I have never lived like you and you have never loved like me. That is evident by the way you look at me. Begrudgingly, as if I am some object not capable of experiencing pain. Your attempts to disembowel me ultimately exposed your dirty secrets. Excrement. Your substance. Rather lack thereof. Triggers that you have not learned to control. If another woman’s story inspires you to spit venom, Then you are not the holier than thou that you portray to be. Nobody anointed you. The crown you wear upon your head is one you placed there yourself. Foolish. Me for owning up to my mistakes, Or you for pretending you have never made any. I am not above my transgressions. I have stared them down. Laid down with them on a bed of thorns and still managed to get up the next day, as if my back were not covered in lacerations. I smiled through my anguish. So much agony And affliction. Sometimes self-inflicted. But still I chose to love. Relentlessly, and recklessly. Your lack of compassion speaks volumes. It lets me know that you are heartless. That you lack longevity. You have never gone the distance. Only to return, Unfulfilled. And still have the power To transcend. Rise above. Control your own vibration. I can sift through my pain and find beautiful pieces. I see the light in every lie I believed and bow down prostate, Before every lesson I have learned. Do not judge me for the life I have lived. Gauge my flaws With the same veracity as your own. No woman is almighty. And your pronouncement of perfection, By the way you hold court in my calamity. Is a constant reminder, To beware of false prophets.
Words have power. This is something I have always known, but it was not until recently that I saw the significance of how powerful my words could be. I have always considered myself a writer, but it was not until 2018, that I felt comfortable enough in my skin to actually share my words with the world. I published a collection of poetry that was so personal to me and my life experiences that I deemed it my self-care. Those poems were my literary alchemy. Incantation, rather, spell work that played a magical role in releasing so much stagnant energy from my spirit. It transformed me, completely. Those words told my story up until the point where I released it all from my being. I wrote those twenty-something pieces and let them go because they no longer belonged to me. They were no longer meant for me.
Fast forward almost two years later and I feel that I have made strides not only in my personal growth but also my confidence in my writing and story-telling. I participated in a 5-week course entitled “The Words Between Us” which was sponsored by the NY Writers Coalition. Our group consisted of black women from all over the country who met for two hours every Wednesday night to write together. Each week our group explored different topics in a safe space ranging from childhood to afro-futurism to religion/horror. We would read excerpts from famous women writers and use those as the basis for our discussion and then wrote pieces that we would share with the group. For those five weeks we cultivated a community where we were not judged for our interpretations of those various topics. We acknowledged that although we may all have been black women, our life experiences varied and were unique to us all. Despite those differences we still were able to form a bond and provide positive feedback even if the stories shared did not resonate with our own. This group reignited my confidence in my writing, so much so that I decided to share a piece I had written during a virtual open mic night hosted by the organization.
Between my preparing for that open mic and another workshop I was facilitating the following night with The Woman’s Earth, something told me to pull up my book online. I am not sure what my motivation was but needless to say I noticed that someone had left a new review. This review was left by someone I met in passing, another author at a black book fair, that I exchanged books with. I do not remember much about our interaction, but I do recall that she was a motivational speaker/holistic healer that I spoke briefly with in 2019. She provided me with a very colorful review where she not only called my work pitiful, but stated that it lowered her energetic antenna and should be avoided unless you were “miserable” and seeking company. I must admit, I was initially taken about by the words she wrote. I had never been so harshly criticized by someone for my work, outside of adversaries in legal proceedings airing their grievances over losing a case, but especially not something that spoke to my personal life and experiences. I wanted to respond immediately and it took several conversations with self before I even discussed the matter with the people closest to me. Everyone agreed that I should not respond unless I was merely saying a thank you for leaving the review. Opinions varied. A lot of people felt that it was a generational thing, where the reviewer just was out of touch with the subject matter. Others felt that it was written to bring attention to the reviewer and her work. Some even went so far as to say that it read as judgmental or condescending, and that the comparisons left were akin to someone condemning Maya Angelou for sharing some of her earlier experiences before she became the version of herself than of the legacy she left with us. The not so pretty parts of her life that ultimately led to finding peace within herself. The stories that developed her character and tested her tenacity. The grimy parts…
We all have the dirty and difficult parts of our lives. The ones that we usually do not have the courage to share with the world. Especially not without being compelled to do so… Sharing those fragile moments takes courage. I was told that part of being an artist was accepting the fact that my work would not be for everyone. I would need to toughen my skin to accept criticism and learn to gravitate towards those who appreciate my art as much as I do. I understand that. I have come to terms with accepting that. I have also come to accept that my words are powerful. My words have the power to change the trajectory of ones day. They have the power to provide comfort and company to those who are enduring misery. My words have the power to empower or make one feel the weight of what I went through. My words carry the strength to make an impact.
My words have made an impact. The decision to see the good or bad in my words is up to the reader. But regardless of what end of the spectrum their opinion falls in, my words have deeply impacted them. That reviewer was impacted. Despite her choice of words in her review, she was impacted by every single word I wrote. She felt the weight of my story, and even admits that it affected her deeply. Granted others who read my words interpreted the emotions they felt differently, most came from a place of understanding or were left reflecting on a time in their life where they had to overcome their own struggle. That was my intent, and my purpose was served. But one thing I can leave from this experience is the veracity of my words. My words have the power to move mountains. There is strength in every word I have ever written, and I will never take that power for granted. So instead of taking the criticism the wrong way, I will accept it and acknowledge the volumes it speaks to my writing and my abilities. My words are powerful, and I will continue to use them to tell my story.
For those of you who have just recently stumbled across my blog, I sincerely welcome you and wanted to share this message with you. Your words have power. Never let anyone take that away from you. Your stories are your truth. Your truth is your power.