And the journey begins….
I almost titled this blog post “What Becomes of the Broken Hearted,” (hey Jimmy Ruffin!) but this isn’t another post-breakup post or a he-ain’t-shit-he-played-me-for-the-last-time post. My heart’s not broken in that sense, but the pieces were still shattered and put back together again in a Humpty Dumpty not quite right way.
It started at the Humpty Dumpty age. I was about 5 years old the first time I started to question my self-worth. I didn’t talk much in public and was selective about what thoughts I let out even in private spaces. How did my 5 year old brain know how to explain that there were “tornadoes in my head,” and I felt like ripping off my skin to see if my Black was “different” underneath? At that point, I had already been hiding it inside for a year how I walked in on a counselor at my previous preschool, who was masturbating to a picture of one of my classmates that had previously adorned the walls, along with the teeth missing smiles of the rest of us. How to explain his look of euphoria scared me, but also piqued my curiosity- how did I achieve that level of unfiltered joy? I was 5 years old, had a trunk load of questions, and no answers. So I held it all in and let the the questions consume me, nag at me. Did other people have these same thoughts? Why was no one else saying anything? I can’t be the only weird one, right? I must be the only one with these thoughts. I must be wrong.
And the self-doubt continued as I got older. It festered and boiled through verbal abuse, physical abuse, and self harm. By high school, I was putting on a front that I thought I was fabulous and amazing, but on the inside I was broken and suicidal. While my mother never knew the totality of it, she still saw that something was off and put me in therapy. I never fully opened up to the 2 different therapists I had, mainly because they were both White women and at the core I didn’t think they understood that one of the main “tornadoes” in my head was rooted in racial trauma. Trauma I didn’t quite have the nuanced vocabulary to vocalize, but I knew I didn’t trust either one of the overly perky, always smiling, takes their dogs on the bus women across from me. I thought I was holding it in, but it would bubble up and manifest itself in pushing furniture against my bedroom door to barricade myself in, scratching my skin with scissors, and swallowing my mom’s pills. All things considered, my physical health wasn’t impacted too much, but I was on the verge of a breakdown. It was a constant throbbing in the back of my head, that I was breaking down, but I had no idea what to do about it.
What trajectory did I want to take? How could I escape? I had this naive idea that I could run from myself and into the arms of my degrees and accomplishments That my name on multiple pieces of paper and outside validation through education, especially those ribbons and cords around my neck, could fix me. It wasn’t until after graduation that I caught up with myself when I got to this self-drawn finish line, and realized I couldn’t run from who I was. That I carry myself with myself no matter what.
That was a slice of my trajectory. That I’m enough. Not because I’m so-and-so’s sister, or because a guy 40 years older than me wanted to marry me, or because of my breasts. But because I’m an intersectionally nuanced, virtuous person. And the duct tape of pieces for my broken heart had to be made of my own cognizant self-worth for my lil ole heart to keep beating.
By no means has it been an easy journey- from my pre-pubescent confusion, to seeing others do drugs, to having best friends almost die at 13 from trying to have sex in a moving car while their “boyfriend” was driving, to physical and sexual abuse, to living with PTSD, anxiety, and depression, it’s been a long road. But the journey continues- and at the end of it, there’s only one left. Me. And I finally like this girl.