I was my parents’ little girl for about 3 years and 8 months. After my sister was born I was nobody’s little girl. There is more to this story but suffice it to say for all intents and purposes I didn’t belong to anyone. My parents both left the country to go and work overseas and left my sister and me with my maternal grandmother. My sister was 11 months so she needed all the care. I grew up rather quickly because I was expected to become the big girl and take care of things. There was not much room for grieving my loss of status, my change in living accommodations and above all, there was no room for whining as a dark-skinned girl.
This morning as I sat down to eat my breakfast, thoughts of my dad floated in. I didn’t know the man well, and at his death, I had just began making the effort to rebuild that relationship. That effort was cut short and for years I regretted this. In any case, since my move to Central New York, I’ve been met with several challenges. This morning I thought, just out of the blue, I wish daddy were alive. Purely for the evil joy that I would have him perform some juju to shield me from all this negativity that seems to be swirling around me. My father was a traditional healer and he had that sixth sense. Sadly, it didn’t stop him from losing the battle to cancer.
He was larger than life in all aspects of it but most importantly, he was always fastidious about his faith. He was a staunch Roman Catholic, read at mass, gave to the church, and you could find him every Sunday he was in town, in the front pew at the downtown cathedral. With equal reverence, he also practiced juju. He was a servant of Mami Wata, our mermaid God. I know little about this part of his life because our version of the Catholic faith we were raised with demanded that we divorce from all this. The colonizer’s God did not play ball with the heathens’ Gods. How my dad managed to blend the two is still beyond me! Nevertheless, he did. This morning as the nervousness rushed back to cloak me, I thought of him. I whispered to him: “I was your little girl. Can you come shield your little girl?” I’m sure he would do anything for me. He had a lot of regrets at the end when the cancer was finally done with him. Key among these was how he treated my mother and how he barely knew his children. I forgave him before he died, but sometimes, I think he still owes me, and this is how he can pay up. But then I think, would he see it as good juju or bad juju? Is it good juju if it’s just for protection and nothing bad happens to the other person(s)? Is it bad juju either way? Today is not near an anniversary of birth or death so I am unsure why thoughts of him occupy my mind the way they do. Perhaps it’s just that life has tightened its grip just enough that I feel the pinch and would love to have it loosen its grip a little. And since nothing in the earthly, physical realm that I seemingly control is working, perhaps, just maybe, a little help from the Gods wouldn’t be such a bad idea.
I’ve put my book on hold for 6 years. The memoir, half written, zero edited, mocks me sometimes. I attempt to bring the printed copy along to trick my brain into seeing it and feeling guilty. That act has failed several times over. This morning when daddy popped into my head, I thought of the memoir. The chapter about him is the one that is most complete, and it was almost like he was encouraging me to pick it back up and continue writing. I write well. I can articulate myself so well that my enemies don’t know I’ve insulted them until it’s too late. I have a command of the colonizer’s language that both pleases and annoys me, but it is what it is. So why do I hesitate to write? Why have I allowed this memoir to mock me all these years?
A sister writer friend of mine talks about the Imposter Syndrome. Most days I avoid applying any of her analysis to myself but when I do, it makes me cringe. I don’t write simply because most days I feel I don’t have anything worth saying. The reality though is that, to be a disciplined writer, I must write every day. No matter what flows out of my head I should write something. I don’t have to post everything or for that matter, anything. But I should write. But I don’t’ because I don’t trust that the world wants to hear from me, despite all the encouragement I get from various friends. “You have a way with words!” they say. Imposter Syndrome holds me back from writing. How can I tell my students to go for it while I sit here?
This week, an assignment I gave my students asked them to draw a box and divide it into 4 quadrants and label each quadrant as follows:
Important and Urgent; Important and Not Urgent
Unimportant and Urgent; Unimportant and Not Urgent
Once the quadrants were labelled, they were to place each activity they had conducted that day into its appropriate quadrant and to see where they were spending most of their time and how this would eventually impact the goals for their future. As I was grading, I realized I’d be a hypocrite to an extent if I was preaching something and not putting it into practice, so I drew up my own box and labelled my quadrants. Having no kids, pets, or significant other and having semi non-existent familial relationships means besides feeding and clothing myself, making sure I sleep and take meds, there is nothing else drawing on my time. Y’all let me tell you how embarrassed I was to see that I had 6 of my 24 hours logged in Unimportant and Not Urgent. That is a whole quarter of my day. Why don’t I have several books written? Shamefaced, I closed my journal and started to think about what some of my busy mother sister friends would give to have 6 hours of free time. I wouldn’t have to fill each day’s 6 hours of course; I could start small and fill one of it at a time or maybe just a couple hours each day. At the end of each night before I begin my meditation app, after I take my meds, I lie there and think where did the time go? But staring the 6 hours in the face on a piece of paper made it become The Revelation of the evening. Wow! How were those Unimportant and Not Urgent hurting my future goals in life? Sure, I was expending a lot of brain energy existing in the negative vortex that is currently swirling around my life so my excuse for carving away aimlessly at my life pumpkin was that I needed that detox space. I needed to do nothing to compensate for the constant “fight” that my brain and body were engaged in. It was easy to convince myself that was the best solution to the situation at hand.
This morning as I ate my breakfast though and thought of daddy and Gods and juju and being rescued, I deduced, sure an extra layer of spiritual protection couldn’t hurt but I believe that I have a lot of power over my life and I can use what knowledge I have to channel this power in healing myself in other ways even if doctors can’t find a cure or the proverbial white person has it in for me. So perhaps that is why daddy came to mind this morning. Sure, maybe to remind me that I was loved, that I do belong to someone, but also that I am powerful beyond measure and I need to start living into that power and begin healing myself. Writing has always been healing for me and at the worst of times, it’s what gets me through. Although I’m not turning down any juju for me or my enemies, I am choosing to write for now. But for real though, bring on the juju!