That Thursday night in August of 1993, two hours before I was to head to the Greyhound station and ride to Nashville, Tennessee for my new life at Tennessee State University, the first boy I ever loved sat on my porch and said two words that I still hear sometimes when I’m stuck.
I had gotten a call earlier that day from Mr. Adams at my church. They were offering me a chance to go to Jarvis Christian College (which used to be one of my picks) without worrying about tuition or where I was going to live or financial aid papers or even transportation down there. All I had to do was say, “yes.” For reasons I am still not ready to talk about, I turned them down.
I had to leave. I had to leave the life I didn’t choose. People just didn’t know me. Even my family didn’t. Things they thought didn’t affect me or shouldn’t have affected me did. My high school life had left me feeling inferior, not good enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough, always the dark skinned girl, always the second choice, the wild “ghetto” dancer, the out of style one, breasts too big, butt too big, not enough money, not “enough” to be important.
Off I went, to live my “new” life with my old self living inside of me.
By the time I was twenty five, I had been married and divorced, had my first born child die in my arms, watched my ex husband take my son to live three hours away from me, had a Bachelor’s, a Master’s and a year of divinity school under my belt, had battled anorexia, had not battled my love affair with men who didn’t love me, left my job without another lined up and spent several years doped up on anti-depressants and Tylenol PM. It was not what I signed up for. I left home to learn how to help “fix” people. I worked a full time job, did a twenty hour a week intern AND went to graduate school full time while going through a divorce and raising a child so I could FIX people. But I was broken. Really broken. I was stuck. I was covered in my own drama. I had all of these preconceived notions about how life was “supposed” to be. My life didn’t look anything like it. I was very overweight, still chasing dreams, killing myself with food, feeling sorry for myself and blaming everyone else.
By the time I was twenty nine, I had gotten married again, had another child, given up my career to take care of my children, taken another job and then lost it, moved to another city, then another state, lost my house, battled another episode of anorexia, started battling binge eating, became vegetarian and taken a job making $5.15 an hour. I took a sales job at the gym because I needed to get away from the “drama” of the life I was living. I was no one’s stay at home mom. I needed something to do. I wasn’t looking for someone to “be.” I was stuck and I wasn’t really looking for a way out. I just needed a way to carry out my drama even more. See, if I could complain about how educated I was but had taken this menial job to pay day care and help the family out then it would make everyone feel guilty that I was sacrificing so much and then I would become the martyr and then I’d finally be rewarded for always being the one who cared and saved the day.
I had been looking for that validation my whole life. And I wasn’t going to find it. Not there. Not anywhere other than where I was too scared to look.
People see me laughing and smiling and swinging this 147 pounds (because I am not ashamed of my weight AT ALL) up there, big butt and all, and believe that, for some reason, I was born feeling assured, fit and able to talk while I dance. 🙂 Let me tell you, it’s HARD to lead a crowd when you are an introvert by nature, when being ignored is something you’ve learned to accept, when trying not to be seen is something you’ve embraced, when being asked to be silent is what you have accepted. But I am not that girl who got on that bus. I am not that twenty five year old woman. Or even the twenty nine year old woman. I look back and think “wow, how in the hell did I turn into this from all of that?”
When I watched Michelle Obama’s speech from Democratic National Convention, I wanted to cry. And it had nothing to do with politics. See, Michelle and I went to the same high school and listening to her speak about her humble beginnings made me connect on a much deeper level. Was Michelle teased? Talk about? Did she go through what I went through? And she is now the FIRST LADY!!! She still takes A LOT of heat….about her dress, her hair, her arms. And I can relate (my hair is too short and looks crazy most of the time and I always have on workout clothes but you click here to read about that. Let’s not even discuss the conversation about our arms being too muscular). But if she can rise and speak to people and reach them IN SPITE of where she’s been, what’s been said and what other people believe then so can I. And so can you.
Do you know whose beliefs count the most?
What do you believe about yourself?
And how is that benefiting you?
We don’t hold on to ANYTHING that doesn’t serve us in some way. Are you staying in the fire, hoping to get burned so you can be rescued? Do you want to show off your burns and have others talk about how fantastic you must be to make such a sacrifice?
I used to want that.
These days, I don’t care what people say about me. I am not really moved by praise or blame because I get a lot of both. I am rooted in my purpose and when I am working towards that, everything falls in line. I tell you what though. Life really has been one fire after another. Sometimes it’s been a down right explosion. But I went THROUGH the fire. My loose ends burned in the ashes. I’m not perfect and I still have a lot but I’m running from it and I am standing in it. I am going with the flow.
When you find you can do that, the flow of your life, your REAL life, the life you were MEANT to lead (and that includes weight loss and everything else) will continue.
Otherwise, you are just hot, stuck and burned.