Before social media, before the internet, before cell phones – I was a tall, lanky, nerdy, opinionated Black teenage girl who LIVED OUT LOUD. I was motivated by the likes of Nina Simone, Chaka Khan, James Baldwin, Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks…. I was motivated by these ethereal Black Americans to live boldly in my Black American humanity.
I wore my heart, my anger, my curiosity and my kindness on my sleeves. Engagement, honestly, broken-ness, fragility – I was always a girl / young woman who happily enjoyed allowing people to see pieces of my humanity. I had hoped that in some divine way, me living my truth would help others hurt less – because the truth was I was severely damaged and just trying to “make my own way”.
When I started losing myself, I lost the ability to write my own thoughts and feelings. I fell into alcoholism very quickly on more than one occasion. I was trying to numb the pain in my head and my heart. And when I’m in pain, I shrink. I hide. I withdraw. I go and hide in my own world. Devoid of words and sounds, just suffocating silence and internal screams.
As the years progressed during my “lost years” as I call them, I became engulfed in my depression and suicidal thoughts. I lied a lot. I lied to my close friends, to my family, to my neighbors.
“Everything is okay.”
“I feel okay. Sun is up. I’m happy.”
“Everything is awesome.”
I lied and I hid myself in plain sight. I cried in the closet even when I had guests in the house. The shame, the guilt, the depression, the confusion… hiding it until that perfect storm of shitty emotions met “divorce despair”. It all came crashing down in 2012. I couldn’t hide anymore. 1st nervous breakdown in the books. It was LOUD, HORRIBLE, EGREGIOUS, PAINFUL and I was so tired of hiding I put all my mental mindf___ on display because I didn’t want other people going through this to feel alone and I didn’t want to be alone in my pain anymore. I was tired of being around people who supposedly loved me and feeling exceedingly alone and broken.
I look back on the “lost years” of my life and when I did – in that moment – I saw memories of when I was happy. A few photo(s) I took when I wasn’t overcome with fear that people were going to find out I was suicidal and depressed and sad. But there were TOO FEW OF THOSE GOTDAMN MOMENTS CAPTURED. My saving grace is that I unconditionally love my child and I took so many pictures of us together, it seem to be a silver lining through those “bad years”. Those pictures seemed to depict normalcy, love and kindness. Something I felt devoid of outside of my Motherhood.
After I climbed out of NB1 (nervous breakdown no. 1), I decided to DOCUMENT ALL MY HAPPINESS. I decided to chronicle those moments so that if I became mentally incapacitated again, I could look and remember that I AM A WOMAN WHO LIVES OUT LOUD, WITH NO FEAR, WHO INVOKES KINDNESS AND WHO LOVES WITH THE POWER OF A 300 STRONG ARMY. I AM THAT WOMAN, I DESERVE HAPPINESS. So when I look back at those moments of happiness, they are silver linings in the clouds of depression I struggle to manage some days.
Seems extreme but after my mother died, I remember her being depressed all the time. When she died there were less than 5 pictures of us together. There were less than 5 pictures of her smiling and laughing. Did she even enjoy her life after her violent divorce from my Dad? What she even capable of breaking free of her own depression to experience momentary joy? I became riddled with fear that this too could be my gotdamn fate.
And I decided…. NO THE HELL IT WON’T. My story will be different and that’s why I chronicle my happiness and sometimes my pain, but those moments of sunshine I share them out loud, in your face so that I can remember that my humanity touches people and their humanity touches me.
I never wanted to leave this earth with my child not having tangible evidence of me loving on her, laughing with my friends and being human – imperfectly fabulous.
I LIVE OUT LOUD now, like I did when I was young. I take pictures. I create art. I send silly messages. I talk about my feelings sometimes on social media. I am making a chronicle of the good times where the universe and I were dancing to the same tune. Again, I don’t ever want to leave this earth without these moments being tangible, tactile and terrifically visible.
So I don’t give a flying f___ who is annoyed about my “oversharing”, I do this for me. I do this for my sanity. I do this as an act of SELF LOVE. Don’t hate me for it, love me through it or get the hell out my space. Most people don’t give a damn about me other than what I can “do for them” and I know those people don’t really love or care for me… for they know they don’t belong in my story because my story is transparent now, it is filled with honesty, kindness, uncomfortable truths – but it’s damn amazing and they are not worthy to make the cut.
Let this closing be a proverbial middle finger to those who chastise who I am – without knowing my story and picture me telling those who would censor my happiness to “shut the f___ up and suck up all my shine as I soar, buttercup!”
LIVE, LAUGH AND LOVE OUT LOUD.
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