Who am I?

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I carry a small girl on my shoulders. She grips on, her little hands threaded through each other, resembling a heart around my neck. She assumes that I have the strength to carry her. I hope that I do. I have been many things throughout this life. Misunderstood. A wild thing, a hermit, an eccentric. A school mum, a student, a broken girl. I have been a patient, a victim of violence, a train wreck and a phoenix. I have been a scorpion, a lamb and a lion. Reinvention has been borne of necessity.

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My hand brushes the right side of my torso. It is concave, the result of where they took two floating ribs to graft into my spine. The scars read like a surrealist map. This is where they directed her. This is where it led. This is where they operated, and this is what was said. Nobody tells you that anger can be directed into useful avenues. I am not okay with having been broken. I am not okay with not being able to fall asleep. I am not okay with living with chronic nerve pain and having shards of bone and metal piercing into my spinal canal. I am not cool with a lot of things. So unnecessary and nonsensical. The other day, I was sitting on a bench without back support. I tried to hold my frame up, I really did. Panic set in when I realized that I had to move immediately and lay down on the grass. My spine can’t support my weight when seated at a bench! The pain was out of this world when I attempted to. Here are some more labels, healed, a forgiver, getting on with things…


The pain is like rocket fuel, cajoling me to write. I want to help pave a tranquil path for my daughter and her contemporaries. It makes me strive and makes me determined. It is okay to be pissed off. I came to this earth without scars. I have had to design a life that is manageable and joyful, in spite of them. To devise experiences that go much deeper than the levels of scar tissue and adhesions. To have experiences that shoot through them like a laser and reach deep into my soul.

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I have been given a golden key, which only those with wrung-out psyches obtain. It is a marvellous compensation for having lived a dark dream. I am more than all the labels noted above. I have come to believe that labels are meant for containers, not people. I am a woman doing her best. I am a person wanting more for her daughter. I want her to know her worth. I want her to seek validation not from other people, but rather from herself. To trust her own impressions and honour her instincts. We are worth more than a few token labels, you and I. It is a lazy means to describe the intricacies of a person. We all carry a little person on our shoulders, and the way their hands lace around our necks, resembles a beautiful heart.

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13 thoughts on “Who am I?

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  1. A fantastic piece, labels really are not needed, they just make a hard life even harder! Love your determination and your descriptive writing. Keep up the work with your daughter somedays I feel as if my family are the only ones that keep me fighting so hard! 🙂

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  2. You are an amazing person Raphaela and are far too complex a person to put labels on.
    You are a strong woman, a survivor. Despite everything you have been through, and the constant pain that you are in, you are always there with constant love and support for others.
    I wish I had your strength of character, your daughter has a wonderful role model whose wisdom, love and kindness will carry her steadfastly through life.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Raphaela, that came from the deepest place in your heart. You are so right. We are so much more than labels. And it is hard to even label ourselves due to what we see and feel. I am so sorry for what you have gone through and I totally understand and feel that desire of being the person you want to be for your daughter. Perhaps some things cannot be changed at this very moment. But what you wrote what your daughter did on Valentine’s day for you is more than what my kids did for any birthday and mother’s day together. She sees you without labels. I am sure that this is something she learned from you in general 💖

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