A few days ago, I was visited by a ghost from my past. This ghost was someone I had been pretending no longer existed, essentially as a means of coping with the very real fact that they were no longer a part of my life. I had spent the past nine months grieving for them, for us, for our imagined future in a vacuum; a time-space reality where they didn't reside. In my protective mind state, I had been granted custody of planet earth and this person had been banished to a far away galaxy. It was safer that way. But, nine months later, the time had finally arrived to come face to face with that which I feared most. Nine months... A weighty period of time; 273 days to be precise; the time it takes to grow a human life. There's something incredibly haunting about staring into the eyes of someone you once knew after so much time has passed; something deeply unnerving; a familiar stranger. But I faced my fear nonetheless and I somehow made it out the other side unscathed; bruised but no longer broken. I had looked that ghost in the eyes, wished him love and released him. Released him so we both might live. Of course it wasn't easy. In fact I hadn't consciously registered the weight of the event until it had passed. I had to will my legs to carry me home. I desperately pleaded with them, MOVE...please, but after a few metres I was forced to admit defeat, collapsing on a bench, slowly attempting to gather my strength. In that moment I wondered if I might die on that bench. I was approximately a ten minute walk from home and I wondered whether I'd make it. Dramatic maybe, but my body felt completely drained of its life force energy. I'd reopened an old wound and I was bleeding out on that bench...
But I made it, and 24 hours later I felt like me again.
After that very real and yet surreal experience I sat and gave some thought to how I had been seen that day. I imagine my growth is no doubt palpable, but how had change looked through the eyes of my old love? I had been on the most expansive journey over the last nine months; everything about me had changed – the alchemy of pain. I can see and feel radical changes within my body – it's more at ease, more womanly, more sensual, more political. It feels safe to be inside my body again and I'm more aware of its wants and needs; of its desires; of its cycles. It feels more vital, more rebellious, difficult to tame, wild. Free.
How we appear to ourselves and others seems to be a continuous unfolding, wrapped up in conditioning and various ideologies, often distorted. As a woman, life can sometimes feel like a series of identity crises – I've been told I'm either too much or not enough; too strong or too soft. And as a black woman, the list of projections and misconceptions is staggering. A strange interplay between invisibility and standing out; undervalued and over-fetishised. I can recall countless times I have diluted, shrunk and silenced myself in a bid to challenge the Angry Black Female stereotype. But not anymore. Some days I am angry – look around, there's a lot to be angry about – but I'm so much more than that. I am loving whispers and sun-soaked kisses, ego, spirit, knowing glances, fire and freedom, wishful thinking, awkward tension, stardust, rage and despair, cocoa hues, self-soothing, self-sabotage, aimless wandering, resilience. And everything in between. Because after all, we are multifaceted, multilayered, complex human beings; walking contradictions. We are perfection. And we can never (nor should we even attempt to) control how we are viewed by another, but we can however take ownership over how we choose to we see ourselves, how we choose to show up in the world.
I see myself in you and you in me – and the view's pretty spectacular from here.