Let’s rewind to about…two weeks ago…I’m on Thanksgiving Break spending the week in South Jersey with my family (I think Trenton is Central Jersey, but it’s debatable). I’ve just finished my third month of being a full time teacher and goodness knows I could use this break. As we (teachers) clocked out and say our good byes and engaged in small talk about what we had planned for the holiday to which we all agreed on “sleep” being the highlight, we set out…going our separate ways, closing the doors to our classrooms and checking out mentally.

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Yes! I thought to a mental break…a break away from teaching AND being a grad students. On Thanksgiving Break, I didn’t eat myself into multiple food comas, in fact, I barely ate (I had a Mexican food craving rather than Thanksgiving food..so what…fight me if you don’t like it) because I barely got up from my cozy bed at my parent’s house. I turned off work emails, but not my personal email account because you know…sometimes in the midst of all the junk mail, I actually find some cool shit in there somewhere. WHAT WASN’T COOL however was an email that I had gotten from an ex. YUP, you read that right…this year makes THREE years since we’d gone our separate ways so WHY IN THE NAME OF THE GOOD LORD WAS HE SENDING ME AN EMAIL?!?!?!?!? In summary, it was an email “seeking atonement” for his wrongdoing and telling me how proud he is of the woman I’ve become…and for a second, the old Dej that would’ve replied back in anger with some snappy and petty comments ALMOST surfaced, but then I realized how much I didn’t need that apology. The past three years in his absence have been about me reclaiming myself and my identity. It was about examining those six years and reflecting on the person I WAS when I was there, what I liked about myself when I was with him and what I didn’t like and during those reflections I realized that the things I didn’t like about myself when I was with him heavily outweighed the things that I did like about myself.

So I kindly responded telling him not to contact me again (I mean if I changed my number and blocked you on social media sites, why did you think email was the next best route?) and added his email to block sender with the help of several tweets and emails to the person behind the Google gmail social media account (I’m tech savvy, but sometimes I have a slow moment..sue me).

Point of the story is there is a purpose behind every. single. thing. that. happens. to. you. in. this. life. GOT THAT?! Every. single. thing. It’s an opportunity for you to RECLAIM YOURSELF!!! Even when you’ve fallen off, just experienced a horrible break up, got laid off from a job, or found yourself deep in the muddy swamps of unemployment…it’s an opportunity for you to rise from the ashes like a Phoenix (channeling my inner Dumbledore) and that’s exactly what the hell I did and you betta ZOO IT TOO BOO BOO.

xoxo

I’ve always been a fan of Rupi Kaur since “Milk and Honey,” but I had only seen clips here and there of her work. I immediately appreciated her vulnerability and transparency. It’s something that I too, strive for in my writings. So I allowed myself quiet time this past weekend to treat myself to brunch, and splurges on some books and decided to add “Milk and Honey” to my library to be read in it’s entirety. A week later, through tear-stained eyes, I’ve finally finished her first chapter, “The Hurting.” I found myself having to put it down often, not being able to fully digest her words as they were triggering to my own life. 41 pages. 2 years. 

An empath, failing at ignoring the amount of empathy her words caused me. I could feel and hear and see the hurt seeping through the pages of that chapter. I could see the beginning of healing, the letting go of pain and the nasty scars left behind. I thought about my own hurting. How I never spoke of that period in my life. How it became a repressed and almost mythical event in my life. I never thought about it, therefore it never happened. I never shared about it, therefore it never happened. It never happened. 

I thought about that period in the young and innocent lives of two nine year old girls and how one closed up so tight that she became shut off, mute, and ashamed. I thought about how the other opened up so wide until she busted into a million pieces sprinkling bits of herself asking to be made whole again. Wanting to be made whole again, but never finding the glue that stuck around long enough for her pieces to dry.

I thought about how “it wasn’t our fault,” but why did I still feel guilty all those years ago? I thought about the terror and the vulnerability I felt when being left alone for even a second with the monster from the neighborhood. I thought about all those times those two nine year old girls would scramble to get away from the monster who rode in the backseat with us on the way home from school.

A 17 year old boy from the neighborhood experimenting with his own sexual curiosities, I thought about those two nine year old girls who fell victim as his test dummies. I thought about how for the first time in my innocent life I became aware of parts of myself that were attached to myself.

I thought about that day being pulled into my mother’s room and being questioned about the monster who’d latched on to my family. Sharing family dinners with us, hanging on my family’s house stoop, chilling just because. He was my cousin’s best friend.

I thought about years later, riding the city bus home from high school seeing his face standing on the street corner in front of the bodega and feeling a heavy ball of disgust brewing in the pit of my stomach and his audacity to even say hi to me as if we cool peoples.

I read those chapters of Kaur and thought about all of these things and realized it was the first time I had thought of these things since I was one of those nine year old girls on the cusp of my tenth year.

Some days I wonder had this affected me in any way in my now adult years. Is this the reason I have a hard time committing? Am I non-committal? Am I too picky? Why do I get bored easily? Why do I often find myself extremely underwhelmed by men? I mean, I’m not interested in women, but I’m extremely cautious with men. 

Now in the later half of my twenties, I find myself thinking about these things often. I think about my desire to establish roots, build and create a family of my own and I see how easy it comes for some, but it’s such a difficult process for me because no one seems to add up.

Are the affects of my silent hurting and repression subconscious?

Disclaimer: In no way is this post a means to throw shade, but I get asked often if I’m still freelancing for certain media sites and my answer is NO. I’m just putting it out there for inquiring minds before I get started. 

Monday mornings, 3-5 pitches a week, research, deadlines, and pay per work contracts were a normal part of my daily routine as a freelancer. I would have to brainstorm 3-5 pitches each Monday to send to my editor for approval. There were days when my “word well” ran dry and I found myself surfing the web and other media sites targeted to my audience to see what was popular or trending. I would even use personal experiences and encounters as the basis for many of my articles.

There are several perks to freelancing should you decide to make a living out of it, but there’s also a high level of discomfort and unrest when trying to make it your sole means of income. First, the perks…you in a way work for yourself. You create your pitches and sometimes when you find yourself stump on ideas, they’ll provide some for you. You can freelance from anywhere in the world as long as there’s internet access.

On the downside, however, you are working for someone else when it comes to getting paid, although you can freelance from anywhere in the world as long as there’s internet access, you can’t really afford to be anywhere in the world other than home or local because you just don’t get paid enough with these pay-per-work contracts. Worst of all, you don’t get paid when you’re supposed to.

Whenever you sign a freelance contract, there are pay dates. Some freelancers get partial payment if it’s a one time project and will get the rest at the completion of the project. Some freelancers get paid bi-weekly just as a regular employee and then some get paid an accumulated sum of money for the work they’ve done for the month. Finances are unpredictable. You save, but then an unexpected bill surfaces, or you have to tap into emergency funds or you’re expected to get paid on a certain date per your contract, but when it doesn’t happen it messes up your entire flow. I found myself there all the time. Pushing deadlines, trying to keep my content creative and original, late nights because I can’t seem to get what’s in my head onto the computer screen only to be told that my payment will be late without even knowledge of when I can expect it by. So I’ve found myself in the red with so many bills, things getting cut off, subscriptions being cancelled, not being able to pay for things because I couldn’t get paid. We’re halfway into October and I’m just receiving payments from July. I haven’t even gotten August’s payment and I have no idea when I will.

So my logic is…you want your work on time? Pay me on time? Other wise I can do this s**t for myself.

What am I doing now?

My own s**t. I’m resurrecting this blog site after a two month hiatus. I’m editor in chief of Black Girl Magik where I’m managing writers and contributors. I’m also editing a teen fiction manuscript. At the end of the day, you can’t make people appreciate your work and your time, but you can do that for yourself.

xoxo