My Path to Peace
This morning I woke up utterly content and rested. No racing thoughts. No clenched jaws. No fatigue. No anxiety.
As I watched the sunrise, I contemplated how I got here.
I spent most of my life feeling like a failure and a fraud. It was only in small glimpses that I ever felt truly, tremendously happy.
Do you remember the last time you felt tremendously happy?
Were you conquering an amazing fest?
Were you immersed in your zone?
Were you with the love of your life?
Were you strutting in the fullness of your power?
Before I was 31, I was sure what it meant to be tremendously happy. Even though I hadn't attained it yet, I was confident that as soon as I got the house, the marriage, the kids, my life would be complete and I would walk in a field of daisies for the rest of my life.
I wasn't prepared for the miscarriages that deemed my womb a grave.
I wasn't prepared for the insecurity and ugliness that my marriage brought.
I wasn't prepared for the difficulties that home ownership and then foreclosure would bring.
I wasn't ready or willing to admit that maybe I was a failure and a fraud though the shadows of those thoughts invaded my sleep and each waking moment. Instead I busied myself and thought, if I could just keep busy, keep changing, keep learning, keep perfecting, then maybe the taunting ghosts won't be real.
Plus, I didn't trust God to fix anything for me. I saved God for keeping the plane in the air during my many panic-ridden flights across country. Other than that, God was a tease to me. I was angry.
"How could you give me a vision of happiness only to take it away from me. Why did I keep dreaming of babies and having insurance and sperm donors and artificial treatments at my disposal, only for each and every embryo to die? Why did I dream of my wedding and my happily ever after for so long, only to feel like I was in hell most days? Why was everything failing so epically?"
I took matters into my own hands, or at least I thought I did. Clearly, I was the only one that could fix this. And that's what I was good at. Fixing things. Or so I thought. In retrospect, I realize I was only good at making shit pies (#Minny #TheHelp). I was good at turning off my emotions. I was good at being busy. I was good at giving. I was good at rescuing, hiding, moving, avoiding, stuffing, excusing, blocking, not needing, not asking, not requiring. Not living.
If I could just be better, do better, give more, correct the flaws, serve penance, then I would get the reward, I thought. I still hadn't learned the lesson. I still was believing that I was the root of the problem and that salvation would come from perfectionism and acceptance from others.
I tried to change. Closed my mouth more, tried to be softer, prettier, less awake. Fasted for 60 days, wore white, abstained from mirrors, abstained from sex, slowly did not speak another word. In that time, my hair, I grew past my ankles. I slept on a mat on the floor. I swallowed a sword. I levitated. Went to the basement, confessed my sins, and was baptized in a river. I got on my knees and said 'amen' and said 'I mean.’ - Warsan Shire (from "Denial" as performed in Lemonade)
I set to work. I asked for a divorce. I packed up all the baby stuff. I faced my money story and repaired my credit. I hit the 700 club. I got a new job with a new title. I hit six figures. I started a business. I published a book. I enlisted more doctors and subjected my body to being a lab rat once more. I bought a new house. And the stars aligned and I got a second chance with my ex- wife.
I was finally living the dream. Why wasn't I still waiting for the other shoe to drop? Why was my soul nagging at me? Why was my body still failing me?
"Your ceiling will be your floor," God said.
"I'm not sure if I'm ready to trust you," I said.
And then it was all gone. Again. I was a failure. Again. This time I didn't even see it coming. This time there was no slow motion slipping down the cliff. This time, the earth quaked one loud thunderous time, the ground opened, and just swallowed me up.
I was devastated. I was stunned. I was numb. I was embarrassed. I was humiliated. I was betrayed.
This time I stopped. I simply quit.
I stopped writing. I closed my business. I retreated. I surrendered.
It took me 6 weeks for me to believe that my relationship was really over. It took me even longer for to realize that I was willing to sell my soul to keep the perfection script going. It took 6 weeks for me to pray, "Oya, take away everything that is not for me and only bring what is."
Grief and loud silence, I submitted to them. Ugly cries, loneliness, empty rooms. It's all a blur now, but at that time, it was happening in slow motion. I marveled that I was somehow still able to stand during the turbulence, that free-falling began to feel like flying.
When your heart and home are empty, when you finally submit to loss, when you meet the floor with your knees and your mouth, you can hear God clearer through Her winks, nudges, angels, orishas, and spirits. You see the magician's cape on the backs of your friends. You see the rich silt that Oya's storms leave behind.
I followed the breadcrumbs that led to desire, pleasure, learning my names, healing my body, sowing my garden, becoming the Queen over my dominion.
I learned to love and listen to my body
I quit dieting and food "challenges"
I chose the people who I wanted to spend time with
I stopped talking to others, no longer obligated
I chose pleasure in all her forms, vowing not to be celibate
I sought support in therapy and friends and God
I opened my heart to my spiritual Pantheon
I learned what forgiveness truly meant
I forgave myself for ever thinking I wasn't enough
I gave myself permission to live
"If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive.” - Audre Lorde
And once I stepped onto my throne, I see the land turn to gold. I see that the visions of happiness weren't illusions just for fairytale, escape, or cosmic taunting. I see that those childhood and 20-something dreams were gifts, a hint about what was possible for me, but never the ends in and of themselves. I see the journey was necessary to teach me my magic, my superpower, my healing, my bliss. It was necessary to show me my purpose and my calling. It was necessary to equip me for liberating other black women to the divinity that they are.
That you are.