Liel (she/they) is a writer, trainer, Psychologist (Provisional) and a disability and justice advocate based in Naarm. Her work is published in ABC Arts, MamaMia, the anthology We’ve Got This published by Black Inc. and Scribe UK, and Hireup, amongst others. Liel was the 2022 editor of Writing Place magazine, and is the creator and host of the (Un)marginalised podcast. She not-so-secretly enjoys singing along to the Frozen soundtrack with her kids, and is somewhat fixated on parenting related humour. Find out more about Liel’s work on her website and follow her attempts to keep up with social media via @LielKBridgford.
I slice a piece of me out and quickly amend the rest, the icing dropping around my layers in the heat of the moment. Presenting myself on an ornamented plate to another, pushing away that piece alongside the feeling of Other.
I taught myself to push things down so well that at times nobody can tell it is happening, myself included. I can even laugh at jokes that the whole of me doesn’t find funny, because that part of being a person doesn’t go together with the rest. It is too complicated, and my father warned a boyfriend once that I like to take the hard way forward.
What neither of them understood, nor ever will truly understand, is that I cannot fit into the easy way. The path they are describing has been created for perfectly made creatures. This path is like the present that someone who doesn’t have children bought my eldest: a narrow and precise marble track. But I am not a marble, more like a kubebah, a word that in my first language means a fat, uneven, hand-made ball-like mass. A kubebah can easily disintegrate, especially upon throwing at something, or someone.
Lots of people are like marbles, and they travel round the track effortlessly, at times carelessly. I have never got on track, not because of lack of desire or the stubbornness my father refers to, nor due to lack of effort. I have laboured to become a marble using any weapon or tool at my disposal: controlling my food intake and energy usage, censoring my language, hiding parts of my physical body, accentuating others, surrounding myself with marbles, acting like I am one. I followed the direction of this track for years, looking up at it like an elevated rail and wondering what people travelling up there were feeling.
I spent the better parts of my life wishing I was somebody else, more marble-like, more perfect or right. And each time I looked up, the shame inside me grew. That shame became so large that it stopped being distinguishable from me, it had invaded all my organs and crawled up from the pit of my stomach all the way up and around my throat.
The best decision I made was to throw myself against some things, and watch me and the shame fall apart just enough so I could see it. It had a dark purple colour not dissimilar to my open flesh, and distinguishable only by its pace. It moved and grew quickly in front of my eyes when we were both splattered on the floor.
Then with the help of fellow kubebahs I collected myself, and left the shame behind. Without my flesh, and in the sunlight, it dries up. When I moved away from the shadow of the marble path and into the open air and sun of my endless possibilities, I set myself free.
People still look down at me sometimes and ask why I am not up there where they are, but now I am moving through my own path, and unlike a marble track, it only goes upwards.
Every day I do a little less cutting out, and serve more of myself to the world as I am: the disabled me, the gender non-conforming me, the immigrant me, the atheist me, the culturally Jewish me, the politically radical me, the dreamer me, the parent me. I am a proud kubebah.