They are Wrong, You are Worthy
By: Shampaigne Graves, CPC
February 16, 2017
“I feel okay today. I just feel disconnected from the comings and goings of life.”
This was the first entry of the journal assignment I was asked to complete by my grief coach. I had been working with him for about a week then and although I choose to complete my homework an hour before our scheduled session, I had always been a good student so I truly did my best with the assignment; which was to describe how each day that week had been. Although I’d been known as a wordsmith of sorts to close family and friends (especially when papers needed to be written) a measly two sentences were all I could produce from the week’s events.
If you have a personal passion for writing then you understand that the assignment was not the issue, I was. A writer at heart can take any generic assignment and add personification, imagery, and exuberance to what would otherwise simply be a list. Something was blocking me. The most obvious thing.
My world had died.
That actuality was the only thing that made sense that week. Hell, It was the only truth that was existent since I had been back from Virginia, and it dawned on me that that the awkwardly familiar college reunion that I had just unpacked from wasn’t really a reunion after all.
Maybe it was washing the black dress that did it. The one I had worn to funeral of the uncle that only my father was close with. Maybe it was Dallas, the hustle and bustle of the day since being back, those mindless hours of avoiding the unspoken. However, I think it was the rose that broke me. Touching the moistened petals of that scarlet flower. The one his mother gave me, the one I sealed in a ZipLoc bag, because I didn’t know how to preserve such a gift. I was fine before then, riding on waves of nostalgia.
The college days, when my world was bright, shiny and new. And I was at the top of it, all because of a boy. Even writing that, I detest the sound of it. However it was true; the only fact I’d known at the time was that I was his in every sense of the word. My view of marriage had been predisposed due to my parents’ functioning dysfunction, but I knew better than they did. We were young, barely legal in fact but marriage became an absolute pretty fast with us. I was going to be a wildly successful doctor, write my fairytale story (because I lived it), have two children preferably a boy and girl to be fair, and I was going to marry this boy.
He was not just a boy though, he was so much more. He was my aspiration, my muse, the personification of my heart’s deepest wishes for my life. The person I dreamed up for myself as I devoured the words on the page of my adolescent romance novel. You know those cheesy books about the bookish girl who finally encounters the God among teenaged boys at her all American high school.
Yes as unbelievable as it was to me then, he was real. And he loved me. The big L, he said the words before we ever met in person. We were one of those modern romances. A Facebook love story that connected two worlds that would otherwise never meet. The ones you only hear about from a friend of a friend or those viral Buzzfeed stories that pop up on your newsfeed from a page you liked in 9th grade. The one you would personally write Mark Zuckerberg about, if he actually ran a dating service. I was living my dream.
Finally, I was the one who had someone.
Someone who was proud to be with me… in public. A quality that would seem given in any relationship, was odd for me.
I had been a slave to the insecurities of boys from high school who struggled with their attraction to me for so long. Late night phone calls, avoidance in school hallways, secret texts, and ridicule when in the company of prying eyes chipped away at my self-esteem. I was convinced I’d always be a fetish. A doleful girl who lived for the next compliment plied from deceitful lips as determined hands roamed her body. The same one who convinced herself she was okay seeing familiar hands clasps those of lighter, whiter complexions as she turned away and hurried to her assigned class.
I prayed each night as silent tears rolled down my face that by some miracle I could be worthy of love in the open. That I could for once have someone look at me the way the boys at school did the other girls. The ones with looser curls, fairer skin and of ambiguous race. The kind of black girl that could actually fit in at a predominately-white high school in a small Texas town.
My great escape to the capitol of the country had led me to love. The life altering kind. The kind of love that sets you free from the voices, spoken and unspoken that made you feel unworthy.
They were wrong I was worthy.
I was worthy of being courted. Each gift on holidays, anniversaries or just because pushed every forgotten birthday or lonely Valentine’s of the past further from my memory.
I was worthy of beauty and feeling beautiful. Every perceived flaw was perfection. My head now tilted towards the sky when I swayed through a room. My dark skin and kinky curls were worshipped; for once, there was space for me to be pretty in the world.
I was worthy of love. Extraordinary love, a soul tie that binds you to another eternally.
I was worthy of healing. I no longer had to fight to be me. Chained down by the hurts of others deflected upon my pliable mind. My thoughts and words were valued by the one who mattered most now.
I was worthy of friendship, the impossibly selfless kind. Filled with daily affirmations, constant conversation and adoration. A friendship that endured distance, labels, jealousies, and time.
Yes, the assignment. That I could not complete to my personal satisfaction. I had no words. The colors of my world were stolen; I was spiraling into a despair so deep I could not catch my breath. How could I breathe, if my heart was tattered? Each gasp left me clutching my chest. Stinging throbs from the fragmented organ kept me restless at night. A physical manifestation of the most profound agony. My soul was aching.
Would my story always be that I had the fairytale and lost it?
Moreover, it’s funny how the lies you tell yourself about the story of your life, can grow stems and the roots of your falsehoods can turn into the foundation of the invention you created called your life.
“Sometime apart, to experience the world separately. It’ll be fine.”
Disingenuous lives will always deteriorate. All it takes is one cleaver, one sharp blow, one phone call from your mom at the twilight of dusk right before you close your eyes to a fitful sleep to bring your tree of fabrications down.
I had watched so much of the vision for my life parish. Yet I reinvented myself. The medical degree, the private practice, the kids, all ambitions left at the wayside. I was fine, truly. I made new realities for myself. I came from a lineage of women who had to start again. From poverty, domestic abuse, to failed marriages, the women I descend from had always been resilient. It was in my blood. But this anguish I could not endure. I had rewritten the story of my life repeatedly yet this conclusion I could not amend.
Who am I if he cannot tell me?
Over the years I had become amazing at putting on a façade of being self-assured when he had been the secret weapon all along. The one who recognized my super power. The man I could not ignore, the fiber of me was him. The voice inside my head that recited positive affirmations in times of insecurity had his inflections and tone. The standards I’d developed in subsequent relationships were based on his actions.
What happily ever after? This fairytale had taken a seemingly dark and definite turn.
I was in this space again. The feeling had enfolded me completely. Despite the countless faces of young and old, familiar and unfamiliar that I encountered throughout my day, the sentiment was continuously there. I was alone.
In an isolation of solitude in plain sight, I was deprived of words. I played a combination of phrases over in my head of the story of my life.
If my parents had stayed together, things would be different.
If I’d never left Virginia, this wouldn’t have happened.
If I fought harder, no one else could have occupied any space in his heart.
My life had become consumed with “ifs.”
I was exhausted of guilt. I was drained with worrying about what didn’t happen. I waited, because time seemed to be the elixir to heal this unspeakable hurt.
I worked, I gathered every tool in my arsenal. I knew it’d never be a quick fix. Escapism wasn’t the cure. I did the work to examine my life to find my true liberator.
Who was going to rescue me?
This was my S.O.S. I was drowning in the presence of helpless bystanders.
All I had was me, only I could save me now.
I waited. I explored my heart and I waited.
Quieting the noise of the world, I found him again. A divine intervention had shifted in my life. Signs began to appear.
A feather beneath my passenger seat
A cardinal outside my window each morning
A purple skyline just for me.
He was back! With a purpose, we had work to do. We had a world to change, we had a story to tell. I was resilient still, and unafraid of the challenges ahead of me. I had faced my worst fears, and set myself free to be anything I wanted to be.
My calling, had come in my darkest hour. I turned the page to a brave new life. Filled dreams of old and new.
A life filled with the security of being loved. The thrill of giving love, and the excitement of loving myself most of all.
A life with a purpose to say…
To those who feel forgotten you are not.
Someone is waiting for you.
Someone is praying for you.
Someone will love you.
They are wrong, you are worthy.