As women, when we’re children we’re taught to enter the world with big hearts. Blooming hearts. Hearts bigger than our fucking fists. We’re taught to forgive - constantly - as opposed to what young boys are taught: Revenge, to get ‘even’. Our empathy is constantly made appeals to, often demanded for. If we refuse to show kindness, we’re reprimanded. We’re not good women if we don’t crush our bones to make more space for the world, if we don’t spread our entire skin over rocks for others to tread on, if we don’t kill ourselves in every meaning of the word in the process of making it cozy for everyone else. We’re taught to sacrifice so much for so little.
By the time we’re young women, we’re tired. Most of us are very tired. Some of us enter a lock of silence because of that lethargy. Some of us lash out. When I think of that big, blooming heart we once had, it looks shriveled and worn out now. When I was teaching, I had a young student named Mariam. She was only 11. Some boy pushed her around in class, called her names, broke her spirit for the day. We were sitting under a chestnut tree on a field trip and she asked me if a boy ever hurt me. I told her many did and I destroyed them one by one. I think that’s the first time she heard the word ‘destroyed’.
Only a breezy July night, my mother and I were sleeping under the open sky. Before dozing off, I told mama that I think there’s a special place in heaven where all wounded women bury their broken hearts and their hearts grow into trees that only give fruit to the good and poison to the bad. She smiled and said ameen while closing her eyes.