Today, I walked by a 30 something year old white male in the deli section of the local grocery store. Standing at least 5’10” and 200 or so pounds he looked as if he wanted to shrink and hide himself in the midst of everyone and everything-not exist, disappear. To say I felt his every emotion communicated through his non-verbal language is an understatement.
Everyone tells you about the joys of being a mother. The love, the intensity the bond, the joy. But they only relay a portion of the story in doing this and intentionally leave out the other things that certainly become your monsters under the bed that are so real to a 2 year old. They neglect to highlight the unending pressure, complete isolation, constant expectations, and the feeling of never, ever, being good enough. No-no one mentioned the way your life immediately and forever changes once you look into that infants’ eyes and suddenly your life is not your own-you have no control. All of a sudden almost every title I ever held became void, absent and irrelevant. Mom was now the only one that mattered. Everything came second-everything, not necessarily a good thing but that’s what happened. Almost 8 years later and this still remains. Taking time to write this entry alone feels selfish. Enjoying a day or weekend away is deemed irresponsible, negligent at best. These norms-whether they be self or other imposed feel beyond unreasonable.
It is time to re-negotiate this contract-not with them, but with and for myself. I must create space. Tell me; what is the cost of freedom?
I can vividly remember the exact moment and situation that I felt the emotion of pure sadness. A glimmer into an emotion I would have to learn to conquer throughout my life. I was in my room and was cleaning up a staged bed wetting accident I attempted in hopes of getting attention from my mother. It didn’t work; she paid no more attention to me than she ever did and all I knew to do was cry. It hurts to know that this would set the tone of our relationship; disappointment, hurt, anger acceptance that she would never love me the way I needed from my mother.
I don’t cry for her or that relationship anymore-it’s done. Those who were supposed to protect, ignored, shunned, even…..nevermind, I digress. In my room, the radio was on and a brand new song was announced, ‘I Need Love’ by LL Cool J. I heard all the lyrics rapped out by this Caramel God but all I could think about and keep repeating was the line, “For the first time in my life I see I need love”. How timely. That became my mantra; my state of being, what I believed could save me and make everything right. And maybe, it could have worked-I’m honestly not really sure. What I have learned though is that love has many faces and some aren’t so pure or fulfilling. Love to some can be outright selfish, demanding and self-serving even if they do not see it…life lessons I suppose.
“For the first time in my life I see I need love”
LL Cool J
As a young woman I never realized how much I would learn from relationships, connections. Connections that can cause hurt and pain even when things are good. Understanding that all that you allow within your sphere can now hurt you, even when they are not trying. Their pain becomes your pain just as their joy you can feel also. When others including yourself hurt those you love the pang is real, deep. Looking back, had I realized, I would have negotiated those relationships and connections more carefully, more selfishly even. Currently, caught in a constant cycle that never lets up, never stops and feels unforgiving I know the error in my ways. Allowing others to expect too much, believing I’m beyond reproach, beyond human. And then, disappointing them…all. Indeed, had I looked deep enough from the start I would have seen it was set up to fail from the beginning. Of all the choices-I still made the wrong one.
She said that self-care is a choice yet self-protection is pure survival. A necessity that must be carved in and prioritized. I guess you can call that my “AHA” moment. In a crowded restaurant, over a hurried lunch, in the midst of being in the eye of a career, political and personal storm all I could think of was this current realization; I am more than this circumstance. No matter how difficult this season of my life and this damning position is, it will pass. Things will settle and I will still stand (in some form or another), and to do this, I have to honor and attend to my well-being above all. Self-protection.
“You cannot pour from an empty cup”. -Unknown
So many connections, countless relationships all wanting, needing, demanding to be tended to, watered, nurtured-like plants in the garden of life. Lately my relationships are like succulents, thirsting for water then learning to conform without, turning colors due to deprivation until they are fire orange and red-screaming for attention. How will I fill my cup? Not with tasks, that has been done before and proved to have a high fail rate.
Meditation to start my day
Letting go of the need to constantly be productive
Learning to be okay with a…Pause
Embracing friendships and building on my village
I have to constantly accept and realize that what may be fulfilling and restoring for another, even one I view as very similar to myself likely will not mean the same for me. Constant stimulation and engagement I need to avoid. I must relish in the Quiet, be enveloped by seclusion where I can recharge and regenerate even if others do not realize this fact and even think this is counterproductive for my end goal.
I’m going to look for my glory yeah/I’ll be back real soon/I’m going to look for my glory yeah/I’ll be back real soon. -Solange
Sometimes the best thing we can do for those around us is to tell them “I’ll be back real soon”.
There is a story that brought me to this point but I do not know if that is significant right now. A quote my assistant taped to my screen at work reads, “Sometimes good things have to fall apart so better things can come together”. I literally rolled my eyes the first time I saw it, but realizing that she was just trying to comfort me as I had done for her, I got it, and it still remains there. Lately, so much has fallen apart-and come together, it is almost nauseating to think of all the transitions that have occurred in the last two years. It is like walking a familiar labyrinth that I frequent that helps me to acknowledge the bumps and yet remember that the path is really the point of it all.
Through a series of twists and turns, U-turns and complete roundabouts I have head-on faced some of my deepest fears; loss, hurt, isolation, loss of sense of self, humiliation, you name it, it’s happened. “When you have faced your biggest fears head on, there is nothing left they can do to you”. I have discovered that the closer I find myself to my truth, my origins, the more fear is evident and I experience it as a natural emotion. Because I do not know what may lie on the other side my fear is valid and real and something I will not apologize for. This fear keeps me human, and full of compassion for others who may be experiencing this same emotion for a variety of reasons that I need not ever understand. Although social media would have me believe otherwise, I know I am not alone.
“We don’t change because we get comfortable in our discomfort, we’ve grown close to the stories and narratives we replay in our minds and we no longer know who we’d be without them. We remain stuck when we forget our original nature…”. I am choosing to remember.