Yesterday was an exhausting day. I took that picture as I sat on the couch, after I had a shower, exhaling, glad to have the day behind me.
I wrote a more personal essay before this one because I needed to cry a little first, get the hurt out so I could come here with a clearer head. And as I wrote, I cursed the blog a little. I was like, I ain’t telling this blog shit. But then I finished the essay and sat in silence, thanking God for mid-morning quiet, when most of the neighbors are still at work and kids are at their day camps or summer jobs. I found solace in the quiet.
Where am I with Becoming?
I have to be careful when I reflect on the recent strides I’ve been making, careful not to get too full of myself, careful not to get too self-congratulatory. I can go down that road pretty easily, strutting and swagging right into my funhouse of delusion. I don’t mean to go that way, sometimes it just happens out of habit. I cheer for myself over some minor accomplishment and then, bam! I’m off to the races. It comes with being an alcoholic, part of my addictive personality.
It’s also inspired by my secret-keeping history, an impulse to hold back and be less revealing. But then I remember the formidable army of kingpins who tend to drive the impulse for secrecy- Shame, Rage and Self-Pity among them, and I snap out of it. So here I am, writing on the blog after all.
On this becoming, it’s important to note who I WAS. I hate a lot of the choices I made when I was lost, when I was immersed and so deeply entrenched — holding on tight because it had become a familiar comfort — in pain for so long that I had stopped feeling. I conjured faux-feelings to replace the emptiness, I made them up. I knew I was a robot, I knew I was performing, all my actions had become mechanical and I didn’t know how to stop. When I cut the toxic family members from my life all the fakeness dissolved and oozed out of me like ice cream puddling in a warm pan. That was two years ago. I have been evolving into a new me for a mere twenty-four months.
A few years before that happened I was blogging as a conservative political blogger. I am not proud about that. I am not proud because I made a foolish choice back then. It’s not that I think some political groups are worse or better than others, they’re just people, they’re entitled to their choices. But I was a fool to blog about politics because my political affiliation was inspired by feelings of hurt and brokenness. I felt so hurt from rejection by my own parents and eventually, based on a few failed relationships, my own black people, that I aligned myself with some white people for all the wrong reasons. I wrote disparaging criticisms about black people playing the race card, a stupid position for any black person to take when there are still so many racially motivated hostilities pulsing through our country’s veins. In addition, when I was working, in order to ingratiate myself with a few white co-workers, I laughed with them at stories of black people playing the race card. I was fuckin ridiculous!
So yes, I am in the becoming process, reinventing myself as this transparent, authentic, and sometimes amazing woman. However, I will always bear in mind who I was, not for the purpose of shaming, but to keep myself humble, to remind myself, there but for the grace of God you go, bitch. Don’t even think about getting carried away with yourself.
I am in the midst of researching and collecting data for a particular work in progress, which means I am back to the activities of a former life, when I used to be a reporter for a small newspaper. This means I have to approach complete strangers and convince them to talk with me. Many of them have been happy to share their thoughts with me, but it’s a struggle not to dwell on the ones who refuse, those who reject me straight away. Rejection sucks. But it comes with the territory of trying to engage strangers.
Yesterday was one of my more difficult days because I had driven a considerable distance, almost an hour, only to return with zero collected data. And then on the way home, as I drove along one of these country roads (they’re called routes in our neck of the woods), at a major intersection, I saw a state trooper questioning two young black men he had pulled over for whatever infraction— if there was one. The young men looked to be the age of my millennial-born daughters. They were seated on a low stone wall along the grass near their car and one of them was looking up at the officer with his arms crossed loosely against his rib cage. The officer seemed to be questioning them and the arms-crossed kid looked bored, meeting the officer’s look with flat eyes, like he’d been through this before. That scene added to the fatigue I was feeling. I fantasized about pulling over and claiming the young men as my kin, politely inquiring what was going on. But of course, I kept driving.
A few days ago, as I stood at the deli counter in our local supermarket, my peripheral vision picked up two white men who glanced at me and made a loud comment about “our great country, America.” I thought I ignored them completely, like black people often do when white strangers speak in stage whispers, their coded language intended to disparage non-whites, and yet here I am recalling their childish antics.
So yeah, that’s some of it. Yesterday was a rough day, it felt like I was failing at life. Today I have given myself this reality check and now I am ready to go. Another thing about today is it’s new and I get to try again.