The popular belief these days is to simply embrace your true self. To stop denying who you really are, whatever that looks like- and in the process, only surround yourself with people who affirm it.
Well, I don’t think anyone would want to be around me if I did that.
In sifting through my Evernote folders, I came across a poem I wrote sometime earlier this year. From the looks of it, I was having a really rough day. It must have been the day I saw Sia’s music video for her song Elastic Heart, which would explain the reference in the first part of the poem. I feel somewhat embarrassed for saying this, especially in light of Shia Labeouf’s latest viral explosion (you know, the one where he yells “JUST DO IT” a bunch of times?)… but that music video ripped me open. I remember feeling overwhelmed when it was done, as it left me with tears spilled down my face and bewildered by my reaction. Abram wasn’t home for whatever reason, which thankfully allowed me to deal slowly with whatever was trying to come out over the course of the afternoon. Not that I can’t deal with stuff in front of my son- I often do, for both of our sakes. But sometimes, children don’t afford you the courtesy for long, afternoon bouts of self analyzation.
It all came out in this poem called Bloodline. I’m a little scared to let you see this, as I usually am when I share this side of my writing. But as I came across it, I felt compelled to share, perhaps in thinking on the world and culture we live in. I know I’ve kept it pretty light over the last several weeks, so I’m sorry for jumping from silly pictures of college cafeteria life to this. I only wrote half of it that day, and the other half a few days ago when I decided that it wasn’t finished. The second half is in bold.
I know I’ve come out a bit different
But I’ve still got the same blood running through my veins
Which is why I know most of my bad thoughts aren’t whispers from the devil
But darkness inside of my own DNA
Maybe the reason that caged dance
Is because I’ve been at war with myself since
The day I was made
And try as I might to allow the clean blood to take over
Some days I can’t help but be stuck in the reign.
The reign of family history.
History flowing deep inside of me.
I can feel it trying to slowly blot me out
Like the moon eclipses the sun.
Curses aren’t just incantations in fables
But as real as unmarked tombstones
They are forever like the lines on the palms of my hand
Sins that are buried with bones.
I feel the serpent creep slowly, subtly inching towards my brain
Wanting to sink into the right lobe and then the left
Start wars that are only fought in vain…
My answer is no, even though parts of me want to give in.
It fights to take over, it wants every inch of my inside
But curses can end, for so long they can only try
To consume a child, and sometimes they win
But if I fight back…
If I fight back against what was started within…
Then maybe. Maybe the Reign of Family History will finally, and with great anticipation and with triumphant celebration and with blood-marked justification…
Come. To an end.
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus
Sweetest name I know…
I do know You
But You’ve known me far before the star stuff exploded
You’ve known about my bloodline
You were inside of my history
You wept when our children wept
Because of the things that were stolen
Your righteousness burned with white flames
As you watched father’s sins birth more sin
There are things you’ve allowed to happen
And my heart still asks the why questions
You knew me.
You knew I was coming.
And you decided to put a fight in me.
I’m not special.
The divide created from the moment Eve decided to try and take your place
was in my heart when it started beating.
So this fight, this freedom uprising
I cannot take credit.
I know in my blood the foul potential
And all I’ve got as weapons are truth and grace.
Grace… greater than ALL of my sin
You knew me, You know me, You know where I’m headed…
Ya’ll… I KNOW you remember this song. I’m sure some of you hate it as much as some of you love it and feel all 2005 when you hear it.
I have a necessary relationship with “Bad Day” by Daniel Powter.
2005-2006 was pretty rough for this chick. While 2005 was the year I graduated high school (which to this day was one of the most relieving and liberating days of my life), I also went through some rough transitions. Earlier in that year I was broken up with, which just SUCKED SO BAD at the time. It was the worst! And thinking about it now, I feel silly even bringing it up. But at the time, it was so devastating to me. (You can read all about it in my LiveJournal…. if you can find it).
So “Bad Day” along with Kelly Clarkson’s “Since You’ve Been Gone” got me through most of that. Oh, and Jesus… I guess. Or maybe it’s better put that Jesus allowed those songs to keep me going, since I really wasn’t going to surrender anything to him, even though I claimed that I was a Christian.
I also did a semester at FIU, which I was not excited about at all. So, 2005 was weird, but kind of normal life. Then 2006 happened. I can look back at 2006 and pinpoint what may have been the beginning of the #RealLife Sanctification process.
My family started falling apart at the seams. It was one of those things I think I always knew was going to happen, and it was like a waiting game to see when the shit would finally hit the fan.
It hit, and the fan flung suffering all over us.
An argument turned into chaos on the front yard which pushed me to slam pictures on the terrazzo tile inside because I couldn’t contain my sorrow and rage anymore. My sister disappearing into the dark night as my brother cried in the garage while begging me not to go stay at Jessica’s house.
(It is really hard for me to share those last two sentences, because it forces me to relive them. I’m still forgiving myself for leaving my little brother in that hell).
The rest of that year is still one of the most painful years I’ve ever known (although the past 6 months are really trying to top that). The chaos only kept on coming, to the point where my mom and I never knew if everyone was going to be alive by the next day. People at church treated me and my sister like outsiders. My life was literally falling apart and all I got was a lot of religious platitudes.
(Disclaimer: if we went to church together during this time, please don’t hear that as a condemnation on you or our Church. I was just as guilty of doing to others what ended up happening a little bit to me, so there is no judgement coming from me. We’re all sinners in need of grace).
For the sake of everyone’s dignity, I won’t share much more details of that year. But this song… this song stuck with me. Back when Motorola flip phones were cool, “Bad Day” was my ringtone for everyone. I just wanted to hear it anytime, all the time.
One of the only redeeming moments of 2006 was when I had to spend the day in Downtown Miami to 1) go to court over a parking ticket and 2) visit my dad in a psychiatric ward. So pretty much the two worst things ever. After court, I had time to kill, so I took the Metro Rail to Dadeland mall, and let someone put makeup on me in Macy’s. I don’t even know why I did that, but it made me feel better. I got back on the Metro Rail to go to the hospital, and my phone kept ringing…
Cause you had a bad day You’re taking one down You sing a sad song just to turn it around You say you don’t know You tell me don’t lie You work at a smile and you go for a ride You had a bad day The camera don’t lie You’re coming back down and you really don’t mind You had a bad day You had a bad day
I didn’t answer it. I wanted to keep hearing the song. In that moment, listening to “Bad Day” on the Metro Rail with my face fresh with makeup and strangers all around me, I felt like I was going to make it to 2007. I even started giggling, and said, “how bout you’ve had a bad year,” and giggled some more.
So, it’s 2014, and I’m still alive!
Maybe one day, ya’ll can convince me to talk about my closet ZAO obsession in 10th grade.