I felt as though after years of developing layer after layer of personality, trying to be someone I’m not, all of those layers were stripped. I was finally allowed to be myself – a woman I barely know.
I have never hesitated in sharing that Isabelle Palerma is a pseudonym, but what I realize is that I was not just writing under a false name but living under a false persona. I wasn’t being authentic to myself anymore because along the way, I stopped trusting those around me to love who I am. Though there are parts of me that are true to myself, and I reveal a lot more than I conceal, there is still a component of me that isn’t true to me. I never thought this as a purposeful deceit, but this person has made me question where I lost myself along the way.
For the past month or so, I have been undertaking a journey of self-reflection and it’s far from complete, but I just wanted to let y’all know where I am.
I have blacked out my social media – no Facebook page, no Instagram. I am hardly using my alternate phone number and have deleted over a hundred contacts (people I can hardly qualify as acquaintances or even family anymore). I am trying to pare down and really find myself – not simply beneath the trauma but beneath everything I have become. I told them it’s like the Angel in the Marble.
George F. Pentecost wrote, ‘Looking up kindly into my face, he said: “My boy, I am not going to make anything out of it. I am going to find something in it.” I did not quite comprehend, but said: “Why, what are you going to find in it?” He replied: “There is a beautiful angel in that block of marble, and I am going to find it? All I have to do is to knock off the outside pieces of marble, and be very careful not to cut into the angel with my chisel. In a month or so you will see how beautiful it is.”’
This friend had gone on a journey to discover themselves. They had undergone the hard work. They went through loss and poverty and surrendering those they knew and loved to find themselves, and now that they knew themselves, they were finally free. I feel like I long identified with a phoenix – a rebirth, a renaissance of myself – but little did I realize each time, there was still a mask.
I’m seeking right now to knock off the outside pieces of marble and hopefully to not cut into the angel. Though to be honest, I feel my skin is a latticework of cuts and scars from trying to please everyone else around me. I lost myself in trying to be what everyone else thought I should be. Even when I was working at discovering myself, it was another disguise, another mask.
Isabelle Palerma is just a facet of who I am, but somehow, I got so caught up in building this presence that I forgot what I’m doing this for. I want to amplify voices of the unheard, but the truth of the matter is I don’t know if I even know my voice. I was told the story of an eighteen-year-old girl sleeping on a park bench, fighting for love and independence. They said she was fearless. They talked about her courage. I felt something stir inside of me when they told this story.
I have become a coward and a chameleon. I don’t want to remain in this state forever. I don’t want to die. I want to be reborn as myself.
Ps: Initially, I thought of this as rebranding. That’s not the right language, but I do want to discover who I am after years of being who I am not.