Writing The Road To Freedom
The only things I ever seemed to do well was talk too much and tell the truth. So, I figured embracing them was going to be my road to freedom.
I have freckles all over, lots of them in fun freckle patterns. There’s one on my face that’s in the shape of the constellation Cassiopeia. Greek mythology says her curse was that she always told the truth but no one ever listened to her. My writing partner, Annie, pointed out the constellation similarity and the myth’s kinship with my affinity to be “right” with precision accuracy but only in hindsight—and far too kind, I think, to ever say “I told you so.”
I had an ex tell me that my truth wasn’t the whole truth. I believed him, and every other mystic that ever told me the one who knows anything knows only that they know nothing. I dedicated my life to asking big questions. Questions with “impossible” solutions that I could see played out a hundred different ways. I read energy like I did the alphabet, perhaps not yet at a doctoral level, but certainly well enough to make appropriate offerings to impact change. I learned what to do with “truth” because people hardly ever want to hear it but they will know it when they feel it.
So, the only way I knew how to lead, is with my heart: in the moment, one foot in front of the other. I learned my lessons and solidified my stride in leadership because of, not in spite of, my PTSD, panic and anxiety disorders. Anxiety taught me the importance of presence and it’s relationship to connection. “JUST” Being present, allowing yourself to simply be in the room tells someone that you have made yourself receptive to an energy exchange with them. It is a powerful declaration. To make your self truly available because people are usually starving for an opportunity to ditch their masks. We’re dying to just be real. When I noticed my symptoms flare in certain situations, I did not write myself off. I tried to study my patterns and interrogate my process so that I could make accommodations for myself. I learned how to be an advocate for myself by being kind, having grace, and LOVING the woman I saw staring back at me in the mirror. And I knew if I was in tact, I could weather any storm.
Because of the several years spent to researching women, our bodies and our relationship to leadership, I learned that a woman is as whatever she decides she is. People respond to whomever you believe yourself to be, so if you see yourself as a queen, that is how people will treat you. In my research, women sought community with others they felt a kinship with. Usually, as all of my participants held multiple marginalized identities (Wom*n+Fat+Black/Brown), we had internalized negative ideas about who we were. And when we were dissatisfied with what we heard about ourselves, be it in our families or in the media, we sought communities that were not only inclusive but appreciative of us. Namely, the LGBTQ+ community.
My research and my experiences with the women in my study and in my life that informed my work had reminded me of my why. I decided that I wanted to do an 8-City book tour next year for the book I’m working on: Commencement: Walking the tightrope to my PhD with my PTSD. It is book of short essays, poems and blogs that tell My Story. A fat, black woman from Southwest Atlanta who was bound and determined to earn my PhD on my own terms. I will touch on:
- mental health/mental disability
- identities and -isms
- inhabiting my [fat] body
- sexual empowerment and sexual assault
- the importance of your circle
I’ve been working on it for years now. And I finally feel ready. I feel like this story has had enough time to breathe and I am ready to push to the finish. I am ready to share it and for it to spur further dialogue. I’m ready to talk about the themes and run my mouth way too much with people who aren’t so bothered by all my truth-telling.
I feel the ancestors smile when I declare I will write my way to freedom and my next chapter. Unsure of where any of it would take me, but willing to bet on myself. Willing to bet on the power of my storytelling and willing to bet on the divinity within me telling me to leap. Run. Fall desperately in love with this dream that consumes your daydreams and makes you forget the world even when it’s falling down all around you.
I want to have my book available for pre-order by my 35th birthday April 21, 2019. I would like to release it May 1, 2019 in hopes that people would buy it for the young graduates in their lives. I think there will be something that everyone can relate to in my story, though my voice as a Black woman is undeniable. Still, I find there’s always a hand open on the other side of my words for anyone who came to See me, because I came to be Seen.