Multiculturalism Within The Self

All my life I have been trying to find some type of rule book by which to live by, that feel right and create a sense of belonging in my soul. And now I realize that there really aren’t any rules.

All my life, I have heard my family make comments and statements about Americans. Wanting to fit in, I think I decided to reject Americanism and its values, all while carrying several American values. I made myself a walking paradox. I didn’t realize this at the time, but the same rejection I openly expressed, was also an open rejection of my own self.

When I asked the question, ‘what’s wrong with me?’ I realize that the answer was in the objective view of the question. What’s wrong with me is that I think there’s something wrong with me. I embody a culture that for so long I worked so hard to deny. In doing so, I denied myself. And I made myself look foolish and dissected myself by lacking that true appreciation for a big chunk of a culture that allows me to be a great reflection of my true self. I understand now that part of my own internal struggles has been a result of the warring cultures within myself. Instead of embracing both sides as part of the tapestry that makes me who I am, I often placed them in conflict with one another. But I am both (or all three…depending on how you look at it).

The irony of this is that while I have always said that I don’t think one culture is better than any one, only different. My behavior and rejection of American values despite reflecting many of those same values has communicated that I really think one is better than the other.

Opening my heart to the realization that I am American, Trinidadian and Tobagonian, as well as Guyanese, and learning to embrace all the beauty that comes with each aspect of said culture is giving me have a better understanding of who I am.

 

 

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Meeting The Shadow Self

While in contemplation, I asked to meet my shadow self. This is the side of oneself that has been repressed for buried down because it has been deemed “unacceptable” to the image that an individual tries to convey to society. I decided to take a moment to give this Shadow self space.

I am angry. I feel alot of anger and frustration towards my family for not being what I had hoped. For not giving me all that I needed to grow. They take advantage of my goodness and often look for ways to show me up. And I am angry at them. I am also angry at myself for allowing myself to do things I never should’ve done. I never should’ve gone back out with my ex. I know it was stupid of me but I did it anyways and tried to convince myself that things were good when it was not. I am angry because I often feel as though i am not where I should be in the physical as well as in the spiritual. I wish I had my own home and a career I genuinely liked. I wish I wasn’t in school anymore. I wish I was a more well-known and inspirational writer. I’m angry because in high school had a lot of “friends” I wish I had told off sooner and confronted. One of whom was blatantly disrespectful and honestly disgusting towards me. I wish I had held her feet to the fire when I confronted her about her behavior. I wish I had more confidence to stand in my own truth during that time. I get angry and jealous sometimes because I feel like my boyfriend prefers his sister or seeks her approval over mine. He did this thing the other day where her clothes were in the dryer for a week, so he took my clothes out of the basket it was in and dropped at the side of the bed and put her clothes in it. I was so angry and I wished he had been more considerate because he never would’ve done that if the roles were reversed. And I feel like acting petty sometimes. 

I’m scared all the time. I’m also really scared of being judged. I’m scared that others will see that I don’t really have that many close friends. I’m scared of being wrong. I’m scared that others will see that I really am, in many ways, incompetent. Sometimes words and statements and phrases go way over my head or make absolutely no sense to me. But I’m so afraid of being called incompetent or appearing ignorant that I say nothing or laugh it off. 

I feel like I’m chronically guilty. I feel things that I always reason I’m not suppose to feel. And I get angry at myself for that. I get angry and jealous when I see my mom taking it her family from the caribbean and treating me like I’m 2nd class as a result of it. I get angry because I realize that what is acceptable to them (having people move their stuff, living all under one roof, etc) isn’t acceptable to me. I feel guilty for being American or being called out for having “American” values because it always seemed like a bad thing. But then why are you working so hard to bring your family here? A better life also means acknowledging that some parts of this culture and its customs work without judging, belittling or putting that culture down, the same way I don’t think your customs and culture should be put down. I feel guilty and undeserving because often times I can’t stand my cousin who lives with me. I hate hearing about all her relationship foolishness or about her education and I really don’t want to drop her anywhere because I think she should know how to drive now and she’s just wasting my time. But then i feel guilty when something good happens to her because it feels like I’m wishing bad on her. I’m just so sick of her crap. 

I’m angry because I feel like my mom’s family pushed me out of the house I lived in for over a decade and my mom didn’t do shit about it. I’m angry because I feel like my mom chooses everyone else in her family over me, her only daughter. And I wish I could tell her to suck it to her face or ask her why she does this and get a genuine answer. But I won’t. I never will. I also feel chronically guilty because I really don’t want to spend much time with most of my family anymore. Whenever I go back to my mom’s house I realize how closed off and cut out from their lives I feel and I wish I had a home to go back to when I leave her place so I didn’t once again get the feeling that I just don’t belong. I’m always worried that I just don’t belong. That no one really, actually likes me, that I’m shitty at my job, that people think I’m weird or full of it, that they’re always looking to trip me up. I’m insecure. 

Sometimes I feel like I fake my sensitivities. This whole empath concept came to me when I first discovered this woman online who had this Chinese boyfriend. This was during the time I was conducting interviews trying to understand why so many black males did not like dark skin black women and often proclaimed they liked white and asian women more because of whatever reason they had. Of course the answer would always go back to “it’s just a preference” because how can anyone protest a person’s tastes, right? It was always ignorant bullshit to me but further affirmed the idea that i wasn’t good enough. Anyways, this woman and her husband, I just admired their relationship and the way she spoke. People seemed to love her and flock to her. She was so charismatic, enthusiastic and dynamic in her online communication on forums. She called herself an Empath and sensitive to energy. It was around the time that I realized I was an INFP which at the time made up only a small percentage of the population which made me feel lonely and special at the same time. The description didn’t fit me 100% because I wasn’t sappy. So I decided to try to fit the description of the INFP to a ‘T’ and researching and hearing about the Empath title, and wanting to be like this woman, made me decide to absorb those traits. Like I said, I really wanted to belong in my newly diverse environment where I felt completely out of place, disconnected from the Divine, and just all out depressed and not good enough. This woman’s portrayal of herself online became my Persona. It wasn’t actually real. But it did seem to work for a time. 

There’s a part of me that feels somewhat ashamed of myself because I wasn’t always honest, even with myself. I did so many things that I really did not need to do and I judged myself so harshly for not living up to others expectations. I wasn’t taking myself into account. I’ve had so many personal experiences that because they didn’t “fit” with the experiences of others I buried it under and sought validity for them from people who couldn’t understand because it wasn’t their experience. I judged it so much. As much as I judge myself. I just could not allow myself to feel wrong, angry, ashamed, scared, ignorant, different, unique, jealous, guilty, insecure, confused, vulnerable.

I’m working now to be whole, to come to terms with all of me and to give them spaces to exists.

 

Finding My Voice: Speaking The Truth

Yesterday, I did a good and wonderful thing. While I wanted to write about it on the day it happened, I instead decided to sit with the experience to allow it to process.

Yesterday, I went to Wegmans with the intent of buying a few ingredients in order to make grilled Galbi steak. It was a particularly…exhausting day. I had a Health Assessment exam and then went to a class I greatly dislike because it makes me hyperaware that I am an African American woman with Caribbean roots and it is highly ostracizing to experience this amongst white women who are constantly complaining about their rights and their children because for some reason it’s never enough. For some reason, they feel the need to be in everything. And yet, nothing that pertains to the African American community or minorities. Often comments are met with silence or changing of topic. Because in truth, when it comes to health care and healthcare policies, there isn’t much support or resources in place.

On this day, I gave up on white people. Again. This time I assured myself it was for good. Because in my heart, I don’t think anything good and uplifting can truly come out of “whiteness” when you’re labeled as “black”. In truth, the entire creation of the term blackness to identify a group of people is by definition an opposite/opposition to whiteness. I know, that in a society that tries to make me feel as though I have no history, that my history extends beyond and exists beyond slavery. I have roots. I have origins. I have a home and a connection to something greater than myself that can not be erased.

But on this day, I was particularly exhausted. As I walked through Wegmans, I felt the drain of sitting in a class of all white females and one middle aged white female professor discussing health policy and feeling like I need not be there. By the time I got to the register, I couldn’t even muster a heartfelt smile to greet the cashier. But I tried. She asked how my day was going.

In that moment, I wasn’t even thinking about telling the truth. I wanted to tell her that my day was going fine. I wanted to tell her that I’m feeling great and peachy and ask her how she was doing in return. But I couldn’t. I told her the truth of my feelings. The cliffnotes version though.

I call this truth telling a great and wonderful thing because for the longest time, I could not even write the truth. Let alone speak it. So to be able to open my mouth and say, even if it was just a few words, how I actually felt. To have what I say, do, think, and feel align, felt wonderful. It felt congruent. Because it was.

Free Write: A Version of My Younger Self

There’s so many things I wish I could’ve said to my younger self. There are other ways to get closure. Don’t get back with that guy, his insecurities will only serve to stress you out. The people you thought were your friends are actually not a real match for you. Don’t be afraid to end a relationship that’s toxic to you. Trust yourself implicitly. The list goes on. But I would never say it because I would cease to exist and I don’t lament my existence.

Perhaps the one thing I would tell my younger self is that sense of purpose she feels in her soul, cultivate it and don’t let anyone or anything detract her from nurturing that fire within. Cultivate your purpose. Figure out what it is you like to do and do it well. Do it to the best of your ability because how you do what you do, no one else can do. There is only one you.

If reincarnation is real, I’d like to come back with the sole purpose of focusing on writing and cultivating my spiritual gifts. Falling in love with the Divine creation in the mirror is a lifelong task that I am happily engaged in on a daily basis. True love. A transformative love. I would pass this information on to my younger self. I have asked myself, “how would I say it so that I can get my message across to her?” Here’s what I’ve got so far:

Creation of the Divine,

Know that you are worthy and loved. Know that you are a beautiful reflection of the Divine because He made you in His image. God loves You, for You. There is nothing you need to prove or do that could add or detract from His love. You are not required to act like anyone in order to experience His loving grace and mercy. You are not required to be with anyone in order to experience His love and support. You do not need anyone’s permission to live your best and greatest life. Forgiveness is an energy that liberates the perpetrator and the forgiver. Forgive others, forgive yourself. In your forgiveness, you are not required to take anyone back, keep them around, feign niceness, or try to make a relationship work that you know is broken. Open your heart to new possibilities. Trust yourself. Love yourself for God loves you. Allow yourself to explore and discover who you truly are without guilt or remorse. 

Sincerely,

Your older self

The Divine Is My Shepherd

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I know who I am when I am in silence. I love it. I love her. My essence is Divine. She is calm, peaceful, welcoming, loving, forgiving, accepting, and honest. She is divinity connected to Divinity.

In silence I feel God everywhere. I know God is everywhere. In every breath, in every thing. God is great. God is wonderful. I feel Him. But I do not understand Him and I am often reluctant to misrepresent Him. God needs no explanation. I feel Him and he is unconditional love.

I ask myself: Do you know who you are? Beautiful reflection of the Divine, do you know whose image you are made in? Why then do you care so much what others think of you? You are loved. God loves you. God wants the best for you. He wants good things for you. 

I know this to be true. I feel this in my soul to be true. When I hear this, I know that I belong, that my soul belongs, to tI know who I am when I am in silence. I love it. I love her. My essence is Divine. She is calm, peaceful, welcoming, loving, forgiving, accepting, and honest. She is divinity connected to Divinity.

In silence I feel God everywhere. I know God is everywhere. In every breath, in every thing. God is great. God is wonderful. I feel Him. But I do not understand Him and I am often reluctant to misrepresent Him. God needs no explanation. I feel Him and he is unconditional love.

I ask myself: Do you know who you are? Beautiful reflection of the Divine, do you know whose image you are made in? Why then do you care so much what others think of you? You are loved. God loves you. God wants the best for you. He wants good things for you.

I know this to be true. I feel this in my soul to be true. When I hear this, I know that I belong, that my soul belongs, to the one who created me in His divine image. To the Most High. 


I Want To Speak From The Heart

I figured out at a young age that I was different in some way. Maybe because I was dark-skinned, black, caribbean descent, connected to the Divine in some way. And I was vulnerable. And I wanted to be loved and to be seen as beautiful and valuable, in a way that no one around me was capable of making me feel at that time. I was alone. And in my vulnerability, I was taken advantage of. By many. And I think I learned to allow myself to be violated repeatedly by tensing up and whisking myself away when the violation happens. I’m not talking about sexual violation. That did happen. The violation I am talking about is mental and psychological. I feel like because of the events that transpired in my home life, I became a target for abuse on many levels.

Over the years, I learned to stop allowing my heart to speak freely and openly about how I feel and about various traumas. I learned that people don’t come to my aid when I need them to. This affects me on a creative level. Fear of speaking from my creative place makes it so that I stifle my writing and method of expression. But it needs to come out. It needs to be expressed in order for me to live in the fullness of my being.

I guess this is why I’m here. This is why I write the things I write on this page. This is where my heart writes its truth, unfiltered and uninhibited. It needs to happen.

 

Tell The Truth: I’m Doing Trial And Error

Life has accelerated very quickly for me since turning 26. For one, I’ve learned the value of boundaries and the importance of enforcing those boundaries. Then, as time went on, I found it more and more obvious to me that I care less and less what others think. This has been increasing at alarming rates for myself. I’m not a shrinking violet anymore. At least not nearly as much of a shrinking violet as I use to be.

However…

Today, while on a mini vacation, I decided to call a small deli and bakery to order some food for myself. I looked at the menu online, dialed the number, and when someone on the other end answered, I proceeded to place my order. Now on the website, the menu clearly stated that they had a Blacked Salmon available for order as an Entree. But when I proceeded to order the person on the other end became very upset and stated that they don’t do Entrees and that I was probably looking at the wrong thing because she did not know where I was getting my order selection from (it was from their website). She later said that maybe I was looking at their dinner menu (their website does not have a lunch or dinner menu option available for selection). I asked her to hold on while I went to check on the website and confirm what I saw as I was taken aback by her obvious annoyance at my asking about the Entree options. She then asked me to call back. I said okay and she hung up. I was angry. I was very angry. And uncomfortable. But I didn’t show it. I proceeded to ask myself why is it that I’m not okay with expressing my anger. I had one thought come to mind: that maybe after years of being shown and having it be implied through other’s behaviors and lack of supportiveness that as a Black woman I was not allowed to be angry, I learned to suppress my anger. 

And this is true. For years, I noticed how others often reacted fearfully to my anger or came to other’s aid when I was angry. I noticed how I was always the “bad” one for feeling anything other than happy and pleased and grateful or, if offended, silent and forgiving, for the stupid shit that other people did or said to me. I watched how people came to other’s aid when they were hurt, wounded or offended or how supportive other people were when the one who was offended stood up for themselves. The message from childhood was clear: I was not allowed to show offense or take offense.

But at some point I decided to say Fuck ’em. Yep. Fuck them, okay? Because I’m entitled to my feelings as much as anyone else.

Here’s what I realized is going on: I get taken aback when others express anger towards me or in my direction. I get overwhelmed by it and it makes me uncomfortable. I never learned how to deal with angry people except to avoid them. But I can’t always avoid them. People always try to offer tools when other people are angry on how to deal with them. Stay calm, stay safe, stay out of the way, listen, know when to disengage. But sometimes their anger makes me angry too! Sometimes I think people get angry because they know that others have been taught not to engage angry people and they want others to submit to their will. Some people think that by speaking louder or yelling then they will be heard or it will force others to agree or…I don’t know. I’m not looking to empathize with the feeling of anger. I’m looking for how to deal with it.

I’m going to use trial and error. I’m just not comfortable having people talk to me in a disrespectful manner.