I’ve been out of it. Since writing my #JourneyOfYou post, I’ve felt this massive hole in my being, realizing while composing the piece, that I really don’t know jack shit about where I come from. Out of guilt and a feeling of emptiness, I called my grandmother and asked her if we could sit down and talk about my family history. My Granny’s fairly young for a grandparent, sitting pretty at 68, but with the spontaneity of life, you just… never know.
This reoccurring theme of family haunted me on my bus ride into D.C. last weekend listening to the man next to me tell me about how his daughter is coming to pick him up after our bus broke down. I thought, ‘who would do that for me? Where are they?’ It slapped me in the face seeing Tyece’s family come to support her event and longing for that same encouragement from a dismantled unit. It crushed me into a million little pieces this week when I made the decision not to call my mother for her birthday, simply because she didn’t call the grandson she brags about for his. It was the root to why I bursted at the seams and had a complete meltdown at work, realizing I would only be home for 30 minutes before walking back out the door to an event co-hosted by Essence magazine. I’d miss another night of tucking my children in bed.
Family, family, family; it keeps following me. When I try to hide from the world in my bed, it finds me when I can’t block out the “Mommy, I want juice” I hear from beyond the covers. It’s there when I pick up my phone, scrolling through Instagram to see family photos and happy times to accompany a Throwback Thursday hashtag, and it reminds me, again, that the
Universe will haunt you with the very things you’re hiding from until you face it head on.
I wrote about my not-so-brief self identity crisis and last year I shared the news that my father was alive for 14 years of my life unbeknownst to me. Finding out about my dad after a wine-filled night and an accidental click on an ancestry.com ad, ripped apart the last remaining thread to my sanity. I haven’t been same since. I’m finally okay with saying that.
I haven’t been the same since.
I’ve been going through my own sorrows of being present in my own children’s life and how much it echoes that of my mother’s presence in my childhood. That tugging feeling to feel like I belong to something concrete and at the same time, feeling afraid to dig into my family’s history, finally exposing myself to the secrets and the reasons behind the dysfunction is terrifying. It’s an emotional tug-of-war between wanting to know because it’s vital to your existence and keeping yourself in the dark because you don’t want the skeletons to kill you.
My grandmother tells me of the importance of knowing where you come from, even when it hurts, and her words find its way to the pit of my belly through the phone as I stare at a gift I received after See. Speak. Feel. Old ways won’t open new doors. I woke up everyday since that breakdown asking myself, what are you doing different today? In what ways are you working towards finding closure in this situation?
While the What Binds Us Together site is being constructed, I’ll be recording my Granny interview-style for a documentary I’m looking to incorporate (surprise!) for the series. It’ll be all things her early beginnings in the South, life during the Civil Rights-era, the holes that are missing from my genetic makeup, and the stories that haven’t been told that are making me feel incomplete. I’m afraid… but I’m ready. I’ve stood at that door for far too long, and it’s time to strut on through it.