The Weight of Truth
I am not particularly thrilled with where I am in life right now. I have noticed that, my sharing is minimal and harder to write during these periods in my life. If I can manage one post a month, I’m doing something. When there were times I would write two or three blogs in a matter of hours.
I never have enough money. I know everyone feels like this. For me, this is the first time in my life I have not had enough money for the very basics. Without any hint of hyperbole or exaggeration, I have no money. Ahead of me are four days of work: Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. Work 60 miles away for $11/hour. My car...well I need tires and brakes an emissions test and my annual registration but I also am behind on the monthly notes. Because there is just never enough money.
I have somewhat accepted that this is just a season of my life where I have less. I accept that this part of my story serves a purpose and won’t last forever. And yet I have no idea how true that statement is; or if it’s just something I want to believe.
I knew I would struggle to write this post as I drilled closer and closer to the truth. But I made myself a promise that I would not suffer under the weight of shame after my assault and I’m trying to uphold that promise to myself. I’m cracking under the weight of disappointment.
Today my mom and I went to lunch and I made a comment about our fight earlier this year. I said “I told [Dad] when I get triggered it takes me back to the only fight I’ve ever been in, and you’re not my mom, you’re that 6’8 300lbs man I have to get off of me.” She said “I thought you didn’t have to fight him.” I made a puzzled face. She went on “You told me you didn’t have to fight him.” I said “No, mom I did. I came out of that night bruised and aching because how else do you think I got him off of me? I fought free and put myself in a corner.” She said “Well I get conflicting stories...”
I couldn’t remember what I’d told my mom of that night. But I remembered the night itself. Too well. However in the moment she mentioned conflicting stories all I could think was “You couldn’t tell her everything.”
I realize there are some people I never want to disappoint and my mother is atop that list. She and my dad may be the only two on that list to be honest. I recall her finding out some years later about my miscarriage and she asked me why I never told her. I couldn’t. I had no capacity to find the words to tell my mother DAYS after we fundraised like crazy to get me to Southern California causing huge rifts in the family over my asking for money that now I was pregnant. I couldn’t tell her that and even though there’s no way to confirm it, in my heart I feel like I made my body such a hostile environment filled with stress and worry that there was no way for that baby to survive.
In a conversation with my friend Courtney, I shared with her that I was always a smart child who didn’t really get into trouble or cause many waves. However, I think because I was smart and well mannered there was an assumption that emotionally I was just as intelligent. In my adulthood I’m learning that is not the case at all. I told her “...by the time I realized I wasn’t as mature as I was supposed to be, I was an adult.”
I sat across from my mother knowing how desperately I was in need and still could not tell her the severity because I could not face the look in her eyes. She generally does not read my blog posts, so I feel safe in this space. Though maybe I should send it to her? The thought leaves me gasping for breath.
On the other side of disappointment is expectation. People expect me to be a certain way and when I am not or when I fall short of what they imagined, then comes disappointment. Not to make it totally external; I also expect things of myself. It has been one of the hardest struggles of the past three years. Knowing how talented and hard working I am and yet still feeling fucked over time and time again when trying to navigate the professional world.
I have had to ask myself if I was just lazy? If I was self sabotaging and not truly looking for employment or for a good fit? I’ve wondered whether this was Gods way of redirecting me to another field. I reflected and wrote and cried and prayed and ultimately all roads lead back to me simply sitting in front of a mirror telling the truth until I could look myself in the eye while I did it.
I am not lazy at all. Though I am slow to engage and hard to sway. I not only appreciate but need high levels of trust and autonomy; I need room to try and fail without judgment. In fact I need encouragement to do so. As an artist, a creative, and a leadership fanatic I know to get somewhere you’ve never been you have to do something you’ve never done. I love innovation and trial and error—with intention—so I have to look for employers who value the same things. My current job though it is a start up, and many higher ed institutions are NOT INTERESTED IN CHANGE.
They think they’re okay, and in some respects they are, but I am not someone who is satisfied with living. I am someone who always wants to be better. So, those places don’t fit me. I can say that now because I had to live through the disapppintment of bad fits and asking myself if I was the broken piece of the puzzle?
I am closer to being able to live in the truth of “its not you, it’s me.” And own who I am and what I need. Still, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t wish that I were more agreeable sometimes. I wish I were the type who could “be a good soldier” but I am not. And my uncle actually reframed this for me: he said that there are some people who know in their hearts what they can and cannot stand for and they speak up when other people can’t. Sometimes they’re killed for their opinions but where would we be if they had succumbed to silence ?
I wonder if Dr.King felt he disappointed the movement with his adultry? Or if he was able to compartmentalize himself? I wonder if other people who move great mountains—something I have always envisioned for myself—also felt like they were a disappointment because they were failing at being normal?
Normal isn’t the right word. I have always been among the best or most exceptional beings. Well liked and well respected with tokens of success to show for it. I had a beautiful, instagramable life that people still comment on thinking it is still my reality. That life feels so far away; I barely remember what it feels like to be able to take care of myself. To get a paycheck and most immediately be sent into panic because I owe most of it to rent, personal debts from borrowing to SURVIVE to payday, medicines and gas.
I’ve lived in fear of losing friends over money. I’ve lived in fear of asking family for help again and causing a deeper rift because it never ever goes well and in fact usually causes major discord. I’ve lived in fear that this season is nowhere near over and that maybe there is more to learn. I’ve asked myself what if it’s another 6 months of no job? Can you survive that? Are you willing to? Will you be able to if you can’t continue to afford your medicine?
It all scares me, to be honest. The unknown. Pregnant with possibility. I cry and beg god with no words but every fiber of my being: please make it stop and bring me peace.
I’m going to choose to believe that life will work out. I’m going to try grace. I’m going to try trusting my instincts more. I’m going to try to tell the truth without fear of judgment or persecution. I’m going to work to live a centered and intentional life. I’m not ready to give up. And I think anybody who can say that, can’t possibly fall prey to the weight of disappointment.
I feel deep shame over where I am. I feel deep shame because I thought I was smarter than to ever be in my current position but the truth is, life’s trials do not care about the degrees on your wall or your aptitude for greatness. If anything, these challenges present an opportunity for you to either fold or rise to the occasion and prove yourself. I have tried to continue getting up and telling myself: you are meant for more. This moment cannot defeat you unless you allow it to.
Ultimately though, the one thing that has allowed me to survive the many disappointments is the greater sense of knowing who I am and what I am meant to do. I am driven by a sense of clarity about my purpose in this life. It may take a while, but I shake off pain and hurt and even disappointment with the knowledge that those pitfalls are not personal. My ego and my pride always want to believe it is a personal attack. It’s not. It is simply the human experience and none of us is exempt from it.
Though I have many mixed emotions about being so public with my biggest insecurities, I am pushing through to publish. I’m trusting that just getting these feelings out will relieve me of even more of disappointments heavy burden. I want to take back my power and assert that what I have or do not have in the bank does not define me and I want to truly believe that. I want to shake off the worry that my students will see their beloved professor struggling and it will somehow make them think less of me. Saying that out loud feels so funny. Especially if you’ve ever actually been my student, I taught them not to be judgmental to consider context and circumstance and to above all things be empathetic. In fact, my students have been some of my most positive and affirming allies during my battle through unemployment.
When I come full circle, I see how the things I’ve given have come back to me. I see the importance of reaching out and continuing to check on people. I see the importance of actual phone calls or hand written letters. Remembering the names of grandmothers, grandfathers, important dates and milestones. Paying attention let’s people know you care and whenever I get that love and care returned back to me it is a moment of gratitude.
Help is the reward of a life well lived, a former classmate once said to me as she was helping me move. People are happy to return the favor when they know you’ve been there for them before and you would be there for them again. It was another way of hearing my therapists urging to have grace with myself. Trust and have faith and do not be so cynical and unforgiving. Things happen... I stumbled. It has taken me quite a while to recover but I am recovering.
thank you to those who continually support me. Thank you to those who have witnessed and sent your loving energy that too is important and valuable currency. Thank you to those who read and share. Thank you even more to those who reach out to me in dialogue. Thank you to everyone for believing in me and thank you even those of you who I have disappointed. I have disappointed myself as well but moving forward I say this to us in earnest: make room in your heart and mind for people (including yourself) to fail and disapppont but make just as much room for surprise and forgiveness. More often than not, your strength of survival will far surpass the depth of your fall so long as you have faith enough.
There isn’t a trophy for having figured out your next bit of work. There is no grand parade for feeling free of the weight of disappointment and living only in the light of truth but that is where I’m striving to go. Everyday I work a little bit harder to expand what it means to be Jessica Jamese and I allow her full breadth and depth without assigning meaning to the circumstances she has to endure. It is simply all part of my journey and the things I have no control over are opportunities for me to rise, so that is what I’ll work on doing.
JESSICA WILLIAMS, PHD IS A STORYTELLER WITH A COMMITMENT TO INTERSECTIONAL SOCIAL JUSTICE, AUTHENTIC DEVELOPMENT, AND THE INCREASE OF LEADERSHIP CAPACITY. TO BOOK HER FOR WRITING, COACHING, FACILITATION OR SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS, VISIT: WWW.JESSICAJAMESE.COM
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