Thursday, September 22, 2016

Charlotte is on fire.


I'm not sure who took this photo. I wish I knew so I could give them credit. But it was taken on the exit of I-85 next to my boyfriend's house in the middle of the night on Tuesday. That's when the protests got ugly, and an dull haze of fear and rage fell over Charlotte, North Carolina.

The protests began peacefully but quickly became violent. I began contemplating whether or not I should drive to my boyfriend's house this afternoon, knowing it could be really scary.

I've never had to be afraid when I got in my car that I would end up in the wrong place at the wrong time, or that I'd be pulled over for a minor traffic violation and lose my life within the hour. I have not felt this, mainly because I am not a black man. I am lucky in this way, because many people in my community feel that fear every time they put their key into their ignition.

And they wait for change.

And they wait.
And they wait.
And they wait.

I was scared for the first time last night. For the first time in my life I had to feel what black Americans feel every time they put on their seatbelts. It was so unnerving, so uncomfortable. The havoc that kind of stress can wreak on your system over time can break you down.

My city caught fire last night. I wasn't there. I don't know what happened. I didn't see anything firsthand. I don't condone the destruction of private property. I hope that these long nights of protests-- the peaceful ones and the not-so-peaceful ones-- can bring about a positive change to my city. I hope that the black community of Charlotte will feel the effects of their lives improving. I hope something will change that will give back to them the dignity that has been denied them for so long.

And I hope all of my super racist friends unfriend me.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Plain


They tell you that losing weight won't fix you, but as a girl that's always been fat, I didn't really believe them. [Side note: Have you ever noticed, it's always the skinny people who say shit like that?]

What's worse than being fat, I thought? What's worse than looking like I do now? What's worse than taking up more space than everyone else, yet still feeling totally invisible?

Lots of things, it turns out. But it's interesting how easy it is to wrap those toxic thoughts up and carry them with you wherever you go.

I have lost forty pounds.
Forty. Pounds.
That's a 5-gallon jug of liquid.
A microwave.
A medium-sized Border Collie.
A toddler.

I thought that losing that weight meant instant confidence would fill me and love would immediately find me and my dream job would fall in my lap and suddenly I'd feel good about myself and look great in everything I wore and my money problems would disappear. How I came to this stupid, skewed logic is unclear, but-- spoiler alert-- that's hardly what has happened.

I am, however, dating an amazing man. He likes me as I am right now, and I'm having a really hard time wrapping my mind around it. He is one of those people who eats mindfully and healthfully, so I find it easy to continue toward my goal of losing forty more pounds when I'm around him. He encourages me to be the best version of myself, but appreciates exactly who I am right now. And he never picks on me for being a vegetarian. Quite the opposite, actually. Having his support has been incredible and invaluable to me as I push forward in my journey.

Still, that tiny voice in my head says that I don't deserve him... because I'm still big. Because my butt isn't big enough. Because my arms are still flabby. Because I have no muscle tone in my thighs. Because my boobs are so big, they make me feel frumpy due to poor posture. None of my clothes fit and I'm breaking out from stress. How could he even want to be seen with me? How could he even look at me without his stomach turning?

These thoughts-- the same thoughts I had when I was forty pounds heavier-- are still there, like ghosts.

In my yoga and meditation practices, I try to practice radical self love and acceptance for where I am in all aspects of my life. I try to honor the journey that has brought me here, and the lessons I'm learning as I walk onward. I think, though, that shedding these inner demons will be significantly harder than shedding the pounds.

Old habits die hard I suppose.


Art by Sophie Rambert

Thursday, June 16, 2016

We are all the "Alligator Parents"


Last night on the way to my parents' house for dinner, I zoned out and ran a red light. I drive past this intersection at least twice a day every single day of my life. I knew there was a light there. But I zoned out and ran the light and almost hit a woman in a Toyota Camry. It was a mistake that could have been deadly.

I didn't hit anyone thankfully, but I almost did. And almost, when dealing with harming another human being in any way, is still too close for comfort. I spent the rest of the night feeling horrible. I can't imagine how scared the woman in the Camry must have been. I am so glad she was paying attention and that she swerved out of the way, even though she shouldn't have been in that position in the first place. What if a child were in that car? She was no doubt someone's daughter, friend, or mother. I pictured the worst case scenarios all night long.

I pictured the comments that would come from readers on the article that the local news would inevitably publish. I bet she was texting (I wasn't) or I bet she fell asleep at the wheel (I didn't.) We all want there to be reasons but accidents happen.

I wish I could apologize to her.

It got me thinking about mistakes, and how these things unify us as humans. We all make them. Most of them don't make the news. Most of them don't cause a loss of life. Most of the time, we are the only ones who know about them at all.

But then there's the mom of the boy who fell in the Gorilla enclosure. Or the parents of the child who was eaten by an alligator earlier this week. I almost joined their ranks of infamous-mistake-makers that get hateful comments on the internet-- blaming them and shaming them in their moments of horror and grief. It is not okay.

Let's be a little kinder to each other. People make mistakes and not all mistakes require judgment. It helps us make sense of tragedy, but sometimes tragedy just doesn't make sense. We like to think we're exempt from the big ones, the ones that ruin lives. But we aren't.

So how 'bout we spend less time being critics on these high-profile news stories and just admit that we don't have all the answers and that we are all capable of being at the center of the criticism.

And then let's thank whoever-the-hell you think lives in the sky that no one writes news stories about our mistakes.

That would suck pretty hard.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

5 Years


You'd be 5 years old today, Micah. You are so very loved and so very missed and so very celebrated. I wonder what you'd be interested in-- if you'd be an artist or love dinosaurs or princesses or if I'd be ten pounds lighter from chasing you around the yard in the evenings when it's finally cooled off a little.

I miss you, kid, and I grieve for who you could have grown to be. I will never understand why you couldn't stay longer. But for the first time on your birthday, mama's doing fine. Mama's stronger than ever. Mama will never be the same because of you.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Different Trajectories


I was sun-kissed and exhausted from spending the afternoon on the water with my girlfriends, relieved to have been disconnected from my phone and all my responsibilities for a bit. It's a good thing, too, because when I waddled in the front door, dripping and slightly sunburned, I saw the text that I knew would come eventually.

"I'd really love to talk, if you'd be up for that," he wrote.

I felt this wave of rage fill my body-- rage that I didn't even know I was still carrying. He must be single and lonely, I thought. Or maybe he's broke? He is probably broke. I finally responded an hour later, wondering what the hell there was to talk about after all this time.

He proceeded to apologize for hurting me, and I skeptically listened while trying to nail down his motive. There's always a motive, I thought. He said he needed to clear his conscience, that he needed to right his wrongs.

"Do you feel better," I asked, "now that you've cleared your conscience?" 
"No," he confessed. "I don't."

I wanted to rip him to shreds. I could have denied him my forgiveness and kept my power in all this. And yet something in me kept my fingers from typing out the horrible things I was thinking about him and all the pain he'd caused me over the years. It has been almost five years since I left him, and the anger was still tied around my ankles in the way that toddlers grasp onto their parents' feet.

"I need to think for a second."

The rain was coming down now, hitting the canopy in the rhythmic and soothing way that rain falls. The tin roof rattled. The leaves rustled. There was all this peace surrounding me but it was just so loud in my head. I could not form words.

The hurricane moved a little closer to the shore, and I realized it was time to let it go. I did not want to carry this weight of hatred around anymore. It had been too long already.

In the last few months I've been working hard to rid my life of things or people that do not serve me. It was as if the universe had handed me this opportunity on a plate to put into practice the things I've been learning in this very big way-- a sort of midterm exam, if you will. I was reluctant, but also overjoyed, to have this moment of clarity come so unexpectedly.

"You will never be able to understand fully the long-lasting effects that your psychological warfare had on my life. There are no words for that. You can never fix the hurt inside me that you caused-- that's my job now," I said calmly. "So go and DO better. BE better. Be better for your daughter. I hope she changes the world. I hope you are good to her mother in a way that you couldn't be for me."

I hope one day twenty years from now, he and I will be able to sit down and have a cup of coffee and truly see how exactly right we were to go our separate ways. But for now it feels good not to hate him for the first time in five years. It felt good to speak great things into his daughter's life, though I never in a thousand years imagined he'd have a daughter with anyone but me. Hot, salty tears streamed down my face, dripping from my chin and the tip of my nose. I looked out over the lake water, thankful that somehow this moment had come in its own perfect timing. I could not have timed it better if I had planned this rendezvous myself.

They say no two loves are the same. Well, let's hope not anyway. For so long I've been saying goodbye to the malicious and manipulative person he had become. This weekend, I finally said goodbye to the man I had fallen in love with and the dreams we dreamed together. And I hope that, in doing so, I have opened myself up to a new realm of possibilities and somehow invited a new love to fill the places where all that rage was hiding.

I'm ready. I hope the universe or god or whoever is listening. I certainly am.