Today at a Women’s Facility we spoke about childhood moments that broke our self esteem.
I shared a poem that ends with “I wish every little girl felt free to be, free to chose, free to give & most of all free to forgive life’s raindrops, knowing that it is OK to cry sometimes.” After the poem we asked the ladies in the room to share with us times when they cried private tears. I am certain that even the most confident woman has felt embarrassed, picked on or out of place at some point in their life so I knew we’d all have varying stories but I knew we could all relate. I know I am not alone when it comes to burrowing my face in my pillow, just a wall separating my mom and I. Throughout my teen years, without her knowledge, I wailed on the inside. So many nights I let silent tears stream down my face and saturate my pillow with sadness. In this circle today I was interested in hearing how and why other women experienced this. We momentarily became kids again as we reminisced on those moments. Some had shaking voices as the emotion came back like it was yesterday. Some spoke with apparent anger while others showed confusion for why they were ‘picked on’.
The topics were widespread. Being teased for ‘talking white’ when you live in the hood but go to school in the suburbs. Feeling out of place around family because you live in the suburbs but your cousins live in the hood and followed different rules and spoke what seemed like a foreign language. One woman spoke on her height, or lack of height, making her a common topic of conversation. One spoke of being verbally attacked for being left handed in a time where this was unaccepted. There’s an endless of list of ‘too’. Being too skinny, too dark, too quiet, too this and that. We start hearing it at such a young age that it begins to make us apologetic and uncomfortable in our own skin.
What’s surprising is every woman in this intimate circle of adults had been through some dramatic traumas such as rape, domestic violence, abandonment and are currently incarcerated. It was not those things that we spoke of though. It was simple words, words that we were taught may break our bones but never kill, that were slung at us as kids. We carried them around like a bag of boulders. These words that whether intentional or not, isolated us, taunted us and belittled us. They brought us doubt, created fears and put us on the road of a lifetime of trying to change ourselves to fit into a box. So many of us weren’t taught to be different or to embrace the us that God made.
So today I say, KICK OVER THAT BOX!! God made you in his image. He made millions of species. He created hues that make a beautiful rainbow seem simple. He made you to stand out. So embrace it.
Today, I stepped out of my facilitator role and wrote these words:
I remember when they said your lips were so big. When they called you Medusa because of your long cornrows. When you were called Diana Ross by fellow 6, 7, 8 and 9 year olds because your hair was thick, big & fluffy. Dear Self, I am so glad that you came to Love those big lips. Glad that people stop you daily to comment on your lipstick on those luscious lips. Glad that you grew confident enough to rock dreadlocks for 11 years. I am glad that you proudly embrace being told you look, not like Diana Ross but, like her younger self, her daughter Tracee Ellis Ross. They were right all those years, you just weren’t ready to walk in it then.”
Today I embrace my big poofy hair, my overbite that makes my top lip bigger than my bottom, my crooked smile, my enunciation, my deep voice…I’ve grown into these things that were a source of ridicule just wonderfully! I HOPE THAT TODAY YOU HAVE TOO! IF NOT, DECLARE IT TODAY!!