After fighting what felt like the one hundred year war, I am at peace. The cannons are silenced my brow is sweaty and my body aching. Dust clouds the horizon but does not and cannot guise the warmth of the sunshine over the scorched earth. Battle was here. War scratched at the epidermis of this earthly body but the soul remains in tact. Though the soil be barren I lay as if there were a field of flowers and I smile because I am at peace. My legs cry out from miles of wear but still the joy courses through my veins and radiates out of my fingertips. I am alive. My hair unkempt and beard overgrown, I am not handsome but in my survival I am glorious. By virtue of my tenacity birth right of fortitude and byproduct of courage, I am divine. I allow the earth to swallow me, surrendered not to my enemy but to my Creator: I am yours. I am returned emerging from water clean and healed My God says, “You are your own.”
I woke up with the taste of blood in my mouth. I’d be chewing the inside of my cheeks. Scratches on my legs and shoulders. Seven outfit changes and my face dripping sweat. It was back.
I pushed myself out the door and through my work day. Part of me wanting to admit I wasn’t okay and part of me reveling in the fact that at this place, this now place no one knew me as sick. Damaged. Broken. Fractured. Hurt.
I couldn’t decide what it was I wanted or what I needed. I was out of my “in case of emergency” pills and I hadn’t received my new insurance information to get more. I took off all my clothes and laid in bed, utterly exhausted from dragging myself through the day.
I wondered if I made a mistake by accepting my new job. I shook that idea off. I hadn’t. I just had to learn to manage it all. To balance it all. It was about learning to live with anxiety. To not let it run my life and overtake me as it had before. I knew better now, surely.
I am never going to be the same again. And for once I can exhale the pressure of feeling like I have to.
I’m going through withdrawals. Literal withdrawals from being out of my anxiety medicine. It’s a problem I can rectify soon, but at the moment–withdrawals. As a result, mornings are less peaceful and more scattered than normal. So I’ve had to pick one thing to do rather than my usual routine. Sometimes meditation is easy and what feels right. Today it’s writing. Though words were my second choice…
I wanted him. But in a very different way than I’d ever wanted him before. It was a boundary neither of us ended up being willing or able to cross. I’ve been trying to tell myself a different story about intimacy, about trust. It doesn’t fit me yet but I am hoping maybe I grow into it…or it grows into me. I would love to learn that not all men are selfish. My step dad isn’t. Neither is Ted. So it’s possible. I always thought love affected people in similar ways. It makes us all a little stupid, giddy, reckless, free…we would do anything for the person we love. Not everybody loves like that.
I thought of all the things coming my way. Buds of opportunity. It made me nervous. Here I’d asked God for guidance and support and I was being lead to places that took my breath away. Am I the person to handle this? Am I truly capable?
I held two stones in my hand. One felt smooth and familiar. My palm easily accommodated it and I knew when I tried to skip it down the river, exactly how it would land. I had control with that stone. I had experience. I felt safe. Then there was the other hand that was sweating and gripping a misshapen piece of sharp granite. Beautiful, but queer I didn’t know what to make of it. Was it for keeping? Was it for skipping? I had no idea what to do with it other than hold onto it and wait until an answer arrived. Patience, uncertainty, discomfort. That was this stone. But that is what I asked for. I asked for growth and I promised surrender. Here is my chance to trust.
I feel the kind of vulnerable you feel when you’re naked in front of strangers. Reaching for any piece of acceptable fabric to shield you and provide a sense of discretion, safety, relief. It isn’t always as easy as changing the outfit on a paper doll. Sometimes we just have to stand there and be naked.
I had someone tell me recently that they do not identify as Black because alignment with the word also meant alignment with all of its negative connotations. I declined to comment because this particular person would not have heard me anyway. But this morning I woke up thanking God for my blackness.
I am the amalgamation of the spirit of absolute greatness. People who looked like me built this nation. Not only that, we did so under such horrible duress that it is nothing short of a miracle we survived. But we did because it was never in God’s plans for us that we would be extinguished. It was not then, and it is not now. We are buzzing with life force energy, how could we not be when our skin absorbs the sun?
When I think of the courage of my people, Black people, I weep. We are amazing. We inspire awe and steal breath. We entertain and captivate. We defy gravity and have created the molds for physical prowess and perfection. Our hair stretches towards heaven. Our noses, broad though they may be, allow us to intake more of the creators power. Our lungs become filled with life and our bloodstream pulses with vitality. We are the prototype from which all others were modified. Make no mistake, it is us. It was us. It will always be Us.
So really, it’s no matter what you call me. Black. Colored. Negro. African-American. I know what I am. I am magic. I am sunshine. I am source. I am Royal. I am life. And it is only to Life I will respond, all other is not my name and falls deaf on my ears.
My wish for my people is that we begin to see our own magic. That we open our eyes to the wonder we hold and refuse to accept a reality that does not uphold what we Know of ourselves. I want to sing songs of my people for my people so that they may be uplifted and reminded of the splendor we embody. I want us to recall the God that dwells within us and throw our heads back mouth opened towards Oshun, feet wet in Yemayá and heart beating to one word: Ashe.
I just keep hearing Idina Menzel singing the words to me, let it go, let it go! For her in response I had a million reasons why I couldn’t. Yet when I play them back in my mind they seem awfully insufficient and dull. Why do I want to hold on to the things (and people) that hurt me so badly? Is there ever a good reason for it?
The best explanation I could come up with was that, I’d come to understand myself through the lens of that pain. In relation to that ache. And if I dared to let it go then I wouldn’t have a grip on who I was anymore. Only that was not true. That was only what the short sighted ego would lead me to believe. My soul and truest self knew better.
Let it go, let it go!
Over and over the words played in my head whenever the painful memories came to mind. There simply wasn’t going to be room enough to hold both the old hurt and anything new that should come along. And what if that which was to come was good? Was I willing to sacrifice the opportunity to hold joy for my doggish determination to continue housing pain?
I got into a few conversations about sex yesterday with different people. In each exchange we discussed the complexities that exist in this primal act and how much more it can mean beyond physical pleasure and release. I noticed a struggle I had internally as someone who loved to discuss sex openly but yet shied away from it because of what it can mean to be a woman who loves to discuss sex openly. I didn’t feel like a slut or a whore or even the slightest bit promiscuous but many of my actions were spent dodging and avoiding affiliation with those words. Does it make me anything in particular if I openly admit to enjoying sex?
In one of my conversations I explained to a friend how much I’d learned about myself, and how I’d grown through sex. It taught me about accessing myself, becoming open and available. It’s taught me about acceptance. It’s taught me about sharing and compromise. It’s pushed me to explore different mixtures of my masculine and feminine energies. It’s taught me trust and also how to better listen to myself. All of these things and yet if anyone were to ask me how I learned them, would I dare to share?
I recognize on one hand sex, by and large, is extremely taboo in our culture. Despite the fact that everyone is having it (or at least enough people to continue propagating the species). However, for a woman to openly own her sexuality, sensuality, desires and pleasures it often comes at a price of her reputation and her character.
In behind the scenes footage of the making of Beyonce the visual album, Pharrell told Bey that her singing the song Rocket was going to set women free. She talked about her own hesitancy to release such a forward and sexual song, among others on the album. She found her own peace around it stating she was a wife and a mother and gave herself permission to access her full sexuality. Well…I am neither a wife nor a mother. Does it make me a slut if I decide to do the same?
Releasing the shame around sex is, in my opinion, one of the best ways to begin to truly enjoy sex. And for me, I couldn’t hold the idea that I was wrong or bad, sullied or soiled in any way and still have positive sexual experiences. So I let them go. Sexual freedom has taught me how to be myself more fully in other ways as well. I’ve grown into my voice more, become less timid and afraid to say how I feel. It’s taught me how to hold steady in my truth.
I wished I could’ve felt this way earlier in life. I wish I hadn’t been so critical of my own and others’ sexual expression. I wish I had not bought into the idea that a woman who likes sex is bad. I wish I had dismissed the idea that a woman’s worth is inextricably connected to sexual purity and the virginal ideal. I wish I didn’t feel OF COURSE men rape, because they’re taught by our society that they should be the sexual aggressors and women are the coy and naive conquest who really does want it, despite what she says.
Recently I made the assumption that the man I love would not accept this part of me, my sexually open self. We discussed it and he made it clear that that was not the case, and it only felt weird because I was perceiving it to be so. Of course he was accepting of sexual me. He was accepting of me, period. And that part of me shows up despite even my conscious efforts to keep it at bay. I wish I didn’t assume people would judge me for being who I am.
One of the ways I want to surrender this year is to my Self. I want to be and exist in my own full glory. That includes being sexy sometimes. That includes being sad and happy and powerful and yielding, too. I want to surrender to being human and thereby having access to the full human experience. I don’t want to house shame around pieces of me, lest of all my vagina–the Mecca of my ability to create. I no longer want to wish I had or hadn’t. I am ready now to trade wishes for will.
Sometimes life presents little time posts, small hints that let you know you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be. It’s the night before I fly back to San Diego and I found myself unexpectedly emotional. Laying in my sisters bed wishing there was a way to somehow pack my family up with me in my checked luggage. Tears dampened the pillow case as I explained my sadness to P2AD, and it’s root cause.
I’m sad because I feel better here. I am nervous to leave because I was falling apart there. I was falling apart because of anxiety. I have anxiety because of PTSD and I have that because I was raped. It was like a gust of cold wind slapping me in the face as I told him the abbreviated version of my 2015. He was sorry. I cringed. I hated those words. I tossed them atop of the pile with all the others and responded with gratitude. I couldn’t stop crying so I said goodnight and left him with my ill shaped thank you.
I set my alarm for 5am and then changed it to 5:45. An hour was plenty of time to throw shit into a suitcase and toss on a dress with UGGs. I didn’t care about my hair or make up. I knew the hardest thing I would have to face in the morning was saying goodbye to my mother.
Hours prior we lay on the sofa, full of popcorn and wine watching This Is Where I Leave You. After a funny scene with Jason Bateman and Adam Driver getting high in the Temple basement I pointed out to my mother that Adam was wearing sunglasses and a crown. She smiled. Two hours before the movie I asked her if she’d seen the Dave Chapelle meme posed with money and a crown. I googled a picture and tried to replicate the pose while wearing her fur coat (an item I was wearing to lift my spirits). “You don’t have sunglasses on!” She told me. I searched the house unable to find a single pair of sunnies. Sad, I settled for my regular glasses and poised with my fur and my crown I snapped a photo and showed it to her side by side with Dave. She smiled telling me I was crazy.
“Mom! I’m clairvoyant! This is exactly where I am supposed to be right now.” She just said okay but I knew I was right. Jason was home to mourn and deal with loss and so was I. And just like the characters in the movie, tomorrow morning I would leave and I would carry on with my life.
I saw the crown and sunglasses and knew God was telling me I was exactly where I was supposed to be. And even though I am sad to leave I know that too is the right thing. I like when God sends me signs but I must say that my heart always knows when it’s right. My job is just to be quiet and listen and every now and again keep my eyes open for the time stamps.
I used to feel bad for wanting more. Small servings of mediocrity I trained myself to like the ache of hunger.
Quiet tones and hushed voices, don’t be a bitch. Don’t ask for much. Be gracious for what is offered and give yourself the rest. I feasted on the meal of so-called sufficient women. Framing my foreclosed self appraisal as sexual independence.
Too afraid to ask for what I wanted yet alone demand it. I settled. Over and over again accepting crumbs for companionship. Moans for meaning and pools for oceans. But now I wanted more.
Unable to quiet the growl in my belly any longer my soul cries out for sustenance. I wanted to swim the depths of someone until my lungs cried out for air and even then I would dive deeper, forcing evolution I’d learn to breath in new ways. I wanted to be lost so completely in the wood of him. I wanted volumes of words to be written on just our breaths alone. I would dance to songs of our silences and float downstream in the rivers of our laughs.
I wanted to explore the galaxy of us, his moons and my sun. Wedding new stars and birthing planets which held all of us and the possibility for that which only our composition could create. I wanted to taste limitlessness on his lips.
I willed our chance meeting determined that I would not fear him when I met him. That when I looked into his eyes and saw the deep blue of an infinite universe I could hold steady and meet him with my own guiding light.
Our alchemy would be such that we spoke a language indecipherable by others. I would mix poems and lyrics with riddles and rhymes and he would laugh knowing exactly what I meant. Answering and adding his own allusion and alliteration, finally my heart would cry out…more.
My word for 2016 is surrender. It was my word three years ago and it’s back again, only with slightly different context. After the hell that was 2015 there came a point when I could no longer hold all my pieces. It was as if God designed it that way so I would have to employ serious discernment on what to continue holding and what to let go of. When I dropped my heaviest burdens, the peace I felt was indescribable. It was then that I knew I needed to sit down and carefully sort through “my shit” before I moved forward. Not only that, I would need to surrender the things I could not hold to a power much more capable than me. In other words the title of 2016 is Surrender: Letting Go and Letting God.
With my peace came a need for truth-telling. A sort of radical honesty that helped me to better understand what I was holding and how it had come to pass. With some things I noticed patterns and I then had the opportunity to ask myself, “is this how you want to continue? If not, what do you need to do to change your outcome?” It wasn’t as simple as actions or even thoughts. I wanted to completely change the mental terrain in which some of my most undesirable patterns had been allowed to flourish.
For example, I have a nasty habit of allowing men in particular to treat me poorly. I can’t simply say, I’m not going to allow this anymore! Because it’s subtle. It starts as an icky discomfort and me wondering if I’m overreacting or misinterpreting. And over time it slips into long periods of hurt feelings and insufficient apologies. I forgive them for this reason or that, but I’m left feeling somewhat displeased and disgusted with myself. I ask myself what am I gaining from this? Is attention worth it? Sex? Companionship? Anything to soothe the ache of loneliness… It was then that I realized Surrender also meant opening myself up to heartbreak.
When you develop a relationship with delayed gratification, giving up “right now” pleasure for long-term peace, it can sometimes hurt. You can feel things you don’t want to feel and sometimes turn to vices and addictions to get it of. Our egos are fragile and tell us we can’t endure it but our soul knows we can. Our soul is not afraid to try and fail because failure is part of success. Our ego tells us we cannot survive heartbreak and we must do everything in our power to avoid it. So, I had to say no. Here I am, and I am available for heartbreak. I am strong enough to withstand it. I am resilient enough to rise from it. I am courageous enough to try again. Because I am focused on something bigger than the hurt of this moment.
This year surrender requires me to believe something different of myself entirely, not just my actions. I think this is why the word came back to me. It was time for another level of the work to be done. Triple loop awareness, it was time to change my consciousness; alteration and upholstering of the entire contexts which held both my blessings and burdens. I needed to understand who I’d been believing myself to be because it was she who had found herself in this predicament. Then I needed to come to terms with who I really am. Dropping the pretense and being radically honest with myself. I had to love myself better. I have to love myself better. Because I truly believe that we show people how to treat us. It was time, it is time for me to stop accepting crumbs for meals. I am worth more than that. And if someone else can’t see it, that’s okay. Because I am available for heartbreak and I’ll survive that rejection. And that of any others who dare to appraise me for even a penny less than what I am worth.
What I knew was that in the past I held back too much for my liking. I had been so afraid of rejection or judgment that I’d forgone even trying to avoid the pain. I told myself I wasn’t being stupid, I felt like I was being true. Honest.
I told him he intrigued me. I thought I could like him and I thought if we both dropped our acts, we could like each other. I wasn’t sure if he was ready for that. I wasn’t even sure that his was an act. Perhaps he was as distant as he sometimes felt. But, I wondered, do kisses lie? I had an inexplicable warmth being held by him. I could recall it by memory and though it was fleeting it was delicious.
I had an awful knack for seeing past a persons scars. For seeing them in all their potential and for looking at them square in the eye and viewing who they really were. I often grow impatient waiting for others to get a glimpse of themselves as I see them right away. It’s not uncommon for us to miss our own magic. I Saw him. I did not know his whole story. I didn’t know his reasons. But I knew he had a good heart and he was much softer than one might ordinarily anticipate.
Maybe, I considered, it was a selfish act. To want to feel as though my love were worth the vulnerability and that my care was worth the risk of heartbreak. Did I need to feel worthy that badly? I acknowledge that it could be true in part. I also acknowledge that it may be partially true that I simply felt something with him I hadn’t in a really long time and I wanted to feel that again. Often.
Stupid girl, I’d sometimes call myself for knowing the odds were against me and acting anyway. Nodding to both the side that knew better and the side that dared to try anyway. Does courage assess risk?
I closed my eyes and saw us back on my couch. Me holding him close…and I let myself fall asleep dreaming the reality I longed for. At least in this moment.