- Sometimes I worry about what people think of me. Usually when it’s too late and their perception of me is virtually set in stone.
- I struggle with depression. There. I said it. Well, by said…
- One day my past will be a story. When that time comes I will remember how I felt when watched The Contender.
- This weather is especially, ekspeshaly horrid for single people in cold homes who have trouble falling asleep.
- Celibacy is the best gift I ever gave myself.
- Three-day weekends for mothers and all women over 35 should be a thing. I feel like if we don’t make it a thing womanhood will die a horrible death.
- I am a teacher. I have much to learn.
I take up yoga because you say she wasn’t flexible enough
And I swallow my wit because you say she wasn’t serious enough.
I wait for your desire to rise because you say she couldn’t get enough,
But the bold truth is that for you I am entirely
– Not too much me, don’t mistake me,
I know I am enough,
But too much for you to have,
You don’t deserve,
Your heart is not big enough
To love all of my awesome.
I write and delete texts
Because you say good-morning-I-love-yous are stupid
And I stop wearing lipstick because you say
You don’t like make-up
But the truth is that I am too much –
Too in love, too pretty,
– Not too much me, don’t get it twisted,
Your hands were not big enough
To receive my big love.
I twisted myself into strange shapes
To please you,
Became a shadow of myself
To keep you.
I didn’t know that you were not mine to keep,
That what you have between your legs is
Actually community dycke.
I didn’t know then what Sister Waheed taught me
About not making homes out of people
And that trying would kill me.
I’m not one for drama so I won’t say you killed me
But I am one for truth and the truth is I almost killed me.
I forgot my divinity and fell in love with yours
But that could not work –
I could not breathe
Under the burden of becoming yours
When I needed to fill my lungs
With the joy of becoming me
In the presence of you.
I don’t blame you,
Not at all, not even a little bit:
I am pearls and I am rubies,
And I am not for everybody.
I stand tall because I survived you and I
Lean back –
– Too divine to live in the shadows.
My heart may crack
But my light will not be dimmed by such as you.
You too were light and like the moth I hungered
To be consumed in your inferno –
You’re going supernova
And I refuse
To settle for what’s left-over.
I cannot do for you what you ought to do for yourself
But I can do for me what you thought I couldn’t.
I can choose me and I can walk my path
And I can wear this tiara
Until my king gives me his crown.
This might be cliched but cliches are that for a reason:
That you do not see my worth does not make me unworthy
Floods of memory and washes of pain soaking into flesh leaving indelible scars that will forever tell the story of who I once was.
Little welts of raised skin that I will one day caress and describe as the foolishness of youth –
No more difficult to explain than the involuntary flinching at sudden movement and raised voice –
A new day shall dawn and mourning shall cease, heralding a brighter vision and a new goal:
Heal. Get better, and then get well. Tell your story without fear and live your life without shame.
I behave badly sometimes because I’m human and because Petty is my middle name. I’m also overly sensitive and have a tendency to overreact to perceived slights, imagined or otherwise. Also, I have no filter and say the wrong thing all too often. I know what I am.
That said, as I get older I find myself more concerned with doing the loving thing and authenticity than I am with being agreeable and liked. I have found, in these the last years of my thirties, that I don’t need to keep in touch with everyone no matter how much I once loved them, because people outgrow me and I outgrow others, and that’s ok. I know where I am.
I have found, in these ‘woke’ years of my life that my path is mine to walk and my spirituality mine to develop, harness, unleash and enjoy. I don’t need any one to cosign my beliefs and while teaching is at the core of who I am, I too am still a student and can’t teach everyone everything. Not all moments are teaching moments and being grown is knowing the difference. I know how I am.
I have found that I am most free when I enjoy each moment for what it is, neither yearning for an imagined future nor longing for a dimly lit past. I have found the most power in learning myself and loving what I find, completely and without reservation. I know that I am.
I have found, in these the most single years of my life, that I can be happy and fulfilled without a romantic partner, and that living as a sexual being is not just about the sex I’m not having, but about letting my creative self free, and embracing and revelling in my God-given femininity with and without the male gaze. I stare into the deep dark abyss and conquer it every day; I know whose I am.
Every now and then I manage to take a selfie that makes me stop and think damn, girl you’re so pretty! It doesn’t happen nearly often enough partly because I have long since resigned myself to the fact that photogenic I am not. That said, when I look good, I look effin good, even if I do say so myself.
I grew up feeling decidedly unfeminine. In fact, for a period of about two years in my adolescence I got my kicks from hearing people ask – is that a girl or a boy? I have always been ‘that tall girl’, and with short natural hair and no ‘breasteses’ I was able to play a boy with ease. In my late teens I developed hips and could no longer be mistaken for a boy, but I was still flat-chested and self-conscious about it. It was the one thing about my body that I hated, that I blamed for all my troubles, romantic and otherwise.
As a young adult woman I still didn’t feel woman enough, and I didn’t understand the concept of dressing for my body and feeling comfortable with my look until I was a fully grown woman. Other aspects of my personality combined with what I saw as a masculine figure (hips notwithstanding) and what I saw as an angular and therefore masculine face, led to me embracing all things boyish -oversized jeans (this was before skinny jeans and jeggings, before men wore both), oversized shirts, oversized everything. For all intents and purposes I rejected femininity, prettyness and softness. My style was mostly androgynous, with a few hot numbers thrown in when I wanted to be sexy.
That was me for the longest time: a weird mismatch of hot woman and boyish girl. I was confused about womanhood because I felt I was living it wrong, I felt wrong in myself. Not like I was meant to be a boy, no -except for the general misogynoir (not a typo) and the monthly bleeding, I quite like being a woman- but I felt like I wasn’t doing it right, I never felt quite comfortable or at ease, I felt like I was on show all the time, always acting, never just being.
It was draining and tiring and I was angry and sad all at once, but no matter how many bwe (black women’s empowerment) blogs I read and regardless of how often I changed my look (I had a flat-cap phase, a skirt&tie phase, a pant suits phase, a beat-face every day phase…) none of it rang true for me. Some looks worked better than others, received more compliments, but none of it felt like the authentic me.
And then, I found myself.
In 2014 I fell pregnant and in 2015 I had a baby girl. I found out the sex at month 5, and once I did, I resolved to figure myself out once and for all, for no other reason than that I did not want my daughter to inherit my gauche awkwardness, my lack of gracefulness. I imagined her being free to express herself as she wanted, and I wanted to be there, supporting her as she discovered herself. I knew I could not support her growth into womanhood unless I did some growing of my own so I did some hard thinking, some experimenting, a lot of soul searching and introspection and I found myself, but more importantly, I liked what I found.
When I see selfies like the one above I smile to myself because these days I like what I see in my photos, I like it enough to have selfies online even, on Instagram nogal, something I thought I would never do.
I look at that picture and I see a glimpse -it’s just a photo, it can only say so much- of the woman I’ve become and the woman I’m still growing into. A woman who has found her world and her place in it; found her stride and is walking her path. I see a woman who has embraced her womanhood and is living her life on her terms: unapologetic and unafraid, pretty, secure, resilient, loving, lovable, and loved.
You may look at this picture, at any picture of anyone and see only image that you may love or hate, but I see the woman I struggled to become, the woman I freed from that self-inflicted shame of ‘doing womanhood wrong’, a woman who understands what she is and who she is, and is taking her place gracefully and with poise, and with good humour.
Every now and then I take a selfie that makes me think, damn, girl, you’re so pretty, and I smile to myself, with myself, because for the longest time I didn’t feel pretty and avoided the camera. For the longest time I didn’t know who I was and saw no beauty in myself, but now I can look at myself and think – mama I made it, I became the woman I was born to be, and I’m still becoming her.
I don’t know if it was pregnancy hormones, or God, or something else altogether that was the catalyst for change, that led to me embarking on that journey of self-discovery. I just know that I am here, mothering, womaning, and effing slaying. I thank God.
Freedom, much like trust, cannot be picked up off the street.
I don’t know about you, but I’m thirsty for my freedom and hungry for it, knowing as I thirst and hunger that what will sustain me, this thing they call freedom, already lies within me.
Freedom is not external to who you are, it is inherent, intrinsic -congenital, if you will- but not inherited. Real freedom is not inherited.
What I have to do, and you, is find my freedom and live it. Not a narrow life because freedom is a wide life, not meanness because freedom is generosity; because you cannot be free until you understand that what you seek is already within; that you do not grow by stunting others’ growth; that the universe will not take from someone else to give to you.
You are not free until you understand that life is a journey to unshackle yourself, not a competition with anyone else.
Freedom doesn’t come, isnt found -whatever the term is for pulling something out of yourself, something bright and wonderful and sacred-
-Freedom will elude you, and me, until we’ve faced and conquered our pain, our fears, our lies; until we’ve choked on the Truth and on our personal truths.
You won’t know freedom until you know Truth, because freedom walks hand in hand with Truth.
I cracked then I broke but I raised myself up, mended and polished the rough edges,
Sanded the corners smooth like the glide of the lipstick I wear daily because everybody needs their armour.
I made myself hard where others are soft, jagged edges, sharp corners –
Fragile and strong because I created myself out of the contrariness of my life, pulling from heat and cold and dark and light,
Moulding myself from the hidden yet freely available grace, filling my spaces with both the stolen and wilingly given words of the world,
Stitching together my heart’s pieces with the divine thread of a natural self-love.
I do not deny that I am afraid, frightened because much has been given and in return much from me is expected; but I am bold because I cannot turn away from that which I know to be my destiny.
“You’re not good enough, simply not enough.” The voices. Mutterings rising from the dust of my past like the unwanted memories of gone lovers,
Words biting just as they did in that Unforgotten but never to be recalled past.
I swallow the white man’s muti to deafen the voices, breathe in the new silence as the black woman’s incense burns forcing demons to flee and giving angels voice.
I cling to truth that brings freedom and peace. “Darling. You’re all you have.”
Art: Black Queen Work by Sarah Golish