‘I need the pain to feel earned’ – by Tara Ashraf.

When I whip out a kick, toes flexed high to the sky.

When I sit into a deep squat, legs threatening to give out, but keeping me steady.

When the overwhelming urge to scream about the unfairness of losing them releases in a deep-throated exhale.

When my arms want to stay in place but the rhythm of my pace doesn’t allow them to.

When the fear of the nightfall braces my belly and pulls it in tighter.

When the hair on my arms stand up straight because my body is constantly on alert and full of fear.

When my feet arrange themselves into position without my asking.

When people who haven’t seen me since comment on the way my eyes express a new maturity.

When my arms outstretch, trying to satiate a hunger that can never be filled again.

When the tears blockade my sight and barricade my emotions into only feeling pain.

When my tongue cannot taste flavour, only sweetness, salt, or heat.

When clothes don’t fit the same way or feel the same sliding on and slipping off but new muscles and lines appear.

When the same things that once calmed me only now annoy me, because of their slowness and languid pace.

When photos of smiles belong to other people because it is rare to feel my lips stretch that way.

When the rawness of my dreams ensnares me, and won’t let go.

When my body physically aches, and doesn’t understand what is happening around it.

When my voice comes out, unsure and hesitant, only occasionally brave enough to speak truth.

When my heart breaking isn’t external or apparent to those around me.

When I need to muster strength for small efforts.

When my anger clouds my interactions with the ones I love.

When everything still has to go on.

About the author: Tara Ashraf is an international communications and media professional. She is a regular contributor to Brown Girl Magazine and runs her own blog, In Between American. She has a master’s degree in International Media from American University in Washington, D.C., and a bachelor’s in Communication, Spanish, and English from St. John Fisher College in Rochester, NY.

Check out Tara’s blog here: https://inbetweenamerican.com/

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