“There will be more watershed moments,” my counsellor said to me. Her firmness delicately draped in gentleness never ceases to amaze me.
I let the sigh that was trapped in my body escape, finally. My eyes were sore from weeping & my heart bruised. It felt heavy, too heavy for my chest. And yet deliciously warm too.
I smiled, my lips trembling, surprised they still knew just where to curve, that familiar feel of my smile,
“Yes…but this feels big…this feels like it” I said.
She smiled back with that hint of wisdom shining in her eyes, “I know…this is important too.”
I could feel the ground beneath my feet, strong, stable, there. always there. Contrary to the rush of fear that invades our being when we hit a wall – the ground does not fall to pieces. It supports us. The foundation, if built correctly will stay in place. So we can shed as many tears as we need, we can throw off our clothes & lie naked on the ground, we can roll in the dirt like there is no tomorrow. And once we are finished with all the crazy things we do to sorrow, we can get off the floor, vertebrae by vertebrae & the ground will still be there, holding us, supporting us.
I met some people.
These people reminded me that I am black. That this skin that covers my body makes some of the world uneasy; that etched into it is a secret code unknown to me that validates their conviction that somehow my brain & heart are hardwired to this skin of mine. That blackness lives not only in my body but in my soul.
It made me laugh & cry all at the same.
So I was sitting in my counsellor’s office because I had hit a wall. It looked too big to scale. too impossible. too incomprehensible.
My perfectionism had come to collect.
I really thought I could tuck & pin the world into a perfect fold. With flimsy lace all around its edges. & sealed with a kiss. A kiss from my own full lips, from my heart—luxury at its best. I thought I could imprint myself on its curves without any question or doubt of my place in it.
I thought my love for humanity was perfect & could be returned to me when needed, in equal measure. I thought loving others was the only thing to do in this life.
But the truth is life falls apart when it is out of balance. As much as I love human beings & with the same gusto & sacredness, I should love myself. The voice that I use to defend the defenceless & pray for the broken-hearted is the same voice I should hold strongly for myself.
I knew this truth in the knowing of it but I denied its power in the living of it. I doubted & I doubted & I doubted.
And so here, at this wall, I’m laying down my doubt, I’m laying down my grasping & my perfectionism. You will not find it. Not here. Not in my body. Not in my house.
I will offer no more apologies for my existence in the world. I will grow into my skin, crawling deep inside until I occupy every delectable curve of it.
I will still love with passion & abandon but this time I will also build a sanctuary to myself.
I will still honour all human beings because my Papa taught me so & it is still a beautiful way to be in the world but this time I will also honour myself.
I will be raw. I will be shameless. I will be graceful. I will be strong. I will be perfect. I will be imperfect.
I will speak in voice, in syllables, ampersands & full stops.
Here, at this wall, I will be fully human. I declare myself so.