I had the pleasure of performing this piece on Mother’s Day for my mom. I can’t explain all the ways she means to me, but here’s a start.
And in that moment,
I knew everything changed
A “one time thing”
Would lead to patterns of more
If I let it.
That my voice would continued to be silenced if I continued my pattern.
I decided to let go
As being selfish was needed
As the ultimate act of self care.
I miss you most on rainy days
As the rain washes away all
I sometimes wish your soul was who I thought you actually were.
Perhaps it would hurt less to know that you believed you made a mistake instead of blaming me.
Maybe then I would stop thinking about you as often.
It hit me on my walk home tonight
That I’m chasing a ghost of who
I would like you to be
But not how you are.
I’m chasing a hope of potential
And not the reality that is you now
And while love is worth taking a risk on
I worry the risk and reward won’t match
That you have such a hard bar to jump
Over the bar I set
That you’ll never reach it
I don’t know if anyone could
For I put expectations on you
That you are not aware ever existed
No wonder you disappoint me.
You never had a chance.
I release you into the wild
With only but our memories remain
I am sorry I couldn’t be the pedestal
In which you thought I owned
But I am sorry you never got to know the real me.
In case you needed a reminder
Let me make it clear
I will not be silence
I am not a supporting actress
I am not your toy
And I am not your puppet
If I ever gave you that impression or the feel that you had such power
Then please understand the following
I am the author
And director of my own story
You opinions do not help, make me better, or smooth my anxiety
They instead cause damage
And while you think you are stopping hate
You are only spreading it like smooth peanut butter on some dry ass toast
You are not worth adding wrinkles to my head or causing tears to fall from my eyes.
And you do not pay rent to occupy my mind.
And if you wanted to, you can’t afford me.
While you try to silence me
And others with differing opinions
Let me make it clear
You would be lucky if you’re even a footnote in my life story
My love for you is unpredictable as Chicago weather.
Sometimes I look forward to seeing you, and sometimes I can’t wait to move away.
I talk about you like summer as the best thing, but then get mad when you repeat the same blizzard year after year.
I remember the good times of Super Bowls and Championships.
But forget the 108 years of heartache.
I eat you up like pizza and Garret’s popcorn.
But hate that you never put spices on anything. Like ever.
I wish I could always run on the lake path of your heart.
Instead of fearing that I’ll slip on black ice.
I should probably move to LA, but LA doesn’t have your heart and spirit.
LA is too predictable.
And maybe I like Chicago weather.
I wish she wasn’t a trigger
I wish every time I saw her I don’t imagine her death
I wish I could I admit that I was in love with you
Instead of high five you for your latest conquest
I wish you choose me…every time
And not only because I’m present
I wish Father Time stopped playing games
I wish we stopped playing games.
I hate that I love you
And that I compare every man to you.
I hate being in love with the idea of you
Instead of the actual you.
I hate that you don’t have your shit together
I wish you had your shit together
I wish when you do, that you’ll choose me
I hate that I know you won’t
And that you’ll choose another her
That her type is the prize
And that I’ll never be.
To My Body:
I am sorry. Sorry for treating you like you didn’t matter or that you were less then. You didn’t deserve it.
Your only goal was to protect my mind and heart, and what I gave you in return was talk down to you, try to destroy you, and put you through pain.
I can continue to tell you how sorry I am, but this you already know. I will instead thank you for all that you’ve done.
Body…thank you for protecting me from the outside world and taking in the battle scars.
Body…thank you carrying my emotional baggage. I am ok now, and It’s ok to let go.
Body…thank you for providing me strength to keep going even when I didn’t want to.
Thank you for being you. I promise to treat you as the queen you are.
And when our lips touched
I knew it was over
Over being faithful
Over saying he is the only one
Over saying to him, do you trust me?
Because in this moment
In the moment of electronic fire
I no longer belonged to him
Because my arms wrapped around your neck say you are now mine.
Even for this moment.
As we both know these few days belong to us and us alone, but the minute 8am hits on Monday, you are back on a plane and I am here
Here with the smell of your cologne
Mixed with coconut oil sweat still on my pillow and my body.
We wouldn’t work in the real world
We say as a way to protect our hearts that live close by while our bodies live far.
But for a weekend, your body is pressed against mine and I can hear your heartbeat.
It makes the sound of a 90s r&b love song
And when I forget the words, you are here right now for me to listen instead of imagine what it might be.
I kiss your chest to remix the song and you pull my chin up.
I love you you say.
The softness of your skin
The beautiful soul that makes me a better man you say.
Your soul makes me complete I want to say.
I want to say leave your home, and we can create one filled with butterflies and orange trees.
I know they don’t grow in the city, but with you anything is possible.
I kiss you with a mascara tear rolling down my face.
A tear full of happiness, sadness, and my love for you.
I want to take a video of this moment and play it over and over instead of the memory I may remember of this and the memory of you leaving.
As the moment you leave, the dream we built becomes a fantasy
And then it’s truly over.
For I am left with but a memory of the insecurity of us.
My voice booms when I talk, but it sounds like yelling to you. My hoops are too big you say, but you love other stereotypes of the Latin women; some of which do not belong to me, but you project onto me. I am educated, but still need me to act helpless and not know anything. I am great to date, but not exclusively. You call me a vice, but I am not the woman you bring home to mom.
If you are the one with all the problems, then why do I feel bad?
The you in this case are all things multiple men have told me throughout the years. Now I know what you are thinking, “Maria why are you dating such awful men?” The answer is I didn’t know. These men all looked different, had different backgrounds, and appeared to be prince charmings at first. They weren’t all white, nor men of color. They were men I wanted validation from because we had an intense spark. I probably missed a lot of signs, but I also wanted to be the girl from the movies. The girl you had to see about.
You know the type. She gets in a weird situation or is too independent for her own good. Her life is mostly together, and then she meets 2005 Matthew McConaughey/ Mark Wahlberg/Ryan Gosling and Boom! He gives her the one thing she has been missing that gives her life meaning….love. And you know what happens…say it with me….They live happily ever after!
What they don’t show is when Matthew got drunk or Mark not cleaning the dishes or when Ryan…Ryan is perfect, so I will move on. They don’t show the faults of the men that quote unquote saved them. They show “how the perfect man should be” And for me, I wanted the perfect man to come save me.
Don’t get me wrong, I lead and have led a badass life. I have a mostly supportive family, amazing friends, I’ve traveled, I get to perform across the country, and I get to lead the life I could have never dreamed of. But it seemed kind of lonely and when I was very young and dumb, I feared being 31 and alone like the lead’s best minority friend who kind of looked like me. I honestly thought I needed a man, baby and my life figured out at 25. I guess I wanted my happily ever after without the sequel.
A part of it was my lack of dating experience, but my high experience of not feeling good enough. Don’t get me wrong, my family treated me like a princess- something I never thought I deserved because the outside world treated me like a toad. I felt I had to be perfect for people to like me. I felt like I had to fit in to feel less alone-and that included dating men who started off as my 2005 Matthew, they usually ended up being the 2018 Lincoln Car Salesman.
I had high hopes for them. Expectations they were not aware of, and when they showed signs of these expectations, I ignored the other 80% that was the Lincoln Car Salesman. Let’s name these men Mike because I’ve dated 5 guys literally named Mike. It’s probably because I am bad with names or that it was most popular boy name in the 1970s and 1980s.
Some of Mike’s 80% included, but limited to, signs they were cheating on me, not introducing me to their family or friends because I didn’t fit in, and emotional abusive micro-aggressions that I was told I was crazy to think or call abusive because Mike wasn’t physically hurting me at the time.
I took a lot from these men because in my head, I rather be with someone I kind of liked, then alone. Someone who treated me alright, but not like a princess. Someone with a lot of buts, and the kind with only one “t.”
I was searching for someone to come save me, but looking back, what would they be saving me from? Getting my education, my trips around the world, spending time with my family and friends, or my life I was living and not waiting in my castle. In reality, I do not live in a castle, nor want to. The lack of bathrooms and old furniture would scare me. But when you have a lack of representation or stories, you start to think even little crumbs acceptable.
My voice booms when I talk though they’d rather I stay meek because leads are often quiet and not strong. You see, men in those movies are considered the charming hero despite their flaws and do whatever they want, but women in those movies are generally seen as either prizes or strong-willed until the man breaks them down to be a star. As much as we want to say our society isn’t like this, we live everyday where men, especially non-POC, can do half the work and get away with more. And women…well we are a prize that needs to be shaped-even in a pant suit.
I look back and wished I hadn’t let society get me. That I hadn’t taken a lot on myself, punished myself, and saw myself how my family always saw me. That as woman, a beautiful woman of color, I am an equal even if the world doesn’t see me as such.
With my voice booming, this even hard to talk about now because I still have a little voice telling me things. Things like I am supposed to appear that I am strong, but not too strong. That I shouldn’t make people feel uncomfortable as a woman. These are things not shown in the movies or talked about in real life. And honestly for a long time I felt alone surrounded by people, seeking attention from men, punishing myself for their mistakes, and not feeling like I could be myself. It tore at me for years.
It wasn’t until I found a group of women who made me feel like I could fly and be myself. We are an improv group here in Chicago called Matt Damon Improv. Yes, we perform improv and no Matt Damon is not a part of it. But I am not here to talk about improv, but rather their friendship and sisterhood. They helped me find myself and accept who I am. That I can be myself and let my voice be heard. That I am good enough without the “ors and buts” That I can be on my own. That I am enough, and I do not need the men seen in the movies. They are fictional parts after all.
My voice booms when I talk. My hoops are big. I am educated. I am great to date, if you are lucky enough. I am a badass woman and I do not need your validation.
“Yes. Hi my name is Maria Konopken, and a fun fact about me is I am running the Chicago Marathon in October.”
Yes, I have become that person at auditions and in life that will not shut up about her upcoming marathon. I’ll catch myself talking about, and scream inside my head…TALK ABOUT ANYTHING ELSE!
But in reality, I am excited and about to poop my pants scared about it. When I signed up back in December, October seemed so far away. Heck, March seemed like years away. And now it’s March 14. Week 1 of marathon training.
To help keep me accountable, and to help raise money for the charity I am running on behalf for, Girls on the Run, I wanted to keep track of my progress on my blog.
So here it goes!
If you would like to donate to my fundraising goal, you can do so here.
On this #internationalwomensday, I wanted to post a picture that makes me feel powerful-as I did last year. This picture shows a lot to me, and what I’ve gone through. It was taken a few weeks after I quit my job, and to me shows the first signs of my glow and shine coming back. And while I share a lot of happiness and hope, it hasn’t been easy.
In my journey I’ve made mistakes. Hurt some on the way because I was in pain or learning when and how to communicate effectively. I’ve learned some hard lessons, and continue to do the work everyday. I’ll continue to make mistakes, and hope that those around me will understand.
I also hope to never lose the ability to speak and share my voice. My voice is powerful and helps me speak of good, bad, and change I would like to see in the world. It helps to tell my story and journey. It’s also helped to document what this last year has been and the molding of this year.
I am happier and more of proud of myself than I’ve been in months. Not everything has been roses, but I’m working on myself, my craft, working on projects, trying to better my relationships, and live my best life. And that’s more than I could have imagined 6 months ago.
May you know your glow up and shine are always there.