Birthday Reflection

For the days leading up to my birthday, I ugly cried. I didn’t do a planned reflection like I usually do for my impending birthday. As a result, emotion crept up on me and consumed me in a way it hasn’t in years. 

I ugly cried. Snot running from my nose, unable to be contained by sniffling and snorting, ugly cried. Falling to the floor in a pool of salted water, legs unable to keep me up ugly cried. Swollen, red puffy eyes, involuntary gasps for air ugly cried. 

 I missed my granny. She was my mom for what seemed like the first 7 years of my life. The only real constant figure I remember during that time and she died when I was 7. I use to call her mommy until my grandpa, her husband, put a stop to it. I ugly cried because I missed her. 

I ugly cried because I’m 26 and have been angry since I was 18 when I realized that most mainstream white and asian people didn’t care for me or about me. They certainly didn’t understand me. They didn’t care if I was a pillar of strength, beauty, sophistication, knowledge, love and care. They couldn’t see it. They didn’t care. They only cared about what you could do for them or how you would make them look. Image. That’s all it was about for many of them.

 I ugly cried from this place in me, that place that was angry due to disappointments that I hadn’t allowed myself to feel. It was anger and raw emotion that I wasn’t suppose to show because “the angry black woman” is a scary black woman. But I was angry and insecure white and asian people no longer got a say in how appropriate it was. Black people who wanted to define my blackness no longer got a say in how acceptable I am to it. 

I ugly cried because at 26, I had grown but still held on to great regret. Staying in DC so long, not doing something other than nursing, I wanted to explore other avenues if I could. I wanted to write, to get more creative with life. Do things that created value in my life and that didn’t suck the life out of me and wasnt meant to be long term. And I didn’t want to do anything for free. 

My grandma wanted me to be happy. My grandma wanted me to feel good about what I do and about who I am. She wanted my heart to be overflowing with joy and it has not been. I want it to be. I want to live. Truly love again and fall in love with who I am. And so I ugly cried. From the heart. I want to do 26 differently. 

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Speak Up and Stand Up For Yourself

I tried to go along to get along. I tried to be meek. I told myself, “The meek shall inherit the Earth”. I got run over. I got taken advantage of. It was implied I was a tool. The people who hung around me often times weren’t my real friends, they were users. They didn’t care about me, only what they could get from me. And they got a lot while I sacrificed my wishes and my dignity.

Lately, something inside of me has been clicking that maybe standing up for myself is just a life lesson I had to learn from even a young age, possibly even during a time when I had hoped my parents would do it. But my mother could not do it because she had not learned of her own worth. You can never truly give someone something you don’t have. Because my more did not want to ask for what she deserved, she wasn’t able to teach me how to do it. As a result, I had to teach myself. Otherwise, I’d suffer.

One of the things I have come to accept is that no matter what position anyone holds, no matter their age, race, creed, lifestyle, no matter what you believe they can do for you, it’s important that you speak up and stand up for yourself. Be your own advocate and be proud of who you are and what you are. You deserve it as a beautiful reflection of the Divine. Own who you are. Own what you are. Love it. Advocate on your own behalf.

That is what that painful experience in the NICU that resulted in me recently waking up in the morning with a sense of panic was about. Realizing that to expect others to advocate for me all the time is futile. The message was to teach me the importance of not going along to get along. It was to tell me that it was not necessary or even healthy to be completely passive. Express how you feel. Say what you want. Speak up. Love yourself enough to do it. Love yourself enough to know you matter. Acknowledge that you matter! Because you do.

Asserting yourself isn’t being controlling of other people. It’s self-control. It means that you’re telling people clearly and concisely what you want and taking ownership of your behavior and how you go about communicating that to others. It’s okay. It’s not abusive. It’s honest. As I’ve come to step further into my own womanhood and adulthood, this has become even more important. Once again, just tell the truth.

Tell The Truth: I Don’t Care To Fit In

I never really cared to fit in. For as long as I can remember, I did my own thing. I knew people, I talked to people, but I often only had one or two real friends at a time. There’s been moments in my life where I’ve been lonely and felt this overwhelming feeling that I just didn’t belong. And that was depressing. Because while I didn’t care to fit in, I just wanted to feel a sense of belonging, an acceptance somewhere of who I am. And the truth is, in those moments, I didn’t really accept myself.

The reality is, who cares if I just want to stay and home and spend time with my boyfriend playing world of warcraft, or watching Supernatural on Netflix. Why does it matter if my favorite pastime is blogging and journal writing? Or if I choose not to kill myself working 6 twelve hour shifts a week if I can afford to make ends meet and I’m happy? So I bought a dog that likes to scream like a banshee and I like him even though we literally, physically fight and he’s afraid of little kids, runners, and bicyclists. He’s my buddy.

It’s time we accept our own kooky and stop letting the world define us. This world’s definitions of me has ranged from somewhat accurate to down right deranged and I’d rather it not tell me who I am suppose to be or how I’m suppose to feel about what’s in front of me or in my life right now. Here’s a fact about me right now: I’m sick of trying to live up to white standards. Yep. I did it. I suffocated my identity to make white people and asian people feel more comfortable around me as a black woman. I’ve done it. I’ve toned it down, tied it up, buried it under and now I just won’t. I don’t care if I have friends of other races if they can’t accept me as I am and support me and see me as the wonderful creation God created me to be simply because my skin is a different shade. Those people (and I’ve met many) can go. Find someone else who meets your standards of blackness or who makes you feel safe. I’m done. And I’m a happier person for it.

I’ve come to learn that I am a beautiful reflection of the Divine, no matter what anyone says or what the world thinks. I’ve come to love the skin I’m in, the face I see in the mirror, the hair that grows from my head, the soul that animates this body, the mind that gives birth to valuable (and sometimes not so valuable lol ) ideas, and the gifts that have helped me navigate this life. Sometimes you just have to let the world know who you are. Quite frankly, this is who I am.

Tell The Truth: Keep It Real Contest

The goal was to play it cool and nonchalant about everything. The more “real” you could appear the better. That was work for me in DC. The coolest person was the one who could keep it the most “real”. I hated being amongst that game. I damn sure couldn’t/didn’t want to play it. I believe in honesty and truth. But “keeping it real” and “telling the truth” is not always the same thing. Telling the truth involves opening one’s heart to allow oneself to be vulnerable or admitting when you’re afraid to be vulnerable. “Keeping it real” was just another way of masking anger and passive-aggressiveness, “strong personalities”, and other trivialities. When I look back, I didn’t belong.

I’ve been doing a lot of reflection on this. As I said, my time there in the NICU has been coming up for me quite frequently as I try to figure out how I want to “show up” in the world. I’ve been fearful because of my experiences while at Catholic University of America. The level of self-doubt I accrued during that time was immense and slowly I’ve been chipping away at it. Just the fact that I am able to write here this openly and honestly is a reflection of my own heart and solar plexus opening up to allow the truth to come forward. I’d gotten use to hiding who I truly am and how I truly feel in order to function.

I’ve allowed myself to remain present in my body. Initially, it was scary. Being in my body meant being here, a place I didn’t always want to be. I have to remind myself that nothing can hurt me without my permission. I have to remind myself that I am as much a beautiful reflection of the Divine as all of creation. I matter. I have no reason to fear anyone or anything. When I remind myself of this, my shoulders relax, my awareness returns, I am once again fully in my body, and I am not afraid of white supremacy or anger and passive aggressive energies. I do not entertain the thought of possession. I remember that if I align myself with honesty, if I ground myself in truth and love, then I need not fear the outcome. I can hold my head up high, I can relax my shoulders, and I can wear my crown with grace.

The last few days have helped me come to appreciate the idea of being my own advocate. This is big for me. Before I lamented the idea. But now I truly relish the idea of having the strength of will, self-awareness, and character, to truly speak up for what I feel is right in my own being. As I transition fully into my own womanhood, I’ve come to embrace that ability to rely on myself and to speak my own truth in a world that may or may not want to hear it. This was not always easy. But part of embracing my own womanhood means taking responsibility for who I am, what I do, and how I show up in the world. It means owning up to my past, present, and being accountable for what I create in the future.

This is the first time that I’ve actually come to realize that I am a grown up. I’m a grown up! I’m one of those “big people” that as a kid I had to stand up to and get “put in one’s place” as a result of it. I’m a grown up now too! And that means taking ownership of myself, being accountable for myself, my time, and speaking up to advocate for myself. Thank God I had practice. Now I can take ownership of it and be proud of what it has taught me.

I’m a grown up! And if there is something that I do not like, I do not have to put up with it. I can speak up about it! I’m not a victim and I can speak my truth. I did this as a child. I can do it again as a woman.

 

 

Listen to Your Body

My time in DC, primarily in the NICU, keeps coming up for me. It was a particularly difficult time for me but served as a another turning point in my understanding of mind, body, heart, and spirit. I think the reason my difficult year in that NICU keeps coming up , despite leaving and now experiencing far greater joy in my current circumstance, is because I have yet to fully integrate the experience. There’s something in it that needs to be shared. I spent almost a decade working and going to school in DC. Long enough for me to know that…maybe I don’t want to go back. In order to survive my time in DC, I had to do one thing: ignore my body’s messages.

What I just said is the antithesis of everything I want to implore others to do. Ignoring my body led to state of utter confusion, inner turmoil, days of crying, difficult work situations that I did NOT need to be in, anxiety, difficulty forming sentences, fear of communicating with others, added stress, binge eating, and weight gain in order to cope and numb the signals my body was sending me. I didn’t listen because I was afraid that listening to my body would result in ruining my future and negatively impact my [then] goals. It was a lesson I needed to learn in trusting myself and in the Divine to guide me to where I need to be. Another lesson in surrender, in listening, and because I had left this difficult situation only to return, a lesson in learning to let go and not look back.

Not too long ago during a late night introspection not to different from this one, I asked myself how I could deepen my own awareness of Self and God. “How can I come further in contact with what I really am?” I asked. And the answer was, “Come into your body and regain awareness of it. Remain present. It’s all there.”

I recently attended a CPR certification class in an area not far from where I spent almost a decade of the first part of my adult life. As I’ve been working on remaining present and aware in my body and of its messages (a task that has been somewhat uncomfortable for me as the sensation of other people can make me want to hide away in my safe place), two things became abundantly clear to me:

  1. This was not somewhere I needed to be for long.
  2. I am not going back to DC for a good long while if I can help it.

All the years I spent experiencing DC, I failed to realize the impact it had on my own energy over time. Don’t get me wrong: I LOVE the museums and scenery. But there’s some places I’d rather just visit. I’m sure many will say the same about where I choose to call home. Some people prefer the city life or the hustle and bustle of DC living and that’s okayBut so is my own preference for staying the heck away. My time in the NICU showed me that even though those within the situation might rave about how great it is, it doesn’t mean it’s all that great for me. One of the things I do note about my time in the NICU was that I felt this overwhelming undercurrent of anger and discontent that made me want to run and fix it all at once.

I realized people gossiped about me. My entire time in DC was me feeling like someone, somewhere had something nasty to say behind my back which became readily apparent in the way people would look at me or blank me out when I came in the room. I hated that nightmare scene. And it made me realize that some people are not aware of just how crooked they are. And it hurt me. It’s part of the reason why I stopped paying attention to my body and its messages in an attempt to cope with the difficult situations I was in there. I felt pressure to conform and yet didn’t want to conform. I just wanted to be myself. But my entire time there was spent feeling like who I was as a black woman and as a human being and reflection of the Divine didn’t fit in with the standard, the norm, or what was expected. I have no intention of ever returning.

Tell The Truth: Alone…

My entire time in Trinidad was spent listening to my aunts rave about how great my cousin is while getting annoyed with me for being me, liking what I like, doing what i do, not always wanting to do what they want to do. They mostly wanted little to do with me. One aunt when I was leaving decided she couldn’t even get out of bed to hug me to say goodbye but only recently was up greeting and saying goodbye to my other aunt. I notice these things. I simply nodded my head, said goodbye, and left without looking back. That country is not my domain.

It occurred to me during the trip that I left Trinidad at the age of 8 years old. I’m almost 26 years old now so that’s a long time ago. Leaving there was the best form of advocating my younger self did for herself. Sometimes I get jealous because I wonder what makes my aunts seem so sunken when they see me but come to life when others like my mom or my cousins are around? I think growing up this just use to communicate to me that I’m wrong.

It seems to me that a lot of my early childhood experiences and middle school years were spent being reinforced that who I am and what I am is wrong, that as a result of this wrongness, I don’t belong. But I’m no longer angry at those who made me feel that way through their strong willed, headstrong behavior, their side glances and snide remarks, their loud voices and nagging. I understand that my peace of mind comes from telling the truth and knowing that I’m being honest and sincere while making peace with those people and experiences from my past.

One of the questions I keep asking myself is what’s wrong with me? Why doesn’t my family see me as something wonderful? Why couldn’t they advocate for me? Why couldn’t they be there? My aunt was there for my cousin as was her mother, my other cousin had her parents. I was alone. Well…not quite.

I realize that in all of this God has always been there for me and this has saved me from many a difficult situation when no one else was available or seemed to care. God has always been on my side and I need not worry about the toxic people with their dysfunctional life patterns and desire to project. God has always been there, it was him who gave me the strength to look inside myself and stand up for myself to get me out of Trinidad, it was him who protected me from my grandfather and other potential pedophiles. God brought me to energist when I needed guidance and to learn more about who I am and took me out of difficult schools and situations. It was God who helped me access my divinely ordained gifts. It was god who showed me the truth in all things in his time. I wanted truth and i got just that. He protected me from a lot of crazy that I could’ve been victim to. I was alone but I was never really alone. God has always been on my side as he helped me stand up to the crazies of my family. God was there.

Tell The Truth: Is This Goodbye?

My family hurts me Forcing myself to stay strongly attached to my family hurts me. I often feel scorned and unseen or like I don’t actually feel a sense of belonging with them but rather that I cover myself up when with them. My needs aren’t being met. In many ways, I think I tried to cover this feeling up because many around me claimed to have great relationships with their family. I felt envious because I don’t think I ever truly did feel that. At least not after my grandmother died. Lately I wonder, is it possible to leave my family behind with love? I’m seeking confirmation on this concept. It’s not that I hate them but that I’d like to untangle myself from them to the point where I don’t exactly care to stay in touch often, to call often, to visit often or to have them visit me. For this reason as well as the need for health benefits, I think it would be valuable for me to return to work. I’m so grateful that they agreed to watch my dog while I took a trip to Trinidad. And while I love Django and I truly appreciate the company of dogs, I don’t want another dog or pet after this one. I miss my complete freedom. I’d like to let go of my family in a loving way so that they know that I do still care but that being close to them allows them to hurt me and I don’t want to hurt anymore. Deep inside I feel like I desire better than to feel scorned or unwelcome or forgotten or like I’m a burden or that they’re obligated to love me. They don’t understand my plight. They don’t see it and I don’t feel like they really see me.

I think I’ve attained closure in Trinidad, from Trinidad. I really don’t care to come back. Maybe I just need to honor this concept.