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.

 

 

 

Age 26: What’s My Focus?

By grace I am still alive. By grace I keep moving. I cry at the drop of a hat these last few days, realizing so much about myself and the way in which I view the world. I want to know what it means see self-love in action. One of the things I know is that I like myself. I think I carry some really great attributes and that I put in the effort to be the best person I can be and to develop myself. I like me. I care enough about myself to keep going and I enjoy my own company. But I feel like in the past I have done the right things for the wrong reasons.

To love oneself is to be happy with the person you are, to celebrate who you are, to feel a sense of completeness in your own being, because you exist. Not because you are expecting some sort of reward or social recognition by doing so. To love oneself means to look at myself in the mirror and allow myself to see who I truly am and to appreciate what’s staring back at me in the mirror because what I see is beautiful. It means to really see myself and love her as a beautiful reflection of the Divine from a place of knowing, not expecting others in the world to validate this knowledge.

I’d like to focus on self-love.

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.

 

 

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: My Relationship with Others, The Divine and With Myself

I want others to acknowledge me as positive. As a result, sometimes I say things in a voice that isn’t always indicative of how I really feel. If I am angry, I might lie and say I am not. Because to feel anger is not what I judged to be positive. If I feel my boundaries have been crossed, I might not say anything, simply hold my breath and pray that it stops. If I dislike the energy of a place, I might not say so but instead turn that onto myself and ask if something is wrong with me. It took me a long time to admit I disliked working, living, being in Washington, DC. Never liked it there for myself. But I never admitted this to myself or others. I never said a word. Just kept pushing through and trudging on. I kept hearing my mother’s words in the back of my head from when I was a child. “Be strong”.

And so I tried to be. And ‘Be strong’ became ‘Hang in there’, ‘suck it up’, until one day I had no choice BUT to admit to myself that I was burnt the off out! lol

I think God wanted me to go back to DC. I think God allowed me to go work in that NICU and experience the madness of the personalities I dealt with there, the anger, the rage, the attitudes, because He wanted me to see and know beyond a doubt that that was not the place for me. I was not welcome there. And I do not miss it. Sometimes I ask why did I have to go through half the hell I went through in recent years. Really. Why all the pain? But when I look, I see it was the inability to be honest with myself, to acknowledge the truth and to trust the truth when it hit me right in the chest! This is why I changed the name of my blog. Because I understand now that value of telling the truth! The diehard, sometime ugly, sometimes painful, sometimes not so positive, ‘what I want to hear’ truth! So here it is.

I am angry. I have been angry for many years. I am angry because I have been hurt. I am angry because I allowed myself to believe lies, to allow people to deceive me. I am angry because I engaged in many forms of self-deception throughout the years and as a result continued down a path that allowed me to continue to be hurt. I am angry because I tried to appear light and care-free about things that mattered to me. I am angry because I didn’t recognize that I mattered and as a result I allowed others to take advantage of me, to abuse me, to lie to me, to manipulate me, to tell me lies and allowed myself to believe them. This anger turned inward became resentment. This resentment led to a heavy weight on my chest, weight gain, depression, exhaustion, and more anger. I am angry because I allowed myself to believe that my quest to belong, to be accepted and to feel loved, was really a quest to understand who I am. My belief was that those who follow a spiritual path would be loved and accepted by more. I expected to have more friends, be more beautiful, have more support, feel a greater sense of belonging. I am angry because the truth is that I didn’t do all of this work specifically for me. Subconsciously, I did it for others. I am angry.

The truth is that I never fully took the time to figure out who I am while not in alignment with some other person’s truth. By that I mean, I never took the time to validate myself. That is why I started this process. Validation seeking. I wanted to know that there wasn’t anything inherently ‘wrong’ with me. I wanted to know that I wasn’t inherently ‘bad’ and that others in my world weren’t mistreating me or hurting me as a result of my inherent badness. When I ask people if I’m ‘wrong’, I’m not just asking others if what I said was wrong. I’m usually asking on some core level if I am wrong. And if I am wrong, I want to know why. How can I fix it? How can I improve? How can I cleanse myself of my inherent ‘wrongness’? The truth is, I think I associate painful events happening with my own inherent badness. The truth is that on some level I think God is punishing me and I’ve been trying to get on His good side ever since. Because if I were inherently ‘good’ then good things would happen. I’d have friends, I’d lose weight and tone up, I’d be happier, people would be more supportive of me, I’d have a better work experience and more doors would open up, and everything I want would come to me. The truth is that for some reason which I am not quite sure of I have some core belief of my own badness.  As a result, I don’t think I truly trust that God has my best interest at heart.

I think somehow, some belief at my core is that God is punishing me; thus, why trust a being who made me in His image and yet somehow is punishing me for being inherently bad and wrong? I’ve been trying to prove that I am a ‘good girl’ for as long as I can remember. Yet I feel as though God is often on the lookout for my own inherent badness. I can’t fully trust God and as a result my prayers are often made with caution. I am often reluctant to pray for anything good because I think God wants to give me something bad or unleash more pain in my life. And this makes me angry. I try to control a lot of situations in my life and as a result my shoulders have gotten tight and I feel pain in them because I am trying desperately to minimize the pain that I think life or God is trying to make me go through. Even though I learned that suffering isn’t necessary for growth, I often think that God wants me to suffer nonetheless. This makes me scared, angry and distrustful of Him.

Somewhere in my core are these beliefs about who I am and who/what God is. And even though I encountered the Divine, who felt and is an all-loving entity, I cry, I fear, I distrust, because I still suffered after encountering Him, because I didn’t get everything I wanted and worked for, my truth didn’t quite align with the truth of those in my immediate surroundings, and I still sought validation of my own ‘inherent goodness’ from others.

I wanted to be recognized and valued as something beautiful, wonderful, and special. The way I hear others speak and affirm others as something beautiful, wonderful and special. In my life, that seldom felt like my experience. My experience is that others often look for ways to tear me down, manipulate me, lie to me, control me, embarrass me, compete with me, or show me up. My experience has been that others do not like me, do not want me around, and do not treat me as a valued and respected member of society. This made me hide and retreat inward and away from others. I became afraid of them because I didn’t want to feel persecuted for what seemed to be that just being who I am was wrong. They always say ‘just be yourself’. I didn’t realize that it meant others would talk about you, ridicule you, persecute you, or try to make you feel bad about who you are and what you’re doing.

My experience has been that even when you aren’t really doing anything wrong, others will try to make you feel as though who you are and what you’re doing is wrong. My experience has been that people will mistreat you and others will take their side in the injustice. 

I’m looking to give myself compassion. I have beaten myself up while attempting to offer others forgiveness and compassion. But I have not been compassionate to myself. Over the years I have judged myself very harshly as being inherently ‘wrong’, and inherently ‘bad’ all while trying to prove my innate goodness.