I’ve spent my entire life watching my mother shrink herself in the light of men. Men that were less qualified, intelligent, educated, and skilled than her. Watching my mother completely disregard the light she worked so hard to put into me was the biggest heart break I’ve ever experienced. Watching her choose to stand in a man’s shadow instead of her light is something I can’t be around.
She would tell me show she prayed that no one stripped my joy away like her stepfather did and her mother allowed. She taught me to be all the things that were nearly destroyed in her. Strong, intelligent, bold, inquisitive. There are the things that make me who I am and the unstoppable force I’m becoming. I absolutely refuse to let anyone get in my way. You can either cheer me on, help me, get steamrolled without apology, or be forcibly removed from my life. That is the part where the two sides of my family are polar opposites. Wynona is a peace keeper. Elizabeth is a peace creator. Both skill sets are necessary. But clearly I got the tenacity from Liz. I appreciate my “I said what I said and I meant every syllable” personality trait that lies behind my “I’ll let you rock with what you want to do as long as it doesn’t disrupt the calm” personality trait. I’m just a nesting Russian doll set of the women I grew up around. One of my favorite things about myself.
In November, I had to forcibly remove the root of my mother’s out of character behavior from my personal existence. I’m not going to shrink myself for the sake of another man’s flickering light. If I won’t let my own father dim my ambition anymore, I certainly won’t let anybody else do it. Here is the crazy thing: the rest of us who know my mom’s upbringing understand that she’s acting outside of the character she instilled in me from a very young age. It’s obvious. But as her mother taught me, everything isn’t my place to say. So I’ll leave that conversation for Wynona to have if, and when, she feels led to do so.
My mother is a goddess among mortals. A strong force of nature that could move and shake the earth if she wanted to. She change this reality to whatever she wanted. And somewhere along the line, someone convinced her otherwise. Something convinced her that she wasn’t worthy of the absolute best this life has to offer. Something got into her head and made her feel like a drop in the ocean instead of the ocean itself. My mother could conjure up a whole new world in her down time in the same way people crochet as a hobby. I’ve watched her manifest multiple realities for us in the middle of chaos. So yes, as a person growing up in the brown skin who fully understands the power we have, it shatters me to see my beautiful mother belittle herself in the light of someone who doesn’t match her. She deserves the absolute best. She deserves her freedom.
When the woman who taught me to read, research, ask questions, explore possibilities, and then make decisions for myself told me that she didn’t believe I was capable and knowledgable enough to make my own personal decisions that don’t affect anyone except me . . . I had to leave. And I left because it wasn’t her speaking, it was him. Because my mother would have asked me how I got to this point, what did I read, who did I talk to so she could also research and understand exactly where I was coming from. It would have been more of a conversation than law. I don’t function under autonomous law without reason, ask my father. I need reasons, thought processes, footnotes and works cited so I can understand how this “law” came to be. Following rules isn’t a problem for me. I just need to know where the rules came from.
Example: We wear seatbelt to prevent people flying through windshields in car accidents. We wash our hands to prevent the spread of disease. There is a rule, or law, we created that has a direct effect on some preventable outcomes.
While it might be easier to blame my ego or temper for my exit, it’s actually self-preservation. Just for the record, I don’t have a temper like some people will tell you. If you’re seeing my temper fly, there has actually been a slow build for a very long time to get me to that point. I’ve probably given you 25 chances to redirect yourself and correct your behavior. And if my temper shows, it’s because I couldn’t distance myself from you fast enough. I’d rather go silent than let myself actually go off. I’ll see nothing but red and it never ends well. I’ve always been a sensitive person. I’ve always been easily affected by my environment and I just learned how to control that within the last 5 years. My teachers, parents, cousins, grandparents, coaches, after school teachers, church members, etc. would have conflicting stories about me. If I’m in a high stress environment where I don’t feel heard, it will manifest physically. I would either cry, scream, or hit people. When I wasn’t being stressed, I would be calm and probably reading a book somewhere. I can easily be overstimulated in places with abrasive people. I’m not referring to those people who’s personalities dominate a room without trying. I’m referring to the people who interject themselves into my space and disrupt my immediate peace for no reason other than their amusement. My mother’s husband is one of those people. You see where I’m going with this? There isn’t anything wrong with these people, it’s just how they are. I’m just really good at distancing myself now that I’m older. I’ll go home or go into my room or put my earphones on. No problem. I don’t require people to change their personality to suit me, however I do expect the respect of my mental and personal space. Leaving people alone is free.
Side note: sometimes I close my room door to change clothes, then I start doing something else, and I forget that my door is closed… this is happening as I type this while Summertime Magic is playing in the background.
In all honesty, that environment became suffocating and abrasive over time. I’m an only child (with my mom). We are both introverts. I’m used to the house being calm with a tv playing or someone in the kitchen. I’m not used to somebody constantly being in my face for whatever reason at home. At work? Yes, I can fake it until I make it . . . back home. I work as a bartender now. I have to talk to people all day about things I don’t particularly care about for the sake of small talk. You don’t know how little I care about the weather in Iowa, it means nothing to my daily life, but I act super interested because you’re paying me and that what bartenders do. It’s not abnormal for me to come home and exist in total silence for 30 minutes. I can’t handle being overstimulated outside and inside of the house. As we can see, I lose my sanity and start struggling being a person. Jeremy could see it and I would only see him every couple months. And while I had been quietly plotting and thinking of ways to go out on my own, Spirit has a way of kicking me in the back to make sure I get the hint that I should have gotten months ago, while somehow also providing a piece of foam to support my fall. I’ve learned to stop asking questions and pay attention the first time. I’m a special mix of hardheaded and oblivious. Don’t ask me how this works out for me, it gets me into strange situations.
We arrive to this past Fall. No pun intended. I had been reading about death rituals and how other cultures honor their dead family members. For some weird reason, everybody else does this except Americans. Figures. I decided that I would connect with my ancestors and who better to start with than Elizabeth? I know her, I grew up with her, she knows me, I admire her. I already have a deeply personal “in” with the spirit world that I’m still learning about and navigating. After months of research and procrastination, I bought my first tarot deck. I view tarot decks as an external lens into the internal world that connects your inner world with your intuition so you can understand yourself more. That’s really it. You can’t really summon demons with a tarot deck… maybe with candle magic? I’m not sure. I’m not over here trying to summon anybody except my grandma but I know that woman stays ready so she’s never too far.
Slight rant here. I can’t stand some Christians. They truly thrive off being loud and wrong, while also having selective hearing to accompany their selective morals. It’s truly stressful to be around in a concentrated setting and this is why I don’t go to church and have hated it since I aged out of Children’s Church with my friends. For what? I’m doing nothing but being bored for multiple hours of my life where I could be reading, napping, or eating. If I pay attention, I find plot holes in sermons like Brian finds plot holes in movies and tv shows. No one seems to be able to explain the benefit of me attending such service. I also have no interest in contemplating the conundrum. I’m not lost. I don’t need to be found. I’m actually just peachy over here with my crystals and plants. I use plants and rocks to heal myself. You believe in a magical fairy in the sky who forgives the sins you consciously decided to partake in then call the resulting consequence a “blessing in disguise.” Different strokes for different folks. While I could sit here and question how you can have the love of God flowing through you but still disgrace my gay best friend and make comments you think I don’t see or hear . . . I won’t because I know you don’t actually comprehend the foundation of Christianity. I’m not here to convince you otherwise. I just want the space to exist without your unsolicited, unhelpful, useless comments about what I do in my personal time that doesn’t affect any atom of your being. That’s it.
If I told you that you could still receive guidance and assurance from loved ones who transitioned, would you believe me?
The best part about this is it doesn’t matter if you believe me or not. If you decide to cultivate an open channel to communicate with someone you love who transitioned already, that’s your business. As I’m opening this channel, I can see how Elizabeth is making moves on my behalf because I know how she works. I ask her for something, she will move the cosmos for me to get it. She been like this since before my birth. I told her years ago that just because her physical body is cold, I still need her. I need her wisdom, her guidance, her voice, her strength, her protection, and everything else I had when she was here. For you, a mere mortal, to tell me that the tools I use to cultivate this relationship with my grandmother is evil and demonic, that’s it. That’s the final straw. I’m beyond the point of trying to reach mutual understanding. Because what won’t happen is someone who doesn’t understand that bond to try and break it to conform into something for consumption by someone other than me. I’m not going to change what I’m doing to make you more comfortable when it has nothing to do with you. But some people just need to flex their muscles I guess.
Gods are only as powerful as the people who create them.
The god I’ve created is me. I fully believe that I can shape this physical world and reality into whatever I want it to be. It may take some time, but I can do it. I’ve already started to do it. I created who I am as I’m typing this blog post. I created this new frame of mind. In the words of Solange, “I saw things I imagined.”
In my world, I’m a spirit experiencing this human life. When I’m done, I’ll go back to hanging out in the cosmos and live another physical life somewhere. If I extend this logic to my grandmother, she’s out in the cosmos living her very best life, being free. It’s super nice of her to come back to this flaming trash can of a planet to help me with my mortal problems. This place kinda sucks. If planets had suggestion boxes and comment cards, I could write a novel on just America.
I truly hope that my mother can find her freedom. It would look good on her. I’ve never seen it, but I know there is a timeline in which she is able to pursue what ever her heart desired and her mind’s eye could dream up without hiding behind people who are less magnificent. Black women are special. They deserve to be protected and uplifted without shame. They deserve to be heard, seen, and felt. They deserve peace and freedom. They deserve to live a life where they can say “what we not ‘gon do is . . .” and those words whip people into shape. It hurts to see her happily trapped and then try to get me to join her in the trap.
We aren’t taught as Black girls to move with the intention of self preservation. So when we do, it feels like shock and betrayal. Encourgaing our suffering to appease the status quo has been used as a weapon against us. That aunt you have that everyone constantly talks negatively about probably moved away to be happy and free. Your other aunts see it as her abandoning the family, but really she created the space to use every square centimeter of her lung capacity away from the suffocating weight of your grandmother. We can discuss that whole situation on another day.
It took me 7 months to write about this.
7 months of thinking, dissecting, observing, triggering myself, and meditation.
7 months of questioning myself.
7 months of growing, expanding, contracting, and collapsing.
7months of learning that self love isn’t always candles and bubble baths.
Sometimes self love is sitting with yourself, admitting how heavy you feel, and unpacking every single bag until your thoughts are so scattered it looks like a 3 year old’s play room. Self love is taking all of those scattered thoughts and emotions, feeling through them, releasing them, and sorting them by cause. Self love is a beautiful and brutal process that often ends in rewards like bubble baths, soft pillows and your favorite cup of tea. Self love is something that has become a luxury when it should be a necessity. There’s a lot of crying, kicking, screaming, questioning, and stress involved but I’m willing to invest that effort so my daughter has no idea certain concepts exist. I’m breaking this cycle in real time. We’re healing generational trauma over here. We’re healing self esteem issues. We’re breaking every single curse, know and unknown. We’re shattering the glass ceiling and false realities.
. . . Even in the faces of the people who unknowingly gave them to us.
Please don’t misunderstand me, I don’t blame my mother or grandmothers for their actions. They did the best they could with what they had. And for that, I’m eternally grateful. But some things needs to stop. I’m observing patterns and figuring out ways to stop them in their tracks. I genuinely lack the time for them anymore. I know better, so now I’m doing better. For right now, that abrasiveness needs to stay far away from me, waaaaaaaay over yonda, across the river, through the woods, and around a couple mountains.
~ Lynona ~