“My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you. But for every real word spoken, for every attempt I had ever made to speak those truths for which I am still seeking, I had made contact with other women while we examined the words to fit a world in which we all believed, bridging our differences.”
― Audre Lorde
Since I was a little girl, I have always been misunderstood. I have always felt stories within me. I have felt and experienced much pain, abuse, mistreatment, and disappointment. I have felt and experienced much depression and anxiety. I have had dreams for the woman I wanted to become. I have had visions for the future I saw for myself. How can a young girl express herself in a world that robs young black girls of the freedom of self-expression? As a young black girl my silence was always expected, despite any experiences I have faced. Or many dreams I wanted to fulfill for myself. Anything outside of that is “rebellion” and resisted against. Yet, it never freed me or the wounded spirit inside of me. It never protected me or made me feel safe and secure.
How can I pour it out? How can I pour out the stories within my soul? How can I find the peace of mind that I desired, when it wanders daily? When I was a child, I often found myself greatly misunderstood. When you aren’t given many opportunities to speak, how can you speak for yourself? You are forced to hold it in, but after a while it slowly destroys you from the inside out. It can drive you crazy and rob you of the freedom you deserve.
How could I heal myself, if I couldn’t express myself freely? I just wanted to be free.
I found my freedom. My freedom wasn’t found in my education. My freedom wasn’t found in my career. My freedom wasn’t found in my family. My freedom wasn’t found in my friends. My freedom wasn’t found in a lover. My freedom was found in a pen and sheets of paper. The thoughts I couldn’t speak or act upon, I drew it or written it. My art was my lifesaver. It gave me the freedom to express myself without judgement, control, or persuasion. It gave me the freedom to tell my stories when I couldn’t find the right words to say or when my actions were misunderstood. It gave me the power to pour out the pain, happiness, rage, beauty, and energy that I held deep inside of me. It gave me the power over those whose misconception spoke for me, more than my own truth. I wanted to tell my own story. Her Story.
In the years as I got older I realized I wasn’t the only one who felt this way. I realized many black women such as myself had the same stories and experiences. They were my mirror and I was theirs. Their experiences were similar to my experiences. I wanted to share my story, and hopefully those who can relate will be able to find that they are not alone. Like I have always felt alone. Like I have always felt misunderstood, and misjudged. How could anyone not see my pain? How can they not feel my pain? How could they understand me, and open the space for a genuine connection? I wrote about it, and used my writing to free my mind. As an adult you lose this sense of freedom. You find that life doesn’t become about experiencing, but about obligation. I dedicated myself to my career, to my family, to my friends, to lovers, and to a lifestyle I created for myself. What was lost along the way was my dreams, and the passion inside of me to drive me forward. The things that kept me happy, and kept my mind at peace. I wanted to find my peace of mind and happiness again.
As experience teaches us, how do we learn and grow? After many years of experiences, I have learned, but I didn’t grow or evolve. I didn’t grow, because I held it in as I was expected to. The world around me discourages freedom of expression from women and girls, and I had difficulty expanding myself within it. I had to find my happiness again, so I could find my peace of mind. I remembered the tools I used as a little girl that maintained my happiness in the midst of my pain. The tools I used to help me continue on each day with smiles, joy, and laughter. I was a writer, a singer, a dancer, and I drew. I was an artist. After years of experiences, I learned and grew from them, but I struggled to maintain my happiness. I struggled to find my peace of mind. I realized that I needed to find the beauty in my own art again. Until I find the beauty in my own art, share the growth in my own experiences, and share the deepest passion within me, I wont find the freedom I desire. After years of denying myself of this part of me, I just wanna write.
“I write for those women who do not speak, for those who do not have a voice because they were so terrified, because we are taught to respect fear more than ourselves. We’ve been taught that silence would save us, but it won’t”
– Audre Lorde