I think about how sometimes I get into the craziest funks because I didn't do "all the things" young people are supposed to do like party and travel. I didn't even live on my own because when I got married, I was still living in my parents' house. I start to feel like somehow I missed out and will never be able to get my youth back. But then I look around me and hear so many Black women worried and/or complaining about how difficult it is to get (and keep) what I have and I feel so grateful. I may not be doing what most other 28 year old folks are doing but I'm doing what I want to do, what it's my joy to do, what I'm supposed to be doing and I'm doing it now when I'm young. By the time my children are grown, I'll still have the get-up-and go to still do those things I "missed out on" (albeit with a different set of folks and a whole different mindset). I won't begrudge or be jealous about the road someone else chose to take. I won't covet the perceived success of my peers. Instead I'll focus that energy on doing my best where I am and on santosha.
You see, my road has not been the straightest road or the easiest and definitely not the most popular but I've come to see that some of my actions were actually reactions--responses to the actions of someone else. In that realization, I'm empowered to make my future actions authentically my own.
I think about all my past relationships and I can give heartfelt thanks for the good ones and the bad ones. I give thanks for the good ones because it felt good to be wanted, accepted and loved. In these good relationships, I learned things that will carry me through life. One old boyfriend in particular stands out as the person who helped me shed my prudish upbringing (where everything about one's body was a sin) and to learn to appreciate my body. It was liberating and pleasurable. Other particularly terrible relationships helped me to really understand how damaged my self-esteem was. I watched myself do things that I knew were not healthy but I felt powerless to stop. Even in those relationships, I learned a lot. One boyfriend helped me let go of the idea that the Bible was the end-all-be-all when it comes to The Truth. He introduced me to Fela and some of the best vegetarian restaurants in the city. This boyfriend also brought me unspeakable pain. I think about the man who I was so passionately attracted to in such an inexplicable way who played with me like a toy and never even acknowledged how he hur t me. Somehow after all this time, though, I'm able to embrace all the things and people that are a part of the tapestry of my life. It's all that stuff that makes me who I am today.
And I'm happy to say that I am loving who I am more and more each day as I become more adept at sorting out the bullshit from what's really real.
Photo Credit: "Tapestry Box Project 26" by slowlysheturned on Flickr.com