I rewrote this post about twenty-something times now. I typed, typed, typed my little heart out and at 1,429 words, I read it over, contemplated on publishing it, and ended up nixing half. I tried to build off of what I had kept and still the words didn’t flow how I wanted them to. Write, reflect, remove words, revise the whole thing; that’s all I’ve been doing. I turned to one of my closest girlfriends – my journal.
I opened her up, looking for a fresh page to jot my frustrations on, and found an entry three days after my twenty-sixth birthday that pissed me off even more. Going over the words, I commended myself for the ability to hold back. Yay Erica, you didn’t let those tears you’ve been meaning to let out, out. Shout out to you Erica, you kept your mouth shut about situations you had the power to change. Wrong, wrong, wrong. I don’t know how I confused reservation, limiting myself and denying my right to openly express how I felt towards my family, friends, and in my relationship, as strength. I held myself back, held on to the wrong people, and hindered my own growth.
I went on to read the next few entries, noticing a cycle of the same scenarios starring different cast members. I wrote down something that I heard during an argument about scapegoating, “It’s always other people, but never you. When do you step back and take responsibility for the things you do?“. The next page, a quote (not my own), “after creating a pattern of attracting selfish and disloyal people, I realized my disloyalty to myself was being projected subconsciously.“
All of this shit happened in order for a shift to happen. In me.
For far too long, I’ve placed blame on other people, telling myself that occurrences were due in part to the faults go others and never my own. It was easy to point the finger, forgetting three more were facing my way and the phrases, “It happened because he…” and “She was the reason why…” became a regular. But when I sat myself down one night, in an empty apartment and two empty bottles of wine, and reflected on everything that was going wrong, I noticed the problem lied within myself.
I was feeding myself things I had no business partaking in. What I indulged in, became me. The energy I gave off, I received back tenfold. If I really wanted to change my situations, if I truly yearned for growth, I had to come to terms with the fact that a lot of healing lies in responsibility. I made excuses and enabled bullshit. People were comfortable doing the very things I despised around me because well, folks will treat you in the way you display yourself and the boundaries you set. I thought I had it all together but reality will present the work that’s happening inside before people even notice what’s going on outside. That speaks a whole lot louder than what can be covered up.
My outlook was a reflection of what was happening inward. I’ll never forget my coach telling me there was nothing wrong with feeling the things that I felt, that my emotions were there for a reason – the guilt, the exhaustion, the emptiness. It was trying to tell me something but for as long as I suppressed myself yet, supported others, I’d forever land in a place of stagnation. I mastered the art of cursing out and cutting people off, however I needed to check myself. I had to release those emotions and remove/release myself from people.
For a while, it was a lot of, “it’s not you, it’s me”. People close to me didn’t understand what was happening and at the same time, I didn’t either. Diverting my energy into myself was unfamiliar territory when I was always used to making someone else the nucleus of my life, but exposing myself to the world of self-protection felt right. I needed to talk to myself and be outright honest, even if it hurt. My sorority sister said something profound that embodied everything I felt in the course of this period:
“I’m one of those people who can drown in a project or a person or obsession. And I’ve found it so critical to take a step back because distance allows you to see past the muddled sentences of the every day and to the bigger beauty of the work you’re doing.” (Elizabeth Acevedo)
I had to fall back. When I got through serving explanations on pretty little platters to people, I got to the point of, well if no one understands, I guess I’ll see them next lifetime.
“How can you receive an increase where there hasn’t been an investment? Reap when you have not sown? Harvest when you have not planted?” – Bishop TD Jakes
I’m here now – modifying and mending pieces of me. To receive that increase, to reap the benefits and fruits of my labor. Some things I can cut in half and do over. Some things I cannot edit. I got to deal with the fact that some things can’t be deleted. I’ve come to the conclusion that I can’t find closure in certain situations without acceptance first. I need to be more adaptable. I need to be passionate about the respect I want. I need to be stubborn with how I want to be treated by others. I have a right to forgive and not forget. My inner-child needs healing. Healing is progressive. There’s a difference between being better and being whole. You are no better than what you eat. As I grow, I will outgrow others. I have to create a habit of following my intuition. I have to keep on shamelessly expressing myself. I’m a work in progress – the artist and the art.
I learned all of that in the past year, in addition to what I wrote here.
How this post finally came about was the sum of my twenty-sixth.
And I can already see what twenty-seven will hold: Purpose. All I can say is, I’m grateful.