When you think of me.

Layah Shagalow
6 min readJun 1, 2021


Hi there. I’m present Layah. Or for the sake of this conversation, I’m future Layah. Because I recently read back my last Medium post, and I’ll be honest, Layah from the past was not so ok. When I told everyone not to think of me, it came from a deep and raw place, and honestly, I don’t know what possessed me to hit publish on that piece. But I’m glad I did. For myself. For the people with whom those feelings resonated so deeply. But mostly, for the words that I didn’t even know needed to be said.

If you know me and the way I write, you’ll know that I often don’t know how the story ends until I get there. Writing is a way for me to process the ambiguous and uncontained thoughts in my mind until they take the form of coherent words. Most of the time I don’t entirely know where I’m going until the words flow out onto the page. And last time, in the process of forming my thoughts, some really important words flowed out. Words I didn’t know were true until I read them back to myself.

“Who exactly was she thinking of. Because it clearly wasn’t me. So no, I won’t be grateful. …… Not after years of being openly judged and ridiculed for who I am as a person, and being told that it is the reason for my being single, so frequently and forcefully that now, no one even has to say a word, because I already believe it about myself.”

I read these words over and over and over. And I was astonished that they were mine. But out on the page, in the light of day, I couldn’t deny how accurate they were. How much they were holding me hostage. And how much I didn’t want them to be anymore. I realized that the negative things I had been told about myself as a young and impressionable person had developed into a black mold that had rooted into my sense of self. They had become a rot that had grown so deep into the foundation of my opinion of my own character and personality that there was no longer a need for anyone to actually tell me those things, because I had been repeating them to myself. I had been believing them about myself on the inside, long after the voices faded from the outside.

Seeing the words in front of me was a wakeup call. Black mold is dangerous; deadly. I needed to cure the diseased and infected way I had been thinking. The unwelcome and untrue opinions of myself needed to be banished from my psyche. But that…