I’ll Cry if I Want to

I’ve never had a birthday party.

I remember being slightly envious and disappointed every time I went to a friend’s large celebration as a young child and later as a teenager. As I neared the end of college, my envy shifted from wanting to be celebrated to wanting to be loved (which I suppose is one and the same). I worked hard to turn off my desire to be loved and cared for in that way, as many do when we have experienced hurt, abandonment, or plain ole disappointment. My most advanced coping mechanism and my most stubborn sin is independence. I convince myself that I don’t need the love, time, or care of others. It is my way of protecting my heart and keeping potential loved ones just far enough so that I can continue loving them without experiencing their mishandling of my heart.

I cried in bed with Matt a few nights ago as I grieved for the pieces of my heart that have been torn in my life, most during my childhood. Most healing with jagged, visible scars that are still tender to the touch. My nighttime mourning reminded me so strongly of conversations that I had with Matt many years ago during our first round at dating. He wanted in on my life; he would ask me to explain my bouts of anger, and I refused. I knew that if I began peeling away the hardened layers of anger, I would expose my pain, my infected girlhood wounds that never seemed to heal. I don’t think that either of us knew that we would continue this pas de deux for many years to come.

But, by the sweet, abundant grace of God, it has become easier for me to expose myself over the years. Have you ever tried to eat an uncracked pistachio? It’s difficult, but do-able if you work at it. That’s where I am now, as opposed to years ago when i was the uncracked nut (no pun intended) and you were a toothless, fingerless being.  I digress. Anywho, I cried a lot this past week. Apart from the night mentioned above, many of my tears were the outpouring of my soul’s surprise from the provision of Jesus, and his deep love for me and my little boy that is growing inside of a wounded mama.

I wasn’t expecting to be loved on as I was this past week. I’ve been conditioned to never expect love. It is a constant hurdle that my heart has to leap over on a regular basis. While in Florida this past week, I felt remembered, loved and celebrated in ways that I have never felt before.  There is a group of women in Florida, who love me. I can’t even write about them without crying. These women love me and express their love for me, and show me what it looks like to love my husband, my children, my God. They have become my big sisters, my mothers. They provide me with the things that I have convinced myself I do not deserve. They are the Lord’s hands in tending to my infected wounds.

After laughing for a few hours about our motherhood stricken bodies, making onsies, and a beautiful mobile for my baby boy, we gathered together and the women prayed for me.  This verse came to my mind as their prayers covered me. Those are the prayers that will  and I’m sure have sustained me. As I opened the generous gifts, I could feel the light of Jesus being shone on so many lies that had shaped my heart:“You are alone in this.” You will have to figure this out all on your own.” “There will never be enough money to REALLY take care of a baby.” “So what, you’re having a baby. No one else thinks this is THAT big of a deal.” As I got to my last gift, 3 home-made, soft, beautifully stitched blankets, the tears made their escape. The lies dissipated in the face of truth.

Fast forward a couple of days later in Miami. My family is not the most stable unit. We are terrible flawed and even more terribly bruised. After a disappointing family dinner, my oldest brother rushed me out of the house, promising that he would take me to see my cousins. In the car, we laughed, I farted, and soon enough, I’d forgotten to even pay attention to where I was. As I peeked inside of the dark house that my brother led me into, I was greeted with shouts of “surprise!”, blue balloons, gifts and my favorite, a Publix cake. I wanted to cry right then and there, but I stuffed my tears back into my eyes for the sake of my brothers and their distaste for sisterly emotion. We ate (again!) and laughed and I teased my brothers and cousins about their escape route if my water were to break. I opened presents for my little boy, their nephew and cousin. And again, on the last gift, I cried. “Stop. Don’t cry, sister.” My brother pleaded rather than commanded. But I couldn’t help it. I was in the midst of realizing that the Lord was and is doing a new thing.

To finish off the trip, the next morning, I received a phone call from my mom. She said that she would pick me up from my dad’s house in an hour. I lazily got up, wondering what the two of us would do together. I can’t remember the last time I had good quality time with my mom. Middle school, maybe? Our day together was the beginning of something good, I believe. We spent the day shopping for the baby, going overboard on cute clothes and nursery items. We even took a break for some Coldstone Ice cream.

Later that night, I cried (surprise!). I would be leaving Florida in just a matter of hours, and for the first time EVER, I didn’t want to. If I could have, I would have gripped the legs of my home state like toddler being torn away from her daddy. I realized that there is hope for me and my family. I realized that, one of the biggest encouragements for me in leaving Florida was that I would be with my friends, and yet, during this time of tremendous change, what I want most is to be with my family. To be with my brothers, who are beginning to make positive changes in their own lives for the sake of being good uncles. To be with my sister who loves feeling her little nephew kick in my belly, growing more and more tender with every word that she speaks to him. To be with my mom who is making efforts to be emotionally available. To be with my dad who is getting older, but has sparks of youth in his eyes when he is able to provide for his family. To be with my God-given sisters and mothers, who love me, provide for me, and are growing their own children, and the children of others.

I never had a vision for what my family could be. For who would be included in my family. It has been difficult for me to let people in, and I am saddened by my lack of investment in many of the relationships in my life that were such a blessing to me this past week. I am proud of the family that my son will have. Uncles, cousins, aunties, some who have the same blood coursing through their veins, others whose families and hearts we have been adopted into.

See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland

-Isaiah 43:19

 

29 weeks Preggo

This is a LONG past due and LONG update! You can watch the whole thing, or you can do what I do when you talk to me; tune in every five minutes, and then make your lunch plans in between 😉

An Idle (Pregnant) Mind…

“My boobs. are. HUGE. And heavier than I’d like them to be.”

“My poor, poor ankles…or, better yet, cankles. Why did I have to start swelling when Matt’s away?”

“Suck. Matt’s gone.:sniffle: Four.More. Days. :sniffle”

“Pickles is definitely not as much fun as I’d like him to be. He sleeps so damn much!”

“Pickles..on a burger…french fries!”

“I can’t paint my toenails. I can barely see my feet.:sigh:”

“My boobs! ”

“How does the whole shaving thing work now…?”

“I really need that burger. ASAP.”

“Not Your Erotic, Not Your Exotic”

Not much elaboration. I saw this video today in a completely different context. These are the words that I wish I’d had some 8 years ago when I began my “dating journey” for lack of better words. Being the “exotic” Black girl got old, real fast. But, more on the background later; this is amazing art.

 

 

Naked as a Jaybird

This is a phrase that is often spoken by my family. “That woman naked as a jaybird!” “Knock before you come in! I’m naked as a jaybird in here!” Oh, I love my family and all of our cultural quirks. Yesterday, while eating the most massive bowl of cereal, I walked from the kitchen to our living room, starring at the television playing in our neighbor’s apartment across the courtyard. And then…I looked down at my Spalding shaped stomach which covered my lady parts from MY view, but not from the neighbors. And my preggo boobs. “AWW snap! I’m walkin around here naked as a jaybird!” I squealed, running to close every curtain in the room, banning even the sun from my glory.

Since I’ve been pregnant, I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable with my body. It didn’t consciously happen. I just began to become so dang on uncomfortable with my clothes always touching me, that I developed a clothing removal ritual. As soon as I enter the threshold of our apartment, first, the purse/bag is dropped, then the shoes, then pants, then bra. I just let everything hang loose. Sure, my boobs might end up kissing my knees in a few years, but maybe one of the perks of having a small rack is that they will stay put. Maybe?

I haven’t always been an exhibitionist. Of course I pushed the boundaries in high school. I  never really wore a bra then either, but I got better in college. Except at night. At night, my poor bestie would often feel the ‘flop’ of my bra falling on her bottom bunk. In fact, when I got dressed in the mornings, I often looked under her bed to get my cups. When I got married, I still didn’t walk around butt booty naked. I mean, even in marriage, I think it’s important to leave a little somethin somethin to the imagination.

But, now, I have ruined my husband’s imagination . I’m not able to shave everyday. Do I care? Mildly. Does that stop me from being naked as a jaybird? No. I did propose my plan to get an epilator to Matt. He doesn’t care, and doggonit, neither do I. My body is what it is. The more time that I spend unclothed, the more that I fall in love with God  and all of his power and creativity in designing the female body. The more I fall in love with my little boy who is growing and for the only time in his life, is being completely obedient and under the sole influence of God, and the more I love my body. I love being a woman. I love having breasts that will give my baby nourishment. I love knowing that while I’ve always felt that I’ve had a rather boyish body, that the Lord is using it to exemplify one of the most beautiful purposes of women; to bring life into the world.

I love that even with these small hips, I’m carrying a womb full. I love that my legs still carry me when I feel like they won’t. I love the freedom that I’m receiving with this pregnancy,  (and I think Matt does too!)

So, here’s my challenge to you, women folk! TAKE IT OFF! Enjoy your bodies, curves, folds, boobies! I guarantee you that your spouse will too. (I’m not just talking sexually. The confidence that oozes out of a woman who loves her body is…attractive and admirable across the board.) If you are unmarried, GO STREAKING IN THE QUAD! No lol, jk. But DO go streaking in your house/apartment.

I found inspiration in the most unexpected of places. Love it or hate it, this little girl has enough confidence to school all of us women. Do you know a good thing when you see it? (start at 1:50 if you don’t have patience..and the parenting may scare you a bit lol)

I’m too tired to think of a real closing for this post, so, just get naked already.

 

Woke Up Black

Today I “Woke up Black”. This Trayvon case is weighing heavy on my heart. Unlike my sisters and brothers who are not of color, I don’t have the privilege of distancing myself and waiting for the facts to be presented. Umoja is what we live by as a people. What is often forgotten, is that slavery is only 2-4 generations away for many African/Black Americans. The wounds are still fresh. The effects still linger.  I’m praying for my unborn child today. I’m praying that as a person of color, as an African-American, he or she will guard their hearts against color blindness. I’m praying that my little bi-racial baby would walk in the footsteps of his/her daddy, using whatever influence that the good Lord gives it, to build bridges and to bring awareness and light to a jaded world that unknowingly ignores injustice. I’m praying that this little baby would embody the compassion, wisdom, and power, of the many freedom fighters who have gone before it. I’m praying that this child would be so much better than I am, because my heart is hurting, and the emotion that I turn to when hurt, is anger.

I’m so angry  hurt that over, and over again, my perspective and experience as a person of color has been degraded by assumptions like: “This is not a racial case”, “Trayvon wasn’t so innocent”, “We don’t know Zimmerman’s story”. I’ve reduced these very well elaborated thoughts to very simple sentences, but I think the general gist is there. Here’s the thing…the best way to put it is in the words of a famous, crude, ridiculously offensive musical. “Everyone’s A Little Bit Racist”. Just about everything that happens in our nation is motivated in some part by race.  I’ll just leave it at that.

Secondly, we all know that many of the pictures circulating the internet of Trayvon, were in fact, NOT Trayvon. :smh: But if they were, and just assuming that everything that we have read about Trayvon and his suspensions from school, him wearing a hoodie is true, someone, please tell me, WHY DOES IMAGE IMPACT JUSTICE?! Why, oh why, oh why??  I really appreciated President Obama’s comment regarding the matter; “If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon.” Ditto, Mr. President. To know that we live in a world, where your sense of fashion dictates the empathy and compassion that others feel for you, as a soon to be mother and social worker/advocate, disgusts me.

Thirdly, it is very true that we don’t know Zimmerman’s story. I pray that the real story would come to surface, and that Latinos and African/Black Americans can begin having honest dialogue, and forgiving each other for the hurts that we have caused, both intentionally, and as a result of our cultures being pitted against one another in this nation (more on that later). But, even without the facts, we must mourn that a 17 year old child was killed, for virtually no reason. I don’t care if you don’t think that 17 is young enough to be labeled as a child; Just you wait until you’ve had one, are preparing to pop one out, or you have really thought about the life cycle, and how much more life, how many more experiences, how much more growth , should happen after 17 years.

And..I think that is the part that hurts. It hurts that once again, I feel abandoned by the rest of America. Ok, I’ll just say it. I feel abandoned, and I feel that my people have been abandoned by White America. I feel that we are mourning alone. No one stands besides us when we grieve over a lost child. Who acts as the hands of Jesus, promising to bring comfort to those who mourn? We do. As we have always done, we must stand in solidarity, because if we don’t support each other, what we have learned time and time again, is that no one will. No one.  And so our walls continue being fortified. We continue gaining trust in one another, and losing trust in ‘everyone else’.  We continue being the ‘other’ voice, the voice that is not justified, or rational, because we are unheard.

And while I pray that things will be for different my children, and the children of my ancestors’ wombs, I know that tomorrow will be the same. Tomorrow, I’ll wake up, Black.

Mama Said There’ll Be Days Like These

Actually, she didn’t. No one really prepared me for where I am at this moment. Sure, I’ve had small glimpses, but I never expected to be here. 2011 was an arduous year, piled with painful self realizations, faith testing marital issues (I hear that’s what happens when two humans tie themselves to one another), and separating (to some extent) from the bulk of what has kept me a sane, functioning, Jesus filled person (Gainesville, all things InterVarsity, Debbie). But here I am, in 2012, wondering why no one told me this was coming! Shame on you all!

Ok, Catcher in the Rye moment aside, even if you told me, I probably wouldn’t have listened . In 2011 I was too busy stuffing my own victimization into the ears of my heart. I filled my very often, empty reflection times with trying to find  escape routes from my past tragedies. I wanted a fix. I remember praying for a magical pause button. At 24 years old, I prayed that Jesus would plop down a game-boy sized life controller onto my lap giving me time to just understand what the hell had happened and was happening in my life. I spent a lot of time feeling defeated. I spent a lot of time just knowing that things would never get better. I spent way too much time asking ‘why?’ And now, here I am asking ‘how?!”

My heart was so jaded that it has been difficult to see the continuous work of the Lord’s hand in changing my heart, redeeming my past, restoring my mind and bringing peace to my soul. Today, and for the past 3 months, it’s as if everyday is morning. It took me a while to mourn the loss of my childhood, the loss of my ideal life, and now, it is morning. I have more than I have ever  dared to dream for, and no one prepared me for this. The story of the blind man in Mark (8:22-25) is the only way that I can illustrate what Jesus has done to me this year. I must’ve gotten that really good, from the back of the throat kinda spit lol.

So, here I am, in my typical fashion, 5 days late, tryna think about New Years resolutions. I’ve slubbed around my apartment long enough, enjoying my break before school. Now, it is time to freakin live, doggonit. And that’s what I’m determined to do this year. I’m going to do the things that bring me life. I’m going to enjoy the good mornings with my husband. I’m going to reflect well and often on what a blessing he is to me, on the deep, incomparable, intimate friendship that I have with him. I’m going to laugh hard with him, I’m going to work on expressing myself more authentically, and I’m going to kiss him till his lips are chapped!

I’m going to dance every chance that I get. I’ve finally found a dance studio that challenges and nurtures me, and I’m going to be there, using my student discount every week till my toes bleed. And I’ll probably stay even when that happens.

I’m going to take advantage of all of the learning opportunities that I will gain while in school and during my internship. I am so proud of myself for getting into graduate school. I am the first to pursue a Master’s degree in my family. I haven’t allowed myself to feel proud, to feel empowered, to feel motivated by my success. Well, congratulations, sexy brain! You’re living beyond your dreams!

I’m going to move on. Partially because of who I am and partially because of my past, I’ve lived my life in a constant state of worry. This past year I have worried about my family, my damaged relationships therein, and making myself unhealthily vulnerable to the brokenness of others. I have learned this year that Jesus doesn’t need a sidekick. He is the one who heals; he is the one who convicts; he is the one who loves. All I need to do is follow Him, and learn to love while learning to love myself.

And finally, I am going to give thanks more often. When I think about the story in Mark, I think about those who brought the blind man to Jesus, who had to have hope that Jesus would give this man something that he’d been yearning for all his life, yet, had never known. I’m thankful for those who brought me through this year with their time to listen, their dedication to prayer, their arms and homes that brought comfort, their generosity, gentleness and hope. Thank you, Berry and Dawn, Scott and Haley, Alison and Ricky, Debbie, Rekha, Morgan, Karima.  You took me to Jesus so that he could spit in my eyes lol.

So, bottoms up! Here’s to a new year of life! I’m ready to live the hell out of 2012. Literally.

-Eva

It’s Possible

I know it’s been a hot minute since I’ve last posted: hangs head in shame: I WILL do better. Between moving, adjusting, being lazy, and having to share a computer with a graphic designer/web developer, I spend much of my computer time just doing the basics: reading hair blogs, fashion blogs, email, and youtube lol. I found this video of one of my artistic heros, Misty Copeland. Watching her always makes me want to do better with my discipline as an artist, and well… as a human being. I hope this video inspires you all.

Reminiscing…

A year later, and I am still choking on the vomit of memories that replay all too vividly in my mind. I was chased out of a place that was supposed to provide solace like a filthy, demon possessed pig. The most hurtful words to a fragile spirit were hurled at me with disgust for my very being: “You are a messed up individual!” I cried all the way home. An hour drive from Ocala back to Gainesville (luckily Matt was at the wheel). I cried for the next week. And the week after that. I told no one about this incident except for my best friend, and my now counselor.  As I read these words, they sound unreal.  The experience was a real life, hellish nightmare. Its crazy, for lack of better words, to be where I am now, knowing that this risk that I took, to drive an hour away for counseling, was the start to my active healing process.

As I oiled my hair this evening, I felt a surge of giddiness, widening my mouth into a child-like, goofy smile as I thought about my daddy visiting tomorrow. My daddy. My daddy is a 6’7 giant. His smile makes the moon shudder in jealousy. He makes Wolverine look like an underweight, pre-adolescent boy.  He always has a kind gesture up his sleeve and I am, always have been, and always will be his baby girl. Ok,  not all of those things are technically true. My daddy is actually just short of about 5’8, and well…gravity, retirement, and Neopolitan ice cream have kinda gotten the best of him, but the rest is completely true. I thought about my daddy and how he has always worked to protect me, even when years passed without me knowing it. I thought about how he made me wear long pants all of the time (in Miami!) so that I wouldn’t skin my knees in my reckless tree climbing, clothesline swinging, and bike racing. I thought about him walking me to my classroom and giving me a hug and kiss every single day of elementary school while all of the other kids were lucky if they got a parent to even drive them to school. I thought about him having the awkward talk with me in 7th grade about dressing modestly (and how I rolled my eyes and turned on my internal jukebox.). I remembered him taking one look at me, my senior year of high school, and just knowing that ‘that boy’ had broken my heart. I remember seeing the fury in his eyes and I remember feeling the comfort in his hug.

And as I oiled my hair, I stuffed my tears back into my eyes. Why didn’t I tell my daddy about this incident? He would have protected me. He would have served that crooked counselor the most intense form of justice the world had ever heard of. And with the types of people my daddy rolls with, that is no exaggeration. She would’ve been sorry for not being a better steward of her profession, ‘Christian Counselor’. She would’ve been the one, staring in the mirror with tears rolling down her face, and I would have been simply, oiling my hair tonight.

A year ago, I felt helpless. I felt like the 6 year old me, whose head was much too large for her body, but wore a semi toothless grin everywhere she went. And that is the age that I learned to hide things from my daddy. I could not let my daddy protect me anymore. I could not hold his hand and feel safe from the monster that came out at night, because, I had to protect the image of my innocence, my strength and smarts ( I was always Daddy’s smart, sassy girl). And so I stopped letting my Daddy protect me. And I have always had an outer strength, but an inner fragility.

But a year ago, I was, and today, I am an adult, and I suppose it is my responsibility to take good care of myself. I am not a helpless little girl, bound by the sin of others. I am a woman. I have wisdom, and unconquerable strength. I have a voice.

And my tears tonight, were because I did not know that a year ago. I wish I had some way to bring justice to this situation. I wish I had told my daddy, just to see once again, the fury in his eyes and to feel the comfort in his hug. I wish that I had told him so that I could see him go through extreme measures to ensure that this would never happen again. There is so much comfort that comes with justice.  I wish I had known what to do, other than to retract to weeks of hidden tears and anguish. It is good to look back and see how the Lord took care of me (that horrific experience led me to my now counselor who has become a mother to me), but it is still unsettling to have felt and still feel so vulnerable, unprotected, forgotten, worthless, helpless.

I haven’t found closure. I haven’t even necessarily found peace. I am still in pain. I still have things to work out with Jesus, understanding the full range of his provision and protection. But as I think about my daddy, coming up from Miami this weekend, just to bring me a bucket of mangoes and to see his baby girl, I know that Father cares. And for tonight, that will be enough.