Graves disease, grave as it sounds, is not deadly. Yet, every symptom gives that close-to-death feeling. I was diagnosed some day in July. I must have said "I'm dying" 10,000 times this summer. Weight loss was the hardest symptom to bare with. My voluptuous curves, that made a brother (or a sister) look twice, was fading fast. I felt lighter. I shed all the bad weight but I shed some good too. Daunted by my deteriorating appearance, I felt broken. I didn't party, barely worked, couldn't love, and broke down every chance I got.
My boyfriend would jokingly say, "If anyone ever asks what my girlfriend does, I'm telling them you're an astronaut." My mind spaced out often, especially while talking to him. Even when he came to meet my family, most of our conversations and encounters happened while I was in a daze. In one trance, I saw myself rising from a sea of white cloth. A purple sky exuding purple rain mysteriously did not stain the white. Eventually, I would come back to my senses waiting, impatiently to return to that peaceful place.
I felt so lonely.
While driving with my family one day, my parents were laughing and singing Lagosian sayings. I felt myself sinking in and out of happy. I wanted to enter the vortex of their joy. Instead, I waited for someone or something to let me in. Later I would realize that every door to my joy was unlocked, all I had to do was turn the knob.
With all my personal struggles and now my health in danger, nothing has troubled me more than the racial issues going on in America. I see it now on their faces, all variations of shades of black, beautifully and wonderfully made. I, am one of them. I am a natural black girl weary of sulfate shampoos and creamy crack. I don't eat pork. I don't wear makeup. My locs are thick and healthy, in fact, they glow in sunlight. Thank Black Jesus for melanin. Yet, I wake up day after day feeling displaced, worried, and doubtful of the future, near and far. Am I truly good enough? Am I beautiful? Am I smart or innovative or analytical? Do I have a nice voice? Will they like me? Am I too dark? Do I match his fly? Despite my participation in this revolutionary era of being unapologetically black, very black, black and proud, black and beautiful, I still struggled with accepting, expressing, and boldly defending my blackness. In the words of Ntozake Shange, "Being colored is a metaphysical dilemma I have not conquered yet".
At the Spirit of the Creative Retreat, I burned my obstacle in a blazing fire. It was an activity for a workshop being led by photovangelist Saddi Khali. The paper I burned read "I can't." The liquid of my eyes glistened when I stared at the fire. I did not give in to cry as I was being doused with sage and I threw the "i can't" into the burning wood. My doubts, worries, and low self-esteem were burning in hell. I've carried the residual pain of my ancestors far too long. "There's something sexy about a woman who lives an 'I Can' life," Khali later told me.
This summer I was living on the verge of insanity, battling myself with every emotion on the spectrum. I lost myself by wandering my innermost thoughts, vacationing there for weeks and abandoning reality. Nonetheless, feelings of displacement, worrying, doubtfulness, and self-hate lied within my urge and passion to be great.
The eye in my storm is not visible from here, however, I know how to reach the calm of my world. It is imperative that I love myself. I must feed the right beast. I must be mindful. I need to hold on to nothing, accept for that which will empower me. I cannot allow my circumstances to encapsulate my creative being. My life depends on consulting with the power source everyday.
This summer was nothing but another day in the eyes of God. I understand that now. To know that is a burden too.
Dear summer, I bid you adieu.