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.

Tell The Truth: Maybe I’m Not Wrong OR Right

I’m not angry with my family anymore. It’s not anger. I’ve learned that it’s important to forgive everyone for everything. Instead, the fire that burned in the barren wasteland, turned to ashes. Now, there where the ashes use to be is a beautiful forest. I’m not angry. Instead what I feel is compassion for my family. They did the best they could with what they had.

For years I felt the need for justice. I wanted to be right! That was always the overarching theme in my desire for justice. I wanted to be confirmed right while the others had to be wrong. In this, I would seek an apology, justice, confirmation. I then came to a new realization: What if I wasn’t wrong? What if I’m not wrong? What if NONE of us were wrong? But…what if none of us were right either?

I’ve come to realize that I am on a quest for truth. I want to know what’s true for me and of me. So many of the beliefs I acquired were acquired subconsciously, without them being directly taught. The impact they had were substantial. I realize now that I’m not “wrong” or “bad” for feeling what I feel or thinking what I think or looking at life the way that I do. But I’m on a quest of constant self-examination and evolution, more and more becoming who and what I really am. And I realize that for a long time this is the battle I have been dealing with.

I have been asking the 5 Whys and the H of Inadequacy for years. These are the questions I have been asking myself: Who and What made me wrong? When did it happen? Where did it happen? Why am I not good enough? And how do I fix it? In the past I wreaked rage and anger towards my family because they were the ones I felt taught me the most untruths about myself. I understand now that it was projection and I am no longer angry. They were trying to fix me as a way of fixing themselves. “Look good” when I go out was their way of trying to make themselves look good through me. It wasn’t really about me. It was about them just as the experiences I have and the things and people that get to me are about me.

I’m starting to see myself everywhere. I will quote Iyanla Vanzant on this one: ““I have no fear of seeing my Self, knowing my Self, being my Self.”

 

Reference

Vanzant, Iyanla. One Day My Soul Just Opened Up: 40 Days And 40 Nights Toward Spiritual Strength And Personal Growth (p. 307). Touchstone. Kindle Edition.

 

Tell The Truth: The Fire Turned to Ashes

During therapy, I told the truth about all the anger I felt. I explained that the solid boulder I felt in my heart had transformed into a fire that burned throughout my chest. I could see the flames. My therapist instructed me to invite the energy of my mother into the fire and tell her everything I was feeling. I did.

I wish you had the courage in yourself to advocate for yourself. If you did, you would’ve had the courage to advocate for me. I wish you had more love for yourself so that you wouldn’t have projected all of your self-disdain onto me, your daughter. 

That was all I had to say. My therapist asked how I felt and what images I saw. I didn’t know how to explain it at the time. I needed to process. I simply said I felt sore. All the areas that the boulder blocked, all the areas that had burned with flames were gone. I imagined eschar being removed from a wound so it could heal. I didn’t tell her that. What I saw was ashes. Throughout all the areas where the fire had burned, in this seemingly vast wasteland, ashes were now in its place.

One of the things I asked my therapist was whether or not healing meant having to be ‘best friends’ with my mother. I do know (or use to know) people who are best friends with their mom. I told her how I noticed that my cousin often goes into a baby voice whenever she speaks with her mom and that she tells her mother everything. While I thought this was cute, I didn’t want to have that kind of relationship with my mom. I wanted to be able to keep some things to myself if I so chose to. She said that was okay. The truth is that in that moment I sought validation for who I am and what I wanted. She asked if I could honor that. I said yes and felt relieved.

My therapist asked what it is the little girl in me needed as it is possible for me to give her what she needs. I said a voice. She needs to be heard, she needs to continue to tell the truth, be sincere, be authentic, she needs validation and a support system that works for her. Lastly, she needs to advocate for herself. I asked her why these people treated me this way. She said from what I told her it seemed as though they saw me as being strong and resilient and could handle them. I can see this. My original thought is that they tried to break me. But I realize now that they were all cowards. They were scared and taking their fear out on me because I was the most vulnerable.

 

 

Tell The Truth: Day After Mother’s Day

I am chronically angry. In public I smile and say hello, I’m polite, im helpful and I’m nice. But deep inside, I’m angry from years of having it communicated to me that I don’t matter in some way, shape, or form. I’m angry because for years I have been told that in some way I am wrong. This never stopped.

I remember my experience in the NICU where I use to work in DC. All I felt there was anger and distrust. I remember trying to talk to them about what I thought, how I felt, what I needed. Again, it seemed like it was communicated to me that I didn’t matter and I didn’t belong. I tried to stick it out like I always do, forcing myself to stay in situations where I often can feel and know I’m not wanted. Because that’s what the strong girls do right? You don’t let people make you quit your job. But I never worked in a place where I felt so much anger and hostility. Only one and I vowed never to return.

I remember the patient care manager in this NICU. Under the guise of keeping it real she would unleash so many insults, threaten me and say I’d be blacklisted from the hospital for 7 years and that other institutions talk. If she only know how much I had disliked this place. But I didn’t trust them there. I tried and would always be cut off. I felt like I was the outsider and I didn’t belong. And the truth is, I didn’t belong. I didn’t like the energy I felt there or how those who had been there a while would all team up to talk about any newcomers who weren’t exactly like them in some way. I didn’t like that everyone knew each others business and people were constantly gossiping or knew about each other’s personal lives. I wanted out. I used my options.

My family looks at me like I’m a complainer. But the truth is I’m trying to be heard. When I look, I realize that it’s not my ‘family’ I’m angry with. They hurt me for sure. But most of my anger is directed towards my mother for not being the support system I needed as a child. The truth is, since I’ve begun to untangle, I realize that she couldn’t be that support because she still isn’t able to truly support herself emotionally. She’s only now beginning to learn and her voice gets stomped out by the bullies of the family (her two sisters). I realize that all the pain she exacted upon me is what she either had put on her or what she put on herself. She couldn’t do any better. Even when I try to point it out to her, she couldn’t hear me, maybe because as her offspring, my voice didn’t matter if hers didn’t. But that doesn’t make me any less angry. It only makes me hate her more. I can’t imagine seeing my little 10,11,12,13,14,15,16 year old girl cry and hearing her say how her father’s refusal to call her or spend time with her for years even though the two of you are in a relationship makes her feel neglected and abandoned and turning to my daughter and basically blaming her for her absence and neglect. How is she suppose to feel? She felt invalidated and worthless. That’s how she felt. And ended up with a boy who further made her feel invalidated and worthless.

I’m angry because I realize that the little 6, 7, 9, 10 and 13 year old in me mattered just as much as the me I am today does. I’m angry because I realize that I always deserved a voice and was entitled to my own opinion but the grown ups around me didn’t see it that way. I was ‘wild’, I was ‘different’, I was ‘rude’, I was ‘weird’, I was a host of names but these people were not nice and allowed others to do and say not nice things to me. They didn’t allow me to have a voice, they didn’t treat me like I mattered so much as they didn’t want me to make them look bad. Shame. Guilt. Control. That’s what I grew up in.

Grandma, even though I can’t remember a single bad thing about you, I can’t help but feel as though somehow you contributed to the cultivation of all of this. But in my heart, my mother plays the biggest role. I don’t like her. I don’t respect her. Yesterday was mother’s day and I was even more angry with her then than today. Sometimes I feel like I’m just waiting for her to die so I can finally stop feeling like my very being is wrong and like I don’t matter. She keeps me tied to people who constantly seem to try to make me feel like I’m wrong and don’t matter. Why God why?