Lately the word “paradox” has been following me around, trying to make me understand it without success. One of the Merriam-Webster definitions of a paradox is “one (such as a person, situation or action) having seemingly contradictory qualities or phases.” When I sat down to write this I realized Jerri is a paradox. The most composed, pleasant, polite, and organized person described a life filled with trauma, disorder and disease. When we first began talking about collaborating she laughed and said, “Do you have a limit on challenges?”
She has taken blow after blow and transmuted each one into a new facet of a beautiful life. When she decided to take the leap with me, in a long-distance way, I asked her to have someone close to her take a video of her in a place she loves. She said it would definitely be in nature. She sent a short video in which she looks around (unsure), up to her left (resolute), up to the sky (inspired), and then glances almost behind her and smiles. I told her she looked like she was looking back at her younger self and saying, “I got this.”
I Know Who I Am
I am more than an adult child of incest who grew up as a secret, shrouded in shame.
I am more than a little girl forced to hide in the floorboard of a car so no one would see the bastard child.
I am more than a 5-year-old daughter of a Black rabbi who made her stay up late at night learning the Hebrew language and spiritual songs. The child who stood atop a ladder in 1968 on the street corners of Times Square in Manhattan singing, speaking, and drawing crowds for her father’s preaching extravaganza.
I am more than a frantic, compulsive 15-year-old who ran away from home when she discovered the family secret; her sister was her mother, and her father was also her step-grandfather.
I am more than a teenager viciously raped and impregnated by a man she didn’t know.
I am more than a young woman lying on a cold metal table weeping for forgiveness after aborting her unborn child.
I am more than a nurse who meticulously cared for the sick and vulnerable for over thirty years, yet self-care was a foreign word.
I am more than a woman diagnosed with breast cancer who, at the age of 47, had blasts of radiation and multiple surgeries for a ravenous disease.
I am more than a woman whose chest is now bare, stripped of the feminine vessel that once nourished her newborn daughter.
I am more than a woman whose depression, anxiety, and PTSD became her dictators, torturing her without mercy.
I am more than a woman who befriended alcohol and benzodiazepines, her only solace in silencing the constant torment in her mind.
I am more than the lost soul who overdosed, almost hushing a life never truly lived yet revived by her pup, the bearer of unconditional love.
I Know Who I Am
I Am a woman who has been sober for many years through a 12-Step Recovery Program.
I Am a woman who now practices radical self-care.
I Am a woman who now loves and accepts every aspect of myself yet knows it’s a continuous process.
I Am a woman who embraces my own mental health and advocates for others.
I Am a woman, a creative, who Writes to Heal.
I Am a woman breaking the generational cycle of trauma, bondage that once polluted my family lineage. Untruths that were embedded in our DNA purged and cleared for my children, grandchildren, and beyond.
I’ve learned that True Freedom is forgiveness, understanding that we, as humans, are not perfect. It’s knowing and accepting that people are doing the best they can with what has been passed on to them mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally.
True Freedom is knowing and accepting the bigger plan for my life. It’s being grateful for my experiences and allowing my tribulations to become my treasures.
True Freedom is being my authentic self, willing to share my story in complete transparency with the intention that it may help another on their healing journey.
True Freedom is knowing that everyone has a unique and divine purpose to fulfill in this life.
True Freedom is accepting mine and knowing I AM MORE!
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