I don’t think I ever introduced myself when starting this page.
I wanted it to be anonymous so I’d never have to claim the darkest parts of me or be the owner of my damage. It’s been months since my last entry.
To call most of my 24th year of life a spiritual blizzard is equally cliche and accurate. Eleven months of internalized winter flurried my norms away. I weathered traumas and misfortunes and incredible surprises. It was humbling, embarrassing, and ultimately, transformative. I realized who I really was when I understood how brutally I treated myself through trauma, and I was disappointed. For all my struggles, I’m still here– better than I was a year ago. I am, perhaps, the best I’ve been in my short life.
You emerge different after survival. A creature more raw, aware of instincts and attune to themselves. That’s how I feel now. I don’t feel “grown up”. I don’t have it all figured out. What I have are my values, my softness, my open heart, and an unending garland of words my mind continues to string. They are here for you. Even if your choice is to reject them or gawk at them or the cyber abyss swallows them whole, I am willing to share them with you anyway.
So here it is, the proper introduction I never gave the first time around:
My name is Marisa. I think my parents knew I’d be (to quote Roxane Gay) a difficult woman, and they spelled it with one “s” as a warning sign to the universe. In actuality, my mother had not seen it spelled “Marissa” until after my birth. I have a poet’s heart, and a politician’s brain– they are always at war with one another.
Much to my teenage self’s chagrin, I live in the Midwest. My love for my home state is hard-won. Through cornfields and adolescent bullies, I turned taunts into something tangible to call my own. I weathered lonely to be loved. I endured to edify. There is a special miracle in being the architect of your own blessings. I don’t feel this way every day, but I come back to it in one way or another.
I am still learning that although love requires sacrifice, I don’t need to sacrifice myself to be worthy of love. Any love that demands the desecration of my spirit is no love at all. And that might make me lonely sometimes. Slowly, I’m understanding that the hollowness of being alone is also the openness of possibility.
This page has blackened to obsidian at times. My head is a happier place these days. My life is brighter, perhaps the best it’s been. But mental health is a shapeshifter. I will never be too confident in my state, only in my resilience when translucent dulls to opaque. But this continuity, is equal parts reintroduction and love letter. An ovation to my community, to my mentors, family, and friends who have been my heaven amidst my hell. Thank you for guiding me home. Over and over again, thank you for reminding me who I am.
I’m not sure there is a purpose to this text. It’s amorphous like the writer herself. I don’t know what my life will be at this point. I’m 24. I don’t know what I’m talking about, or, I do– within the context of my own experiences. It’s easy to be an expert in lives you’ve never lived. It’s easy to dispense advice from a pedestal, never dismounting into discomfort. This blog hails from the mess. These words will be muddy, unkempt, and contradictory. But they are shared now. They have a voice and a light, and I thank you for indulging me in that, if only for a second. Thanks for stopping by.