What did you gain? What did you lose?

The first time I came back from France for the long summer holidays, I was told (in passing) by my abusive father; he will forever remain the power in place and will beat me even if I am 36. I was 18 and he was worried my years in Europe will be too emancipating and that I’d organize a coup d’etat against him.

I did not understand then that he was scared of me, but I knew one thing, he was wrong. I knew very few other things; basic principles about life that kept me going. The first, no one remained in power forever- not even Pharaohs- and the second, I will be physically safe once I am 37. I spent the next years thinking of how to survive the decade and a half ahead beyond which he failed to imagine to be beating me. It’s is a long time when you are 18, it’s a lifetime! My relationship with my dad deteriorated faster than we’d both imagined, and my liberation started much earlier than he’d calculated. Still, the mental burden of abuse lingers.

Today is my last day being 38, I imagined this year to be one of my happiest years. An idea I got attached to simply because I like the numbers 3 and 8. I was pushed to resign from a job I loved, and was laid-off from the other one I landed few weeks after. I lost all my professional network, my Canadian family- three women that welcomed me into their lives when I was very fresh to Canada, a North-African connection in town and a Francophone friendship. I was disposed of, forgotten. Dismissed. Not missed, like the WorkSafeBC guy does not believe he missed. Things, words, testimonies are missing at my loss. I LOST.

I gained an incredible relationship with a beautiful man. I started a Fine Art Certificate, and made this space for my work. I became a Canadian citizen and voted for the first time in my life. This week I was accepted for a scholarship to dance. I can DANCE.

New directions in life feel like stretches my body lacks flexibility for. There is a cost to everything. I will keep entering this home; opening every door, checking out the view from every window. Turn all the lights on and lie on the floor; measuring the ceiling’s height with my eyes. The only thing lost, my fear.

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