*Please be advised: Although I did not go into detail, this post may be triggering if you have experienced domestic violence or sexual abuse.
I remember the first time I saw my first love. I remember hearing his voice over the telephone telling me he was having his third child by a woman who wasn’t me. I remember feeling proud to be a little black girl with a big, strong, handsome daddy. I remember the feeling of defeat that came over me when he irreparably violated me. I remember the first time my ex-husband hit me with a leather belt.
I remember being broken. I remember struggling to recover—finding work, transportation, a new home, revising my spirituality in an effort to ensure I was okay. After a while I thought I was okay, but who ever heals from these heartbreaks? Can the heart really be mended? I don’t know. I sometimes think that after the heart is broken again and again the best we can do is collect the pieces and reconstruct them as a glowing mosaic—perhaps more beautiful than before.
I had to stop feeling sorry for myself, for sure. I had to understand that other people’s faults and dishonor were not my own. They were not a reflection on me. I still can’t say how I attracted them, exactly or why I would NEED the lessons I learned. I can say that I mined these experiences for wisdom and direct knowledge about ways to protect, honor, and love myself whether others would or not.
I have faith in love because I know my heart. I know the depths of the feelings I feel and my willingness to press on beyond pain, to forgive repeatedly, to strive for compassion and patience. I know my desire for family and my desire for generosity and creating mutually supportive situations.
I believe in love because I believe the Spirit at the core and center of every being is perfect love. We are all here, learning as we go, doing the best we can with what we know and often hurting one another badly along the way.
My faith is in the inseparable oneness of all life.
So while there are ones I will likely never speak to or see in this lifetime again — we are still one. And because time is but one eternal moment our love and togetherness is still playing out in full, living color now. “I carry you in my heart,” means I do not seek to obliterate all memories of you, but that when I think on you I think with fondness, or at the very least—gratitude.
Thank you for making me strong, for making me bold enough to choose me, despite your selection. Thank you for the time we shared, for witnessing me and for being something that I loved to witness. Thank you for assisting me in the process of clarifying what I desire in life. Thank you for your examples of what to do and what never to do. Thank you, thank you!
Love is gratitude. Love is appreciation. It is all things working for the good of those who love the Most High. It is okay, all the things that have been done to me and around me. I find ways to use everything to my benefit. The abandonment, the sorrow, the heartbreak, the betrayals, the cruelty—they did not make me love myself less. They did not make me stop believing in love—nothing could, like nothing could make me stop believing in God.
Sometimes, I have stopped believing that certain people and relationships were good for me. I have not blamed God for humans’ weakness, frailty or sickness. I have carried on in spite of shortcomings (mine and others’) and found a way to align myself with purpose and love.
I have found a way to feel as good as I could feel, I have found a way to reach for feelings of passion, delight, freedom, relief. I have found a way because the other option would have killed me. Depression. I have felt deep sadness like being carried me out to sea—I have felt the cold, sick feeling of floating out there, alone, with nothing to grab on to. I worked my way back to shore.
My heart is strong—courageous. I understand that life comes with tragedy and sadness, automatically. I see it, but I also have learned that I am equipped with the ability to focus. i concentrate on loving, supporting, encouraging and pouring into others and myself. I’ve learned to reintroduce others to them Selves. I have learned to stay in tune with my Self regardless of what is happening around me.
I have found that my Self, is a refuge and a haven in this world.
It still feels like an incredible privilege to be alive. It still feels like I am seeking and striving. It feels like I am on to something and there’s still much work to be done by me. I have found ways to love—to feel love and access love whether I am alone or in a crowd. Love is the most intimate part of my being. Experiences where I share this love with others are simply an extension of my being. I can have the love whether people stay or go.