A friend told me,
“We hate when other people limit us, but we always limit ourselves.”
The danger is not in what people say, it’s when it invades our spirits and we begin to believe them. I know I’m not a failure. I know it’s not true, but the emotional implications of my past experiences sometimes sneak their way out of my subconscious and present themselves as my conscious doubts, fears, and feelings of inadequacy.
I’ve searched my extensive vocabulary and still can’t find any other terms that could more accurately encompass what exactly I was dealing with. All these years I had been carrying around all this heavy ass shit! All these words, simple sentences spoken to me throughout my adolescence made any little challenge that I faced an internal struggle with my sense of self worth. All in all, my past was spoiling my present.
This heavy-ass, heartbreaking, soul wrenching, demeaning shit that I thought I’d left in the past has been hiding in the cracks and corners of my life. These thoughts creep into my bedroom at times when my friends, my family, anyone who could intervene on my behalf are out of reach. In the wee hours of the morning, as I deal with the stress of a paper or building my project, they sneak into my room. Well orchestrated thieves, they wait until I am alone and vulnerable. These thoughts come to rob me of my positive sense of self. And I, like a childhood reflex, cup the hands of my heart around the ears of my soul in an effort to protect my inner most self. Unfortunately, memories of past pain unrealized seem to sift through. I am transformed into my fourteen year old self and everything runs together.
“Stupid Girl.You were probably somewhere being fast with some boys, huh? Frisky. Stripper. Prostitute. Fast-Tailed. Whore. Bitch. Nobody wants you anyway. Not your mother or your father. Nobody, remember that. Get your ass out my house and never bring your ass back! Why are you studying all the time? You aren’t going anywhere. Straighten your hair, be a good representation of the race. Always telling the truth. Always got so much to say? Your husband’s gonna beat the shit out of you when he finds out how many men you slept with. I prayed you wouldn’t get into that school. You’re only good enough to be a mother in the projects. Always crying, don’t be so sensitive! You think you know everything. Are you sad because you have one arm? Are you depressed because you don’t have any friends because you have one arm? You would be pretty if…smart if….perfect if….But you have one arm so you can’t, you shouldn’t, you won’t!”
The people that I love the most almost ruined me. While the moments of love that we share are sweet, the moments of rejection are so much more alienating. These were the same individuals that told me to hold my head up high, be proud of who I was and where I come from. And I was, but I was also so conflicted. I come from a family of people who love hard, but hurt even harder. I come from a long line of beautiful, smart, loving, and painfully complicated people. I love my family, but their refusal to take responsibility for the role they play in wounding the spirits of the ones that they love is the hardest thing I’ve had to cope with.
I’ve moved past my anger, so I don’t expect apologies. I only hope for personal growth. I long for the ‘Sorry, Not Sorry‘s’ to be done away with. For the, ‘I apologize if you took it that way’ to finally be put to rest. The ‘It happened, but not like that’ to be silenced. And the infamous. ‘I’m sorry for some things I may have said, but honestly it’s your fault too because…’
Stop it! Just stop. Wrong is wrong. Momentary anger and frustration do not serve as justification to say spiritually damaging things. We must stop blaming the ones we hurt for our own wrong doings. Hurt people, hurt people. If we search within ourselves for the reasons behind why we lash out toward others, why we sometimes tear people down, then we can really address the root of our own personal suffering and progress.
No one of us is perfect; no one of us is wholly and completely innocent. My goal in writing this is not to assign blame, but instead to acknowledge the fact that there is power in acknowledging the pain of your past. As I look back on my experiences in high school, I realize that at any given moment I could’ve strayed from my path, retreated into myself, and become everything I was told that I was. But I didn’t. I had people around me who believed in me when I couldn’t myself. I had people who fought for me, who held my hand and held my secrets. And, I had myself.
The people that I love the most almost ruined me. They almost ruined me because I loved them, respected them, and trusted them with my happiness. But, happiness is homemade, and once I realized that I had all the ingredients, I was one step further to becoming the amazing woman I want to be.