On the day that I was given the ugliness of someone’s heart, I saw the root of its vine and the anger it tasted of, saw where it began—how it was a thing that was wanted—desired even, familiar.
A thing loved for its strangling, although at first it was almost too dark for me to see it for what it really was.
So much ugliness is just fear wrapped up in skin, did you know?
Fear, just walking around growling, and howling, and softly weeping when nobody looks, and everyone has stopped listening.
But also, on this day, a first for me, I made no excuse for the thing that was forced into my hands.
I simply refused to take it, refused to meet its gaze.
I gave nothing more than my ‘no’, and when I did this—and this was a big, brave mountain of a thing that I did—please understand, when I did this—when I slipped the smallness of that word across the table, I found quite unexpectedly that I had new words to give.
I stood there silently, just waiting until they came to my side and climbed up my legs, up to my heart.
And when I was still trying them out, testing their new wings, a songbird suddenly flew in through that small window called ‘courage’ and settled itself comfortably in my mouth.
It has not stopped singing, since.
— I will not eat your anger or give it my name.
© Liezel Graham 2020.
Image by Owen Yin, on Unsplash.
Sometimes we are given a portion of the ugliness that lurks in another’s heart.
Often, this is simply fear, or anger masquerading as sheer ugliness.
It can take a great deal of courage to say no to it. To not take it up in your hands and eat its bitterness.
No, is a powerful word.
No, is a boundary.
…and sometimes, when you use it, courage blooms in a heart that was afraid to confront, afraid to stand up for itself.
That’s when the songbird sings.