed to be soft? How many times do we cut people down in an unconscious attempt to shield them from a world we assume will hurt them the way it hurt us? “Don’t wish for that, you’ll be disappointed. Don’t act that way, it’s dangerous. Don’t make me remember wanting that, it’s not safe for me either.”

I’m trying to remember all the things I wanted before I was made to feel so much shame over wanting them that I forgot them entirely. I remember wanting to sing to someone on the phone. I remember asking for nothing but a love letter for my birthday. I can’t remember a time when touch was about making me feel nurtured instead of how much I could weather, but I’m sure there was a point at which I wanted it. I’m calling back in all the parts of myself I didn’t know I’d lost. I’m trying to remember who I was before I was talked out of it. I’m trying to give myself back a world that was stolen from me.

So much of healing is just remembering what’s possible.