It Is Yours To…
Those of you who know me personally might find it hard to imagine me as a skinny, long-legged child with ponytails but that I was, at least for a while. The memories of those days came to me this past week when I read a text message received from someone who I have no real relationship with. So, I promptly ignored it as I have learned very well how to stand in my truth.
This is another of my evergreen posts – ones that were shared before but remain fundamentally true. The opening remains the same as it did 11 years ago when it was first written and you are invited to take this trip down memory lane with me.
Growing up in a country, Jamaica, where dishonesty often seems the best policy; where some ‘bad guys’ drive the best cars, have the biggest houses and wear designer clothing, one could forgive me if my relationships were marked by trickery and deceit.
“Speak the truth and speak it ever” is something we would say to each other on the school grounds when a friend was caught in a lie. Today, speaking the truth, speaking my truth, is such a part of who I am. However, sometimes I cannot help feeling that honesty is a dirty word and will join my growing list of ‘difficult words,’ which include ‘responsibility’ and ‘surrender’. I often journey with through the labyrinth called life consciously attempting to unravel the mystery of honesty and search for reasons to “Speak your truth even with knees sharing.” Often, very often in fact, I draw strength from works of several persons who over the years have provided me with sustenance:
There are no mistakes, no coincidences. All events are blessings given to us to learn from. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
The individual is capable of both great compassion and great indifference. He has it within his means to nourish the former and outgrow the latter. Norman Cousins
You Will Meet Someone
One of my earliest examples of how to speak your truth to the person who it matters most to – yourself – is a woman who I met between the pages of a book almost 16 years ago. I had never heard of her until a friend, who knew her and who was familiar with my journey introduced us. Meeting this woman, albeit through her writings, was for me, using a phrase that Oprah made commonplace – an “Aha moment.” Actually, it was much more than that. I wept. Hardly surprising, you might say, since the title of one of her earliest books that I read is “Yesterday, I Cried.” My tears, however, were more that of a mother grieving the loss of her only child. They rose from the pit of my belly, busted through my ribs and threatened to choke me. Iyanla Vanzant wrote my story and she guided me along the path of telling my truth. Every challenge, grief, feeling of defeat and hopelessness, every moment of joy and hope she described in her life, I recognized myself within them.
When the tears stopped flowing and my breathing settled to its normal pace, I literally started to write my story for myself. One day I will share with you the full details in one place (or book), not today, because the journey continues. Through Vanzant’s truth telling, however, I was able to start speaking my own. Yes, there were opportunities before and I did try to on occasions, but I was running scared as so many doors had slammed in my face when my truth was revealed.
Growing up in a culture where the primary folk hero was a trickster spider named Anancy, who used any means necessary to have his way, one can understand how easy my retreat to telling tales and hiding my truth became. Bredda’ Anansi, as young and old affectionately call him, came to Jamaica on the boat that brought the first slaves from West Africa. Soon after his arrival, he “went into business as the only therapy for three centuries of hideousness.” Over the years, I saw firsthand how many others would do the same and eventually it became that honesty was not necessarily the best policy. The women with whom I grew up struggled hard to put food on the table, while the men “wild” their time away with many mistresses.
Politicians, both male and female, were not much different. They practiced the craft of trickery to such a degree that the country has been brought to the brink of financial disaster on several occasions – to this day. As I looked to the church for inspiration, as deep inside me I felt that something was missing, a form of truth was preached but not Truth that is unblemished by corruption and self-aggrandizement. With sinking heart, I walked away from the church.
However, grace is a strange thing. Reflecting on my journey thus far, it must have been grace that carried me through high school and later university in the Ukraine. It must have been grace that held me in her arms and brought me through the trauma of a terribly abusive marriage. Surely, it must have been grace that eased the agony and despair I felt when I lost my first child, a son. Most certainly, it was grace that gave me the opportunities to embark on various and varied career paths and develop the relationships and friendships that I did. Yet, despite these achievements and moments of pleasure,back in those days there remained a longing for something more.
I know some of you reading this will think that what I was missing was some good old religion in my life. Frankly, that was not my thought, even when I entered the hall of the Universal Centre of Truth for Better Living and heard that fiery minister “speak the word,” and was touched to the core of my being. If you must know, the Divine was there all along – I just could not say Her name, and that is where Vanzant stepped in. You see Source is Truth and unless you can “speak the truth and speak it ever,” something will always be missing. It goes beyond that – you have to live in the way of Truth, find the sacred in your life and that is even more difficult.
Truth-Telling Is A Daily Task
Since my first reading of Vanzant’s many books, I have had tumultuous years of speaking and living my truth. Doors closed in my face; people turned away from my honesty. Many a times there were when I was very tempted to throw my compassion out the window. There were many opportunities to hide my truth, hide what enliven my soul and play the game of trickery. Those were the times when the pain of truth-telling was so great that it seemed safer to keep my mouth shut.
In those moments, I remind myself of these words from Everyday Tao: Living With Balance and Harmony:
Life hurts. Life is painful. Life is suffering.
There is nothing in life that does not involve trial.
There is nothing worthwhile that doesn’t have a cost.
Yet, we must go on.
So, this I know is true that through the pain and as some doors close such as the one that closed on my last job and the one that I closed on the sender of the disingenuous text message last week, we must all continue to speak our personal truths and stay honest to Truth – cost it what it will. That is how we care for our souls and according to Thomas Moore, if we do so “faithfully, every day, we step out of the way and let our full genius emerge.”
Maybe you have seen her on television or on her social media channels as Iyanla Vanzant is famous now, a celebrity as we like to say. You might however have not read the words from that life-changing poem that helped me to start living boldly. Have a read, and do sign-up and be part of our community, living our lives and speaking our truth today and every day moving forward.
Yesterday, I Cried
By Iyanla Vanzant
Yesterday, I cried.
I came home, went straight to my room, sat on the edge of my bed,
Kicked off my shoes, unhooked my bra,
and I had myself a good cry.
I’m telling you,
I cried until my nose was running all over the silk blouse I got on sale.
I cried until my ears were hot.
I cried until my head was hurting so bad that
I could hardly see the pile of soiled tissues lying on the floor at my feet.
I want you to understand,
I had myself a really good cry yesterday.
Yesterday, I cried,
for all the days that I was too busy, or too tired, or too mad to cry.
I cried for all the days, and all the ways,
and all the times I had dishonoured, disrespected, and disconnected my Self from myself,
only to have it reflected back to me in the ways others did to me,
the same things I had already done to myself.
I cried because there really does come a time when the only thing left
for you to do is cry.
Yesterday, I cried.
I cried because I hurt. I cried because I was hurt.
I cried because hurt has no place to go
except deeper into the pain that caused it in the first place,
and when it gets there, the hurt wakes you up.
I cried because it was too late. I cried because it was time.
I cried because my soul knew that I didn’t know
that my soul knew everything I needed to know.
I cried a soulful cry yesterday, and it felt so good.
It felt so very, very bad.
In the midst of my crying, I felt freedom coming,
Yesterday, I cried
with an agenda.