Surviving the Storm
Thunder is roaring. Lightening strikes are everywhere looking like flares going through the air. I can hear the rain beating against the house. My phone alerts me of a tornado warning, and immediately the house begins to shake. Items start falling off the nightstand and I reach my hand out to catch them. A picture falls off the wall and I stretch my other hand to grab it. The dresser starts to tilt over, so I position my body to block it. One leg is extended to keep the chair from falling, while the other leg is planted firmly to maintain balance. I drop my head in agony. Screaming from the pain of feeling my body being stretched beyond norm. I can feel my body aching, and the pain is beginning to break my mind. Then the rain stops. I no longer feel the house shaking, so I look up and before my eyes, I see that the walls have fallen and everything has been destroyed around me. I lost everything in the storm - EVERYTHING but my life.
For the past several months, I have been living in this metaphorical storm. In the midst of it, I stretched and bent myself trying to save everything I deemed valuable, including my sanity. I would condemn myself for having moments of emptiness and feelings like I wouldn't make it. I felt like I couldn't love myself in the moments when I was weak. I didn't have the courage to express what I was experiencing. I've been wearing a smile and refusing to allow myself to cry in moments when I really needed the release because I was trying to be a "strong black person."
So many times throughout life, we're taught that strong black people don't have moments of brokenness and that natural, healthy human emotions are only for the weak. We condemn weakness in our community. We can't be depressed because God won't put more on us than we can bear and we can't ask for help because we're conquerors. It's all a myth. It's all rhetoric made by the black community because for so long we have been treated like less than human, that we feel the need to be superhuman. But the truth is, we all experience these emotions and moments of defeat. For me, it happened this summer. My spiritual beliefs told me that I would be victorious because of who I am and whose I am, but my eyes only saw the daily defeat I was experiencing. My body only felt the pain of emotions that run deep through your veins in moments of sadness. My focus was only on everything I lost. Until this past week.
Last week, in the midst of bearing the storm, I realized that the most important part of this storm was not the lost that I was experiencing. The most important aspect of this storm is the pain; because the pain reminded me that I'M ALIVE. As horrible as this storm has been: as crushing as it has felt: I'M SURVIVING. I have my sanity. The pain will force me to either adapt or evolve. I choose to evolve and every new day is an opportunity to build someone better than who my old self had been.
To anyone living in a storm, I implore you to lose the notions of what it means to be a strong black person, a strong woman/man, or any other role you play. Understand that feeling emotions and taking time to process them are natural. Learn to love yourself in the moments when you fall short of your expectations. Self-love requires you to love yourself on the good and bad days. It requires you to forgive yourself for the bad decisions you've made and the consequences you're experiencing. Self-love is not a final destination or goal you'll achieve. It is a continuing practice that will grow with you. And please remember, even in your darkest moments, someone sees the light shining from within you. So grow girl/boy, glow!
A special thank you to everyone that has allowed God to use them to bless me when I least expected it.