To you, still healing from a theology of self denial:
Maybe you over correct sometimes and give yourself everything you want.
Maybe that’s how you teach yourself the new way – that God delights in your joy.
Maybe indulgence is the cure to the venom shoved down your throat time and time again.
Maybe gluttony is how you unlearn starvation.
Maybe one day you’ll wake up and no longer see scarcity.
I wrote this from a very personal place a few months ago. I am still in recovery from all the ways a theology of self denial buried itself so deeply into my subconscious mind and shapes the way I moved through the world. I had been doing the work of unlearning for sometime and this time it just felt like I was moving to close to indulgence. Almost like I needed a season of my life where I could indulge for all the times I was deprived. That concerned me a bit so I wanted to write something to a version of myself that felt anxious at how much I was just letting myself live in freedom. In reality freedom can feel too expansive when you’ve been caged for a while. So I had to remind myself that this freedom. A normal part of the recovery process.
Grace, peace, and freedom to all of us unlearning theologies that taught us that the only currency we had to access goodness was self deprivation.
(A testament of the ways our bodies move through space simultaneously hypervisibile and invisible).
Children are seen not heard. You tuck yourself into a corner. Trying to make yourself a wallflower. No one pays any meaningful attention to you. Until you are 6. At your grandma’s house. That older uncle pulls you into the closet. Takes off your shirt. Rubs on your growing breast. You are confused. You yell. You are surprised by how loud you sound. No one comes running at the sound of your yell. He apologizes. Tells you to not tell anyone. That no one will believe you. He never comes around again. You never tell anyone.
You’re in school now.
You’ve started bringing home report cards.
You are learning a kind of worthiness
measured by letters of the alphabet.
A is good. F is bad.
You will be left to your peace with an A.
There will be yelling with an F.
You get A’s as an insurance policy for peace.
You are an A student.
You’ve worked very hard on your grades.
Your friends dare you
to sneak out to a house party.
You decide to do it!
You're wearing a dress that hugs your body
It makes you feel good.
You are dancing.
You notice hungry eyes on you the entire time.
It’s the first time you feel real power.
You also feel unsafe.
You leave early to come back home.
You meet your mom at the door
Wearing a mix of worry and anger on her face
She is more upset about what you wore
than the sneaking out.
She calls you a bad girl.
She slaps you.
You are afraid of this side of her.
You wish you could talk to her about
feeling both powerful and unsafe.
You tell yourself you can never trust her.
You will later find out she was raped
the first time she snuck away from home.
You are now in a professional program
At a prestigious University.
You can't finding mentors within your program.
Professors don’t offer support.
You are always requested when pictures are taken.
Their token of diversity.
You finally decide to take this up with the Dean.
How you feel used and unsupported.
He says you are overreacting.
You need to stop being so sensitive.
To consider it a privilege to even be there.
“Our ancestors weren’t allowed to be here”
he says. He is biracial.
You think "we don’t have the same ancestors."
You are angry at his gaslighting.
You swallow your words.
You internalize powerlessness.
You’re the only Black Woman at your organization.
Your colleagues notice when your hair changes.
They don’t notice when your face wears exhaustion.
Or maybe they do and just don't check in.
You’ve worked there for 10 years.
You still have to show your ID to security.
Tom has been at the organization for 2 years
Everyone at security knows him.
He is being groomed for the promotion
you've had your eyes on for years.
It’s your 33rd birthday.
Life hasn’t shaped up how you wanted it to be.
And yet. Life is good.
You have more than a few “happy birthday” wishes.
Lots of people proclaiming their "love."
Including the love of your life.
Who broke up with you because
he wasn’t ready for a serious commitment.
He is currently engaged to a white woman
He met her 3 months after your breakup.
It's been a year.
Your bed is still empty.
You haven't stopped hoping
he will come back.