I’ve beaten myself up for not writing. I’ve thought about writing…a lot! I’ve told others I quit writing. That there’s not enough time in the world these days. The reality is, I was so scared of everything that was going on inside, I didn’t dare write. Most of you who know me in person and know me well, know that I can’t hide my heart, no matter how hard I try. I’ve lost 10 pounds in 3 weeks. Just like that whoosh. The pounds that folks struggle to shave off. The pounds that took me two years to accumulate, most of it gone like that. You know why? People! I let people in and once again, they disappointed me. However, I don’t want to focus on that as much as to why I am at the blog again today after so many months and practically after two years since any regular writing.
I am here because I turned 40 three weeks ago and I finally decided to stop chasing and start living for me. Sometimes I chase for the thrill; this is usually the mania at its height. Sometimes I chase because I am desperate not to be left. At other times, I chase because I have learned that I am pretty darn irresistible and it’s more of a “let’s-see-how-long-you-can-survive-this-torture” chase than an actual wanting. Sometimes it’s D: all of the above.
All of the above boils down to the feeling, the want, the need to belong which is strong for a kid who was left. Please assign no blame here. I’m merely stating a fact. I was left at age 4 by both parents. They cared enough to leave me with a responsible caregiver and they cared enough to write, call, and send me whatever I asked for. But the reality is that, at a crucial age, I was left by the two most important figures in my life. Acknowledging this has taken years. A few days ago, I wept bitterly and folks, my weeping bitterly is not pretty. It’s full of hiccups and missed words and halted speech. SMH…not pretty.
So anyway, I was weeping bitterly in a small conference room at the Motherhouse of the Dominican Sisters of Peace. There is a room here for me, if ever I need one; I am convinced. These nuns raised me when I arrived in the U.S. a naive, overly pious virgin catholic school girl. They’ve been there every step of the way these past 21 years. Anyhoo, I digress.
So I wept. Because finally at age 40, the root of why I have been in counseling for a good portion of my 21 years in the U.S. came up. I almost choked on the words as I voiced them. Took time to hear it with my own ears. I was left. One day both of the parents were there and the next day, they were not. I don’t have much memory of this time in my life because I’ve lost a lot of memory with my bipolar medications, but that’s a story for another day. All I remember is, they were gone and I was left with the big bad wolf in the form of my maternal grandmother. This characterization is also one story for another day. They were gone and I was alone. And to boot, I had acquired a shadow in the form of my 11-month old sister. I am told I reverted to being a child whereas I had seemed to be a well-adjusted precocious 4 year-old prior to this incident. I refused to walk anywhere. The housegirls had to carry me. I begun sucking my thumb and peeing the bed again. This only served to endear me to my maternal grandmother…not! I was already her least favorite grandchild for my kinky hair and dark brown skin and now I had become a child when she was busy caring for a real one. She cut my hair that my mom had nurtured and grown nicely. Grandmother didn’t have time for fussing with kinky hair.
You get the picture. A disaster occurred but the child was ignored and made to pay when the irritation for the adults was unbearable. No one bothered to ask the child why the change in behavior. A particular image sticks ever so heavily in my mind and keeps replaying the last few weeks as old wounds have been reopened and new cuts have appeared:
I was forgotten at daycare. I am not sure exactly how it happened. I have no idea who was responsible for picking me up that day. All I know is, I was walked home by one of the daycare teachers who lived near our home. She intended to deliver me home and go on to hers since it was so late in the day. When we arrived, there was no one to answer the door. She sat me on the front steps, shielded from passers’ gaze by the bougainvillea blooming by the walls. She must have given me some speech about big girls not crying, and probably because my work was already cut out for me as a dark child, I knew better than to start crying. I am not sure how long I sat on the steps until the first family member came home. I am quite sure that no fuss was made over someone forgetting to collect me.
I tell you this to mention one of the main reasons for blogging today. Not to make you feel pity or for you to shame me for once again airing “dirty laundry” as I’m oft wont to do. I tell you to state a simple fact. All my life I have been left. Sometimes not on purpose I’m sure. At first I spent time being the best there could be so there’d be no reason for anyone to leave. Then I wizened up and I left before they could leave. In between there somewhere I groveled and clung when there was any inclination towards exodus or if I so much as sussed that there would be.
Today at 40 and 23 days, I am done. I refuse to chase or beg or cajole or plain out ask you to stay or hang out or be my friend. I am my own best friend, and as my forever nun said to me, I’m the only one who can reach out to 4 year old Kuukua and plug this open heart wound that’s been bleeding for 36 years. She said instead of shooing her away or chastising her for clinging, perhaps I could reach out my arms to her and let her cling to me. Profound huh?
I am aware that folks are busy. Hell, if I don’t hustle I will be moving back in with my mother. So I understand busy. I get that I do not have the added stress of a partner or offspring but I know my busy is busy too. However, somehow in my busy, I find time to send a text, Whatsapp, call, FB message. The least other busy folks can do is return the favor sometime. I am choosing to hang out with me or sleep or read or write instead of constantly pestering folks for a date to hang out. I think if the pestering went both ways, I’d be less inclined to stop. But from where I sit, I can’t keep banging. I know I am worth it and not just for what I can give or provide but just because I am.
So folks, this is why I’m here today. To say I refuse to chase any longer. Well…I am chasing little me who is proving quite difficult to catch up with because the walls she’s built are almost unscalable. But we will get there someday. We will plug this gaping wound and we will be all the better for it.
When folks that are your quote-end-quote strong Black women are hurt, I believe it takes them so long to heal because they never fully allow themselves to admit that they have been hurt so badly they don’t know where to begin. Well, let me be your first example of a strong Black woman to say:
Hi, My name is Kuukua and I have been hurt and I have finally decided to find a way to begin recovery.
Chorus All (you): Hi Kuukua, welcome!