I Like Myself

I decided I want to like myself, so that I can love myself. Over the years, I stopped liking myself because I did not like the person I became. I lost vision of the kind of person I like and the kind of person I want to be.

The kind of person I like is a woman who advocates for herself regardless of the status the person holds. The kind of person I like is a woman who works out daily. She eats well. She takes care of her skin and her hair. The kind of person I like is a woman who respects herself and is kind to herself. She treats others with respect. The person I like speaks with authority, knowing her value and her worth. She is confident in who she is. The person I like works towards her goals. She spends less time sulking in her bedroom and more time grounding, strengthening her core self. The person I like spends less time concerned with what others think of her and more time on how she feels and what she thinks.

I lost vision. I lost motivation and sense of purpose. But I am back. My focus is on creating a life I am pleased with and being a person I can honestly say I like.

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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.

 

 

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.

The Solution

It’s been a real struggle for me learning how to take responsibility for my own actions while not taking on responsibility for the behavior of adults because they are family. Not understanding the importance of allowing people to take ownership for their stuff the way I take ownership of my own stressed me out. I’ve wanted to feel appreciated and respected by my family and I haven’t felt that way. I often feel unheard, bullied, belittled, disrespected, and like my boundaries don’t matter. It made me feel angry and I just didn’t know how to deal with it. There are systems already in place that have no room for me as the adult I am now.

The solution is learning to be more self-sufficient. Having my own place and managing my own affairs. I need to figure out how to do this. Having that ownership without looking to them for validation will help me better create boundaries. I’ve come to understand that this is an important part of me not seeking their approval and validation because they can not give me what I need. And what I need is a respectful, loving, and supportive system that values honesty, transparency, and a willingness to “speak to the mountain” (respectfully) if an issue arises. I need to be in a place that nourishes my soul.

I Am Right With Me

I could not accept my own goodness and this is why I suffered. I couldn’t say anything nice about myself without following up with, “I’m not perfect.” Why? Because somewhere along the way I picked up the idea that if it came easily, it wasn’t worth it. I was suppose to work hard for everything I earned and I was not suppose to validate and give credence to myself.

Back in 2014/2015, I was working in Texas under a particularly difficult travel nursing assignment. I picked up so many extra shifts and struggled to remain on day shift despite dreading it. I had convinced myself that it was necessary to do these things in order to demonstrate that I was not lazy. One day, after a particularly stressful shift, I came to the realization that struggle was not necessary for growth. And indeed it was not. The days and weeks and years that followed involved me learning to relinquish control of the notion that somehow I had to prove to the world and to myself that I somehow deserved all the good things I received in life.

A few weeks back, I was speaking to a spiritually gifted woman and I was telling her that one of the things I continued to ask myself and have asked myself for years is, “What’s wrong with me?” I’ve searched through every nook and cranny of my life and my own soul, overturning any perceived flaw and attempted to improve it, attempted to demonstrate to myself and others that I am “good”, “okay”, “lovable”, “acceptable” or whatever positive trait can be applied to a person. I wanted their respect, their attention, their time, their love and felt that somehow I was unworthy of it because I wasn’t this, that and the other. And if for a second a demonstrated any of those things and it was noticed, I’d have to diminish it so as to appear humble, another positive trait that I assumed did not exist in my “good trait bank”.

Fast forward to age 26 and I am focused on self-love. Self-love is, in many ways, the overarching lesson I had been trying to learn in so many ways throughout the years. The need for boundaries, self-respect, telling the truth to yourself and others, honoring your truth, trusting yourself, letting go and letting God, taking risks, all these fall under the theme of self-love. They are sub lessons and sub categories to propel you to experience the richness that is me.

I am right with me. Who I am, how I live, what I say, do, think, feel and how I act are in alignment. In my soul, I know, that at age 26, I am right with me. The validation I sought, I now give to myself. I give myself permission to live my best life because I matter. On all spheres. What I say, think, feel, do, matters. I understand now that instead of taking life’s messages as a sign that something’s wrong with me, maybe my feelings, thoughts, the sluggishness of and pains I felt in my body, the blockages and sense of drain I often felt in my previous lives were indications that I need to change something about the environment I am in or that maybe I need to change the way I approach a situation or maybe I just need to leave it! The body, the mind, the spirit, the heart, all of these things communicate on a regular basis and I had not been listening to the messages that were being put out. Paulo Coelho often said that we need to pay attention to signs. I wasn’t. Actually, I was trying to once again find external validation and messages that could or would serve as signs that I am on the right track. What I first needed to do was listen to myself. There was nothing intrinsically or even extrinsically wrong with me. But because I spent so much time trying to pick myself apart and make myself move despite the signals life, god, my body, my heart, my soul, my mind were sending me, I suffered. Now I know better. So I do better.

I am right with me.

 

 

 

Eating When Hungry: Why I Binge

Today I learned that one of the reasons i binge on junk food in order to cope with my own emotional discomforts. Something(s) in my life have been or felt out of my control. There’s been things in my that I truly wanted and while I did everything to try an get them, I didn’t get them. As a result, I Binge on junk food to cope with the sadness, pain, and discontent of those unfulfilled spaces in my soul. I feel like my boyfriend is ignoring me, I go out and buy junk food. I’m sitting watching television and boredom overtakes me, I grab a burger. I’m sad, I go to Wendy’s and get nuggets. Stress? Junk food. Lonely? Junk food. Empty, heavy calories to fill me up when I feel hollow inside.

Today, I chose to eat only when hungry. Today, I chose to listen to my body and eat when it told me it wanted to eat. I was surprised because today, instead of having my first meal at 8 or 9am, I had my first meal at 2pm. I tried a square of my boyfriend’s maverick &pizza, a chicken caesar salad, with 1.5 chocolate chip muffies and a caramel iced latte with skim milk from Panera and a piece of bread. How did I feel afterwards ? Content. Satisfied. For dinner I shared a chicken caesar salad and a piece of bread with my boyfriend and drank a cup of water. I felt satisfied then too.

It was quite an eye opener when I realized that I’ve been attempting to bury my emotional discomfort and trauma with food. It never occurred to me that instead of trying to eat away the pain, sitting with it and allowing myself to listen to the messages my body was sending me would be a better alternative. It had never occurred to me that I used food in that way until now.

I wonder what other messages my body has for me…