I had a hard time sleeping last night with the to-do list that comes with Monday’s usual custody swap and an evening appointment for the kids. That and my childhood asthma has been making it hard to breathe as an adult. In the early hours of this morning as I was contemplating all that would be coming with the sun, I started to think about my last blog post. I love myself and yet I’m still hiding behind my blog. I don’t want to diminish the wonderful feeling that in my words, all you get is the voice in which I write. Aside from my last post, and maybe a random other post where I buried a picture of myself in a slideshow, you really don’t see what I look like. Okay, so in recent months I may have shared pictures of me in my childhood or 15 years ago. But nothing too recent until really recently. You don’t really know who I am. I’m hiding. Unless you’re one of my Facebook friends and probably annoyed with the posts that link to my latest ramblings on a daily basis. I really don’t even know how many of my friends read my blog and how many just like the pictures when a post comes with a visual.
If you follow closely, you’ll know that at one point about a year and a half ago, I couldn’t even string together a whole paragraph. I still have a hard time getting lost in a book. Focusing on getting lost comes with the guilt from spending so many years escaping from my family in young adult paranormal romance. I’ve grown in ways that I didn’t expect and yet, here I am, hiding in anonymity. I love myself, and yet, I’m hiding my identity like I’m not proud of the woman I have become.
I started writing under a guise because I was thinking of the damage my words could do to a job hunt. After a conversation with a friend today I realized I really don’t party all that hard. I don’t do anything that is extreme or dangerous that would label me a hire risk. I’m just not that exciting. Hiding my identity was supposed to be about potential jobs, but the reality is it’s about protection and hiding. Loving myself means I get to own up to what I say. Not only is my face on my blog. I am in every single word. I don’t hide behind a pseudonym on Instagram, Facebook or LinkedIn. I don’t hide in other areas. In the most meaningful expression of who I am, I hide the most. This place is my playground and I hide from everyone even though I give the most honesty here. You won’t see a feminist forward or a fur baby moment. This is me. Not borrowed or shared. Just me.
After last night’s post, I realized I was holding onto old fears. I had a blog years ago that focused on being an autism mom. My ex didn’t want me writing about him or the boys and I realized it was hurtful to put my kid’s lives on display for my therapy. I write about my family now as they’re relevant to my exploration of who I am, but I try to be mindful in keeping this about me. I get to be selfish here.
There was a short while where my latest crush and I would talk about writing. I haven’t seen or talked to him in a long while. He is a dedicated writer that will spend time in creativity every single day. He crafted his words for hours at a time in a way that I don’t. My writing comes out in spurts of inspiration. I scribble out a thought and hammer it out in moments before dozing off. I wake to finish my posts. I don’t treat it like a job and he always did, encouraging me to write because he’s just a really great person. He was really uncomfortable with my observations of him. I saw him in a way that was intense and writing about him made me happy with an equally taxing cost to him. In all of the ways a conversation with him made me want to write, he never once discouraged me from what I wrote or how I wrote or even the times I wrote about him. I realized today I was hiding from my words based on a situation with my ex, when my latest crush showed me that the censorship imposed on me was based on someone who no longer matters to me. He didn’t say anything to persuade me of anything. He simply existed as he was in a way that shifted my perspective while healing old hurts. Talented and special.
Here I am.
I was named Yessica by my Dad. He was studying Hebrew at the time of my birth. In honor of the Hebrew alphabet missing a “J” sound, he named me Yessica. It was a name he’s always translated to “God’s Gift.” That’s what I get for making the 7 year old baby a middle sister. I get to be his gift from God.
My Mom chose my middle name, which is Ruth. It’s biblical and I held onto my namesake for so long as I stood in prayer and hope for my marriage. It was the belief that no matter what kind of husband my ex was being, I could choose what kind of wife I would be. It was over 11 months before I realized I was more attached to my role as a wife than I was to the man I married. I get to be someone else’s wife one day.
My paternal heritage gave me a typical Egyptian name and it blends into the legacy of a woman brought into the United States on a slave ship from Africa. Her name was Americus Starks and I’m almost certain it wasn’t a name given to her at birth. I have educators and preachers in my lineage. There was a State Senator. We are Choctaw Indian, English, African American, and Mexican. When my divorce is final, I’m reclaiming my birth-name.
On my maternal side, there is a family that is strong enough to rely on each other through extreme developing country poverty. We are from Thailand and my Dad just informed me we are also Burmese.
I married and gave my children their father’s name. It comes from his Irish side, although the family remembers his Dutch side most. Taking his name was the first fight I lost. I wanted to hyphenate my name or just add his name after mine, but taking his name was important to him. It identified me as his wife. It bound our family under a single name that I adopted as mine with a history to claim as my heritage and a future to forge in the legacy of our children. It was a blessing that became a curse in shame. It is a burden that daily reminds me of the road I’ve traveled and grown strong through. I’m happy that I get to let it go. When I think of the day I had his name covered on my arm with a tattoo of my son’s names, I can easily recall feeling so free and empowered. I imagine my name change will feel like that except getting a tattoo of his name was always my choice while the name change never was. I’m sure it’ll feel better once I get past the paperwork.
I am Yessica Ruth Maher.
I made a contract with myself a few weeks ago: I am a brave, courageous, heart led leader. Whether I lead only myself, or my children, or a horde of people ready to reclaim their voices in the shadows of an experience they share with me, I choose this identity. I am brave through fear. I am courageous through discomfort and pain. I lead from the heart, choosing what is right over what is easy.
I am a daughter to the parents that raised me and the parents that claim me. I am a product of their contributions to my identity and the support they never cease to offer. I am a child that knows love that looks like duty and feels like honor.
I am a sister. We are a combination of blood relatives, step siblings, adopted siblings and siblings through marriage. Our gatherings are huge, but we know that family is bound by duty and we’ll always be there for you, even if we don’t like you at the moment.
I am a Mom. I’m an autism mom. I’m the mother of a sensitive but neuro-typical child. I’m the mother of boys. My firstborn and I survived the baby blues. My youngest saved me from my deepest depression while in my belly. I was a surrogate mother and helped families grow in ways that healed parts of motherhood that ached in painful shadows of comparison that I could never touch in ways that I wanted to.
I am a woman that lived in constant depression from 1992 until I was pregnant with my youngest child in 2006. He saved my life with every tap and jab to my womb at precise moments when our lives were hanging in a precarious balance.
I’m Yessica. You can call me Yessie. Just make sure you don’t forget to call me for dinner.