As some of you know, about a week ago, I was extended an invitation to partner with PRI (Public Radio International) and Across Women’s Lives on a project regarding the connection between the empowerment of women and girls, and economic development and improved health around the world. I accepted that thing at 1:15 AM on February 3rd with an anticipation that I’ll never be able to explain. I was thrilled to see that I had been quoted by Lisa Stone in a Blogher article today (http://c.bher.co/ju). I had been praying for an opportunity to share my story with as many women as possible and I knew in my spirit that it would come one day but receiving and accepting that invitation meant that it was actually time to share the darkness.
I was close to tears, not because I was afraid of taking on the project itself, but because I was actually going to “speak”, out loud, about things that I had tried so desperately to hide and not admit to for so many years. What it all meant was that I would have to face the fact that I took my eyes off myself for long that I stopped dressing in anything other than sweats and sneakers. I would be sharing the fact that I gained well over 60 lbs. because my eating was completely out of control. It meant I would have to face the fact that I stopped wearing makeup and doing my hair. It meant that I would be sharing the fact that the panic attacks got so bad that I ended up driving myself to the ER one night because I thought I was having a heart attack. It meant admitting that I was so confused during the summer of 2013, that I couldn’t even remember the basic things my child needed for his first semester in college. It meant that I would be admitting that my anxiety became so bad that I was prescribed Celexa and Wellbutrin because I couldn’t function on a “normal” basis. It meant that I would be facing the fact that I allowed another human being to invade my psyche, my spirit and my being so deeply with negativity that I believed I was the failure and burden that he repeatedly said I was.
All those thoughts flashed through my mind so quickly that I sat up in bed but just as quickly, the thought of how far I’ve come in recovering my identity and rebirthing the woman I was before all the damage made me feel like Super Woman. Don’t, for one minute, think that the road has been easy. There were many days when I refused to get out of bed because I just didn’t want to try. I was never suicidal because there are too many people out there who love me and deep down, I loved myself – I just hadn’t been showing that love. Toward the end of August 2013, I closed the door behind me to the home that I loved so much in Allen, TX and pulled away with the last Uhaul that was packed to the gills. I cried for two hours straight during the drive to Louisiana and was so glad my brother had decided to ride with the woman who had come to help me move. He knew that I needed that time by myself. It was during that drive that something snapped in me and I finally accepted what was and decided that regardless of what had happened, I literally had a blank canvas to paint a new picture on.
Don’t think that every single thing changed that night. It’s been a struggle. I’ve had to fight myself some days to block the negative voices that still try to creep in. The thing is, I just got tired of staring in the victim role. True, I was the victim of someone’s unkindness, cruelness and ignorance but that chapter is over. It’s been over. Even today, I have to be reminded of that at times. My man does that. He reminds me that I am good woman who is worthy of love and goodness. Graduate school is on the horizon. Attending my son’s college football games is what’s happening this fall. Collapsing after running behind my granddaughter is my mission. Spending time with the man who blindsided me with the newness of a grown-folks relationship makes my heart dance. I’m telling the story because every woman needs to know there’s something good on the other side.