I’m not big on new year’s resolutions. Especially over the last two years I’ve been trying hard to focus on self improvement each and every single day. It isn’t always easy and I’ve had quite a few major backslides but in order to keep existing in this world I’ve had to believe that if I just tried a little bit harder for a little bit longer I could make myself okay.
If I’m being totally honest with myself though, I haven’t been trying my hardest. I’ve been towing the line between doing what I need to do to be okay and protecting someone who hurt me even when the latter was in direct opposition to the former. As I’ve often done throughout my life, as I was socialized to do as an upstanding member of the Black community, I put what I thought were the needs of my community and the needs of others above myself. I was determined to make it work: heal and become whole without talking about what I went through or what was happening. I was determined to keep smiling and keep laughing and make it work, because that is what Black women do; we make it work and we don’t complain.
At some point though I have to admit that it’s not working. At some point I have to use words like “rape” and “abuse,” “mental illness” and “suicide.” And I have to say it out loud, not whispered within the comfortable confines of my bedroom that I am not okay. It’s hard and it’s scary and it hurts. Above all, I don’t want to disappoint the people around me.
What I’ve realized though is that I’m doing everyone a disservice by presenting a facade that not only isn’t real, but isn’t possible. So in a way this is still not about me; but in the most important ways it is: right now, I’m just determined to survive and the truth is I can’t live another year like 2015. I can’t continue to ignore my friends when they ask how I’m doing because I don’t know what to say. I can’t continue to avoid the things and people I used to love because I’m afraid of who might also show up. I can’t continue to beat myself up when I see the pictures wishing that I had been brave enough to attend.
Today, on the last day of 2015, I’m saying “enough.” I’m not going to bring any weight into 2016 that is not mine to carry. It’s the last day of the year and I’m ready to lay my burdens down.
So this week I am going to publish a series of things that are really, really important to me and really, really personal. I have been working on how to say these things, some of them at least, for over a year and I finally have something that I feel okay about. So that being said, I’m going to ask a huge favor: I want you to read them, okay? Or at least think about reading them. I have thought about whether I wanted to share this for a huge while and gotten up at 6am to walk and think about it for months. The truth is, it didn’t take me long to write, I knew what I wanted to say and once I got going it just flowed out. The scary part is this right here right now. I knew there was a chance that just writing it for myself would not be the end of my healing process although I hoped to God it would be, and once I had something down on paper I would have to figure out what to do with it or continue to obsess. So obviously this leads back to you; if you love me, if you like me, if you think I have a cool haircut, I want you to think about reading these next few posts. I thought about saying “if you hate me” too, but honestly y’all can sit this one out if you want. A lot of you who do like me, may feel some type of way about some of this because life is complicated and not black and white and almost never as it seems, so I’m going to say now this isn’t about anyone or anything but me and my healing. I’ve been silent for a long time and it lead me to a place that I almost did not make it out of. With my decision to do everything in my power not to go back there, comes a necessity to use the voice God gave me to tell my truth.
The first piece is semi-about a past relationship and mostly about my journey through hurt.
The first piece is about why I cut my hair, and unlike what you might think, it’s not about becoming a member of team natural (although that’s been fun… Sometimes) but about my relationship with my grandmother who passed away from cancer in June.
And third and finally, is a piece about my journey to the edge of the cliff and my attempt to leap, what it means to survive when I decided I wanted to die, and living with mental illness.
All of this, for me, is scary as hell. Writing this has got my hands shaking and tears falling but the truth is it feels better than clenching my fists and grinding my teeth and squeezing my eyes shut; it feels lighter. And to be clear, I’m not asking for anyone to validate any of my words… But if I’m going to be a role model for someone, it’s important to me tell the real story complete with grief and struggle and even suicide as opposed to giving into and perpetuating some of the same dangerous ideas that I fell victim to to begin with. This is going to be triggering and upsetting for some and that I totally understand… Take care of yourself first. But for those of you who can, all I’m asking is that you bear witness.