My daughter is a little older now, and our conversations have deepened from the once shallow waters we once waded. Just recently, we had a heart to heart, woman to young woman. We talked about life, school and men, and somehow it ventured into all three.
As I tried to guide her, I shared some of my story: the ugly parts, the unsure parts and the parts that I thought I had overcome, but I realized that my traumas are still there lingering like the smoke from a cigarette hours after it’s been put out. There’s no fire and no heat, but there’s a smell that has buried itself into the very fabric of my being.
At one point, I started crying, and my 17 year old morphed into a mute counselor at our old, familiar and formal dining table. She just listened as I verbally journaled the pain of being a woman and rattled off the anxiety of being a mother, who wants to prevent her from traveling a trail of tears similar to my own.
It was something about releasing my story and naming demons that day that made me realize that life has certainly done a number on me. But, the fact that I am still here, clothed in sanity is a nothing short of a modern-day miracle.
As women, life throws us scenarios that make us question our value and doubt our self-worth. It tries to make us shrink and reduce the magnitude of our greatness. These scenarios come in different forms, but most of mine came in the form of men who were mere mirages of knights in armor, but were really night with armor. They were violent, abusive and unfaithful, and cast heavy shadows over both my life and my light. I receded into places of submission when I shouldn’t have, and I chose silence in the midst of their violence.
Now that I’m older and wiser, I recognize control and manipulation in any relationship when I see it. They ring alarms in my soul and give me courage to warn others that if gone unchecked, those two things will lead sisters onto deep, dark paths filled with briars and barbed wire that make it difficult (not impossible) to get back onto the main road where there is purpose, and dignity, and light, and life. It’s a path that has trapped women for far too long.
I didn’t want that for myself, but somehow I stumbled into it. But, what I do know is that I don’t want that for my daughter, nor you. Your happiness, your hope, your self-worth, your mental health and the height of success shouldn’t have to be forfeited for the sake of any man. Any.
I wish you all love, peace, prosperity, and, of course, the wisdom and courage to navigate dark paths. I wish you light, and a way out if you are in it, and if you’re not, I’ll pray warning signs that you steer clear.
And, remember. When you have to choose, choose you.