How dare I stand in front of my bathroom mirror and not like what I see? Where did I learn that? The notion that I am less than has been subconsciously fed to me through various avenues. You know how it is. The media constantly stitching my God-given features on my white daughters and telling me I should be more like them. How is it that life originated here and expanded so far off the strength of me that it forgot I existed? It think it came from the sky. It think it lept into this place from the heavens and it not grateful for me.
As a Black woman in this country, I have had to learn to love myself above all else. And that has been such a hard thing to do. Imagine having given birth, survived traumatic car accidents, natural disasters, and debilitating post-partum depression and anxiety only to find that those things weren’t nearly as difficult as loving yourself. To be fair, those things were definitely hard and painful but I knew there was an end in sight. On the flip side of that, there is no perceivable end to being one with yourself; flaws and all.
It got to the point that I kept tally of all the things I didn’t like about myself so that one day, when I was financially flourishing, I can get them all ‘fixed’. I was on some, ‘just-you-wait-until-I-get-this-lipo-and-this-boob-job-and-this-therapy-and-this-new-identity-altogether-cuz-it’s-over-for-you-bitches’ type vibe. It wasn’t until after I had my daughter that I realized these hypothetical bitches I was referring to were actually manifestations of my own insecurities. There was no rag-tag group of women telling me I was less than. Regardless of what was on television and social media, I was the person telling myself that I was not good enough. I knew that if my daughter was going to be someone with confidence and a solid contributor to society and the Black community, I had to fix myself by fixing my mindset. So here’s what I did.
I lost my mind.
No really. My Type-A personality of cultivating pure perfection in everything I do unintentionally propelled me to the point of exhaustion and I had a complete mental breakdown. In retrospect, because hindsight is always 20/20, this breakdown needed to happen. I had been working since I was 16, in school for God knows how long, my father was battling cancer and now I was a new mom. You’d think having a kid would have been my out to slow down but no. I kept going, kept pushing, and kept thinking that I could do it all. Be it all.
I was downright defiant when my mother-in-law told me two weeks postpartum is too soon to go back to school. I went anyway and proceeded to write ions of pages at the twilight of night while breastfeeding and that’s when I realized I hated everything about my circumstances. I hated my husband and his ability to remain unchanged by the birth of this new person in our lives. I hated the old childhood trauma’s that I had tucked away neatly in the far corners of my mind that somehow made their way back to my Amygdala and haunted me with a vengeance. I couldn’t sleep. I was eating like no one's business (pre-covid) and had become oddly obsessed with fairy tales; you know, better things. I had completely lost myself and became someone I, my family and my friends, didn’t recognize.
I really wish that I could say a spa day with a slight twist of Paxil was what evened me out but alas that wasn’t the case. Instead, it took roughly a year of connecting and engaging with the sisters in my circle to pull me out of such despair. Collectively they centered me as if they had a secret meeting and decided who would do what. One sister opened her home to me when I needed a change of scenery and perspective. One night another sister and I rode around the city until the ass-crack of dawn talking, laughing, and reminiscing. One flew across the country to counsel me and cook for me. One took 20,000 words from my dissertation and had them woven into a scarf for me to remind me of how much I have done and was still capable of doing. To say that I had to experience such a drastic ‘fall from grace’ to realize that I am loved and I am worthy, would be an understatement.
While losing your mind isn’t the only way to dead a certain mindset once and for all, it worked for your girl. If you find yourself in a similar predicament, make sure you have a team of A-1, Day 1’s to help you rebuild. And as you manifest a newer, greater version of yourself be kind to yourself during the process. Don’t rush to get back into the rat race of work, instead, focus on the rootwork that is needed to ground you and tether you back into existence.
In the end, I deaded the notion that I existed from a place of ‘lack’. Deaded the notion that my life was a constant uphill struggle for recognition and survival. Deaded working harder than others to prove I belonged in white spaces. Deaded antiquated ideas of marriage and parenthood. Deaded faking it because making it was a foregone conclusion for me anyway. And when all of that waste was removed, I manifested my new self on the foundation that empathy without boundaries was self-destructive.
Today, when I look in the mirror and see those flaws that we all see, I laugh at them. Almost as if they’re there just to keep me humble. The more of them I see the more I realize I must have a lot to be arrogant about and I get back to manifesting me.