The Paintbrush

I want to share this poem by Bettie B. Youngs. When I was thirteen my mother was living in a mental institution. During her stay she was given a packet of papers, essentially what contained all of her feelings, hopes and desires. I now have this packet because my mother passed away in 2012. A couple of years ago I was going through the papers and I noted a poem by Dr. Youngs; it touched me deeply and became the inspiration for my memoir, Washed Away: From Darkness to Light, which will be released fall 2016. I hope it speaks you in some way.

I keep my paint brush with me
Wherever I may go,
In case I need to cover up
So the real me doesn’t show.
I’m so afraid to show you me,
Afraid of what you’ll do – that
You might laugh or say mean things.
I’m afraid I might lose you.
I’d like to remove all my paint coats
To show you the real, true me,
But I want you to try and understand,
I need you to accept what you see.
So if you’ll be patient and close your eyes,
I’ll strip off all my coats real slow.
Please understand how much it hurts
To let the real me show.
Now my coats are all stripped off.
I feel naked, bare and cold,
And if you still love me with all that you see,
You are my friend, pure as gold.
I need to save my paint brush, though,
And hold it in my hand,
I want to keep it handy
In case someone doesn’t understand.
So please protect me, my dear friend
And thanks for loving me true,
But please let me keep my paint brush with me
Until I love me, too.