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It's Shanti, your queer baby sister here! 

Ashanti Marshall is a digital archivist, experiential writer and staff scribe at For The Scribes, spearheading Recovering Softcover, an advice column catering to writers and their inner woes within their craft and themselves. Based in Chicago, being a fat, black queer and femme moment in time. Their relationship to the practice of understanding makes room for explorations, experimentations, mistakes, failures and curiosities in their writing. Connect with them on Twitter and Instagram asking you all the right, real, riveting questions.




I think the biggest discrepancy surrounding my upbringing was that I had these expectations of what a mother is supposed to be and do. Realization has allowed me freedom to be like ‘Yo, you have really had these expectations and they’ve influenced how you’ve navigated - a progressive action that allows me to hold myself accountable in the change.

Mom: “So why didn’t you hold yourself accountable in the beginning?”

In the beginning, the reason to change was happening. Realizations take time. Understanding myself as a person is admitting - I’ve been working on figuring it out and I’ve been working on coming to myself, about what the truth is and letting the truth be.

All these years, I’ve been avoiding myself. I didn’t want to know myself as the pain I had caused. I was fearful to extending myself the opportunity to be more because all I believed I could be was” painful, destructive, hurt. Now that I’ve come into being truthful, I’m beginning to realize and accept that there are some things that I don’t like about myself, here’s how I got to this unlikeable portion of myself, considering if I am truly willing to commit to changing consistently for the better. I had convinced myself of the difficulty to be compassionate and just and the comfort of selfishness and narcissism. Once I married the idea of faith and change, I trusted new definitions of myself.

Mom: “I have no tolerance for BS, negativity. People always have a motive; I’m defensive [and] offensive. I can’t [just] open up and let you in.”

If you’re not looking out for yourself, how can you expect somebody to look out for you? Even considering understanding, you give people standards on how to treat you because you can not be treated any kind of way.

Mom: “And I owned that.”

When did you know ‘it’ was yours? How did you come into it? What developed it? You know what sucks? Losing out on time, the feeling that years have been wasted with no recollection of memory.

Mom: “It’s gone. It doesn’t matter, you move forward.”

Can we? Are you open it? I am learning to be patient with building or rebuilding trust because it comes from me wanting to expect you to be as I am right now - to desire the outcome with me, immediately as I feel it. But, my urgency doesn’t constitute change or action on your part. ‘Hey, if I’m open and I’m ready, let’s do it.’ And Mommy’s demeanor is ‘No, we’ve had histories of me giving you chances and you’ve squandered them. And because of this course of action, am I hesitant with you.’

I don’t have the range to ask you to trust me at my urgency because I haven’t had this urgency with you. I haven’t earned, I haven’t done the work, I haven’t even asked you ‘What is your work? What do I need to do to allow you the room to even begin to trust me?’

I’ve wasted so much time. I wasn’t lying when I said I’d never would be in my right mind if I didn’t admit to myself the facts of my destructive actions and be brave enough to attempt to rebuild. I can no longer be willingly proud of using people for my benefit and then discarding them like an object. This is not the function of relationships, community or communication.

People have the same feelings that I do. So if I cut my feeling off to people. I do myself a disservice just willfully existing when I could be full with life and be here, be present. I’ve missed out on life.

Mom: “And that was your choice.”

Knowledge is being open to understanding that you don’t know everything. And that comes from what our past is and how our ancestors created the influence that became us today. Our intelligence is that we have the bravery and the strength to be willing to understand, to extend our sincerest compassion. This takes a lot of trust as life skills function to teach and show gratitude to our unique and resilient survival.

Mom: “So now that you comprehend thoroughly - it should have never even got[ten] to this point.”

But, I don’t discredit anything that’s happened because at least I got here and at least I got here with you, presently. In your physical body, I can still reach out and touch you. I can still call you up. There’s still a possibility of establishing and maintaining a healthy relationship. It’s going to be work to rebuild twenty-two years of trust.

Mom: “Not just with me. Because Mommy don’t live by herself, so that can’t just be with me. That has to be with every individual in this household.”

I can’t singularly impact you without affecting the people that you love. The minute you decide to love somebody and be there for them, you have to be there for what is and what isn’t, all of their world too. This is a huge responsibility and honor because you are yourself at the end of the day and that’s special and that’s important. The minute you decide to become something to somebody else, you alter them and yourself. For better or worse.

Mom: “You kinda messed up but nothing can be unfixable.”

That premature disbelief in your success as a parent was a direct response to my disbelief in truly owning up to my potential as a human being, even if that meant failing. This was the easiest way to relieve myself of the feeling and action of limiting myself and my potential. Fear was my unsafe safety net.

Mom: “I never had disbelief in my success.”

I did. I did! I projected this by speaking it to you, on your life because misery loves company. I didn’t want to be alone in my fears so I brought the closest person to me down with me.

Mom: “You can be fearful but you can’t control my destiny. You can not say ‘Oh, you gon’ fail because I’m afraid to even try.’”

That’s how afraid fear is. What an entry point, a way made, a possibility to believe.