It happened in 2016 – a heartbreak that came unexpectedly and which I kept telling myself I was over-reacting towards. My heart closed and I numbed every emotion I had, in my reaction to cope. I threw myself into my work and I forgot about any other aspect of my life; friends, family, social life, health, creativity. I stopped writing – not on purpose, but just because I had no flow.
In 2017, a job offer that I didn’t want but kept coming back to me. I had my reservations but God knew better, He gave me what I needed and not what I wanted. He gave me the start of my opening up process. I started working with children who were hard-wired for love and connection. My heart was pried open. I couldn’t control or contain the genuine love that flowed through me. They felt safe to love, they were children and they needed it. Little did I know how much I needed it too.
Eventually one summer, I confronted my heart-breaker and cried a cry I had been meaning to cry two years earlier. I heaved and wailed like someone died but it was just me mourning my broken heart from two years ago. A friend put his arm around me and said a few kind, choice words that warmed my heart and showed me, at the exact right moment, what it means to feel again.
There in it began to unfold; a night under the stars with a conversation that lasted all night, a little more attention to make-up and clothing, more care in my meals and exercise, a little more attention to the person walking down the street and making eye contact with strangers. Slowly, I started to recognize myself again. This is me, I forgot. I am attractive, I can flirt and I can get a guy out of bed at midnight to meet me for a drink.
I’ve come unstuck and un-numb. Feeling good means feeling equally as bad, in equal measure. Now that I can feel excitement and butterflies again, I can also feel anxiety and shame and fears around being vulnerable to a romantic potential. Its almost tempting to tiptoe back into my cave – but no. I found something else when I started to feel again. I felt power. Power that I never felt when I was younger. I felt wisdom. I felt impatience for bullshit and strength to stand up to it. I felt okay with myself (more or less) – at least, enough to know my worth and have my voice heard. I amalgamated my intelligence with my instincts and my desires. Experience has given me this. And I feel I can stand tall in my shoes and decide whats okay and not okay, what I will accept and what I will not accept in my life. The need to please, while still somewhat present, has diminished drastically. I learnt (and keep learning) boundaries.
I keep recalling to my mind the phrase, ‘And still, I rise’ so I will leave you with the words that give me a surge in the pit of my stomach to rise above, always…
Still I Rise
BY MAYA ANGELOU
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
’Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
’Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history’s shame
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.