For the last 27 years, my life has been a very unique adventure. It was filled with a lot of unknowns, sadness, discovery, come back stories, love, and joy. It was not what I had planned.
When my Mother died in 1994, I stopped dreaming of what my life would look like. I graduated university and became a functional alcoholic, who hid it well. I was 21 when she died and 22 when I graduated. I was so unbelievably broken having lost my Dad at 16 and then my Mom at 21. Yet, I was a soldier, a survivor, and I hid my brokenness well.
Yet, I couldn’t see past it at 22. I couldn’t see the life they (my family and society) told me I could have if I was just smart in school, dumbed myself down for men, dumbed myself down to get along with mediocre, uneducated white folks, and made myself small because I was a visually unambiguous, proud Black American woman. I was told if I did all that I would have the loving husband who would provide for me. I would be in a job that I would work until I retire. 2.5 kids. A dog. A nice house. Joy. Love. Peace.
I got none of that in the order in which I thought it to be ordained. Lmao.
I struggled with that entire scenario of being the “quiet, good Black woman” hustle. At 7yrs old I figured out that the world hates and abuses Black people. But by god, they hate the living shhhh out of beautiful, smart, lively, exuberant Black women. Especially if you are alluringly or strikingly dark like me. I think the more melanin you have the more people want to see you down trodden, humiliated, and suffering.
And all I want to do since I was 7yrs old is be a free Black American soul.
So I struggled with what society and my family wanted me to be versus who I was.
It lead to me making decisions in my life that felt like an I was always going to war. In fact, “The Art of War” is a reference book I use for living as much as I use The Bible.
Yet I always put my humanity first. Always. Me. First. Because no one crawls into the coffin with you at the end. You die alone. I don’t want to leave this earth with any regrets about who I am and who I wanted to be.
Freedom for Black American comes at a price. This I know. Loving who you want and demanding that you enjoy your Black humanity comes with a price. You will not be free for long.
Living in the UK for a while forced me to grow the hell up and it also damn near destroyed me mentally. I felt the weight of old world racism so heavy on me and I felt so lost, I was suicidal. I hid it well. It only came out when I was pissed up drunk, crying into the abyss about the life I didn’t recognize.
I was hurting because I felt like I was barely in control of my life and in tandem, I felt like I lost myself. I didn’t feel loved. I was always in fear.
Yet, when I kept reflecting back on my life, gotdamn I had done all these amazing things.
For a little Black American girl from 79th Street in Chicago, I went so hard in the paint and I beat all the racist stereotypes. I was brilliant at my jobs. WallStreet, Money Management, Public Accounting, etc. I partied hard in Paris, London, all over New York. I travelled and wanted to see the world. I had interesting lovers and quirky romances. I danced the night away as I became a DJ. I took this one life and I did what I wanted on my terms.
The fairy tale romance. The marriage that failed. The fibroids. The myomectomy. The lonely, sad, geriatric pregnancy. The beautiful baby. The family that fell apart. The divorce that destroyed me mentally. Then the gotdamn comeback.
I’m still in “phoenix mode” rising from the dust. Still. 8 years later. 2 nervous breakdowns later. 2 more failed, painful relationships later. Still here and still rising. Still living.
I PLANNED NONE OF THIS SHHHHHHH. THAT WAS NOT WHAT I PLANNED.
I grew up in deep poverty. I had to fight racism, sexism, colorism to feel free, to feel alive. I’ve had to fight all my life to be seen and heard. So I wanted an easy life in adulthood. I wanted to find that one person who truly loved me and who saw forever in me. I wanted to have a healthy, loving, family. I was going to eventually write a book. I’d work a job, grow old, drink my wine, play my music, retire, plant tomatoes and beat the system that beats the soul out of Black people.
That was my plan.
Welllllllllllllll, um, so yeah that plan has gone to pot.
A part of me now knows firmly that this life, my joy, my discovery, my happiness is far from over but all of that is so rooted in the journey, itself. The destination matters not so much because now I just want to experience love, triumph, adoration, satisfaction, and self -affirmation while I am on the way.
But some very lonely nights, I hug my pillow and I sigh because I struggle with it all. And that’s okay.