W is for Worth | The Layers Of Beauty Tour

There’s a quote I come across often from Plutarch that reads:

“What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.”

My favorite picture of myself this year was a selfie I took for my 28th birthday. It was simply a close-up of me and my sons, laughing at something silly one of us had said or maybe a standout line we heard from the TV that got us to laugh simultaneously before the flash went off. My hair wasn’t done and from the back, I had patches of my tresses falling out. My eyebrows looked a mess. I was bold enough to take a photo inches away to expose the chipping in my nails that a filter couldn’t hide. I didn’t realize I had captured one of my best candids on my worst side until after the fact.

But I decided to ditch the photos of my face adorned in MAC products and my hair pressed well enough to pass for a perm, for the picture of my self-love shining through. This was me at my happiness. This was me at home, in my comfortable zone where I am no one spectacular and yet everything to myself. I am not an award-winning blogger here. I am not the writer. There are no mentions of social media recognitions and followers. In this space, I am just Erica; just Mommy. I wanted the photo for my new year of life to represent me in free form.

Because for years, I kept myself caged in the confines of people’s thoughts and opinions of me. The boys I called men dictated what was beautiful and picked apart the very flaws I’ve grown to accept or love like scabs. I let them play with my hair and their suggestions of what would be better for me, what was more fitting to bring out my features, what was best for my crown, was determined by someone who treated me far from royalty. I let them touch me in places I dared not touch myself. Other people knew my body better, and the fingers that traced my curves left an outline I did not draw for myself. I was accustomed to letting other people determine my worth.

My mother made me feel uncomfortable about my hips and my breasts, leaving me in an affair of confusion when I saw young women my age embrace who they were and what they had. I couldn’t wear clothing that would accentuate my figure, and drowning my body in fabric that didn’t fit followed me well into my adulthood. My partner questioned if I was ashamed of what I had. After years of being touched by other people, we experienced years of my skin wanting to be both left alone and held. I still had not learned to make contact with myself and fought with falling into the recurring pattern of letting other people do for me what I should do on my own.

So when I watched other women come into themselves, it was a lot of “who am I?” and “how dare they?”

How dare a woman define herself? The audacity of a woman to love who she is wholly. What kind of courage did it take for a woman to stand firm in her identity and exude confidence on her own, even with a man by her side? I wanted that.

I dressed in ways the women I envisioned as beautiful would dress and I found a stranger in every glance in the mirror. I read self-help books, chicken soup for the soul-style, until I regurgitated what I was feeding myself because it didn’t taste right. I needed something with more substance. I needed to talk to myself, drop the beauty standards of society, axe away the people who had the power to stamp a label on me, and figure out myself in order to find my worth.

I cut my hair to start over. I didn’t want the residue of someone’s fingers in the past to come with me on this journey. I threw out the same clothes that hide who I was. In the morning, I had conversations with myself in the mirror and told the woman I saw it was going to be okay. The beginning was the hardest. A girl was still holding on and she didn’t believe things would get better; didn’t think she could move on on her own. But the more the words seeped into her spirit, the more she looked at her reflection and saw a light.

Something a man couldn’t create. Something her mother couldn’t deter. Something magazines couldn’t teach. Something makeup couldn’t enhance. Something that was buried underneath the expectations and the rules of society, but was always there.

Someone asked me when did I fall in love, and in a cycle of putting myself in the forefront for the first time in life, I asked them in return, “with myself?” It wasn’t until recently and I’m not ashamed of that. It took my sons looking at me and telling me I was beautiful when I was dolled up or dressed down. It came after my partner rubbed his fingers through thick, Black girl hair and gently buried his face in it–a sign that I was okay as I was. It took other women of color finding their magic in their melanin and exuding a strength that can only come from rising above a state of oppression. It took me realizing that everything I had ever wanted–the best, love, happiness, security, comfort–already lied in God’s creation. Myself.

 

This post is part of The Layers of Beauty Tour created by GG Renee of All the Many Layers.  Follow the tour through the blogs of 26 women exploring the complexities of womanhood and beauty from A to Z.  Click here to keep up with each post and enter to win a giveaway package of goodies for your mind, body and soul.  #LayersAtoZTour

H is for Heartbreak | The Layers of Self-Discovery Tour

This post is part of The Layers of Self-Discovery Tour, created by GG Renee of All the Many Layers. Follow the tour through the blogs of 26 women exploring the complexities of womanhood and self-discovery from A to Z. Click here to keep up with each post and enter to win a giveaway package full of goodies for your mind, body and soul.
#LayersAtoZTour
I wrote this post over a ton of times already. Something’s off. Something’s missing. I sit here now typing away, trying to tap into that space – attempting to transport back to a time where the organ that matters most, barely moved and I looked together but felt broken. To be honest, I’m still living on a cloud, experiencing a high from the events of last week. God had me write this over and over, not to shake me from the rush, not to take that moment away from me, but so that I could remember something in particular and wouldn’t forget.

This is a self-discovery tour. I guess it’s time I write a post to myself. Let’s try this again… for the last time.


Dear Erica,

Do you remember that time you stopped creating? Stopped feeding your spirit and stopped producing art? Do you remember?

Do you remember that moment you devoted all your time and attention to your craft and it was overlooked? Remember when someone produced mediocre work and somehow got it right? Did you forget about the time you realized that someone had the right people in their corner and didn’t have to put in as much work and it worked? Remember the time it broke you and you were jealous and angry – at yourself, at others, at God? Do you remember?

Do you remember cringing at the words “full potential,” fearful of being vulnerable and opening yourself up, being receptive to new avenues and ventures, asking yourself what good would it all be if it were to produce the same results, over and over? How about that time you refused to pick up a pen? You fought with your own fingers. You wrestled with your own heart. You were afraid. Your disappointment in yourself was the cause of your own heartbreak. Do you remember?

Do you remember your mustard seed faith and mountain-sized doubt? Remember shoo’ing off the positive affirmations and confirmations from the Universe that this is what you were born to do because you planted disbelief in your mind and couldn’t fathom something good actually happening to you? You had the audacity to tell people to keep writing and yet, you didn’t. You sat in front of computer screens and pressed keys for the sake of pressing keys but cultivated nothing. You thought there would be no fruits to your labor. Do you remember?

Do not ever forget what got you here. Heartbreak got you here

Don’t you remember how you felt when he left you? You didn’t have a crutch to lean on and needed to support yourself. You didn’t have someone telling you you were beautiful anymore, you actually needed to get up and go face yourself in a mirror and say it – out loud and in painIt took time, but you got there eventually. Don’t you ever forget those bouts of depression. Don’t forget the days you didn’t even know a whole day had gone by because you sulked under your covers, in a pitch black room. Don’t forget it. 

Don’t forget where you came from, what got you here. Heartbreak got you here. It was not easy, but it was necessary.

You wrote a post stating certain things needed to happen to you. You had to crawl up out of some shit. You had to look fear in the face, had to have a little one-on-one with skepticism, a few come to Jesus moments and more than several conversations with yourself on the emotional afflictions that soaked your soul. You had to read some books on self-love, bible scriptures on deliverance, patience quotes from the Goodreads website. You had to look at your kids in their eyes and tell them things will be okay and then actually believe it for yourself. Heartbreak got you here and heartbreak helped you; healed you. You got your heart back because of a heartbreak.

Please remember…

Love always,