“Just Because The Scar Looks Healed, Doesn’t Mean The Wound Wasn’t Deep.”
Imagine living a life empty of fear. As I enter the last year of my 20’s, I enter it with excitement, nervousness, hope, faith, compassion, embracing patience, and determination. Most importantly however, I am entering this new year of life fearlessly! Too often, there is a monumental moment that encourages us to grow and truly embody our purpose. But what if your moment were moments, and it is the accumulation that provides you with direction?
“No Limits” is a letter I wrote to myself shortly after feeling liberated from the fears I unfortunately allowed to direct me in life for far too long. Fears birthed from countless moments of pain, hurt, neglect, rejection, and the inability to have the courage to choose myself over and over again. Fears that left my body after a most recent panic attack in my car outside of my local gym. This letter is my ode to self as I embark on another year of life, knowing that fear will no longer lead me.
I am choosing to share this letter with you all on my birthday because you deserve it.
“Meaningful growth happens each time we listen to the parts of us we are most scared to give voice to.”
You are enough and you are worthy. I know you didn’t always think this to be true. How could you? Your mother, the one you looked to for protection betrayed you when you were molested by a family member at 15 years of age and she did not believe you. You lied to social workers in order to protect your family instead of you, thus the effects of the sexual abuse worsened as time continued. Seeking to find a home, you turned to high school teachers in an American school system that challenged your Caribbean cultural norms of keeping family dynamics private. Wanting to hold-on to life and not death given your faith in being more than your circumstances, you opened-up to your favorite high-school educator, who later became the father and mother figure you felt deprived of. Unfortunately, he dismissed you in your mid-20s the moment you decided to become the woman he always knew you would be. Your biological father never told you he loved you until you were 20 years old, solely out of desperation for your attention. Ignoring that growing up, his “love” for you were his knuckles slammed into your body and verbal abuse that constantly told you-you were nobody. Attempting to still be loved, you dated a boy who raped you at 23 years of age and destroyed the woman you wanted so hard to be.
“A woman of confidence, strength, courage, and unapologetic resiliency.”
Instead, you caved inward, afraid to ever speak of such reality and continuous pain-silencing yourself in confusion once again for 5 years. Tripping over yourself every time, you tried to be vulnerable with a partner ever since, because you never fully loved the internal and external reflection of you in the mirror.
In efforts to heal from the neglect of your mother, you turned to self-hate and cutting. You didn’t know how to love your mother, which resulted in your inability to love you. Physically and verbally abused by your fathers, you confused pain for love. You never knew how to accept real love from others, especially men because you didn’t receive healthy love from your father. You did everything in your power to make sure that no one saw your hurt, not even you. You hid behind your pain for 19 years and allowed it to be your compass. Seeking for survival mechanisms, staying busy was your best accomplice. But when did you ever take a moment to serve the time for the crime you committed against yourself? Doubting anyone could ever be patient enough to love you, a “damaged goods” woman with a big heart you persisted with a fearful heart. Bernadine, you spent so much time seeking to be accepted by those who caused you pain, you prevented the development of powerful relationships due to your insecurities, and you struggled to love and trust those who only brought you joy. Today is the end of such narrative.
“You never knew you were enough, because you never knew enough could be you.”
Many of your cries for help were answered with conflicting messages wrapped in physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. But here you are today, still standing and fighting to become that woman you always knew you ought to be. So why haven’t you embraced that you have arrived and are her, unapologetically? Believe that you are enough and feel your soul flourish in all the ways you knew you would. Stop trying to control what you can’t. Live in your current destiny. You were always a woman of faith, but somewhere your desire to not feel hate, turned you into a fearful woman in many states. Continue to let go of the fear and allow yourself to truly be.
In this next chapter of your life, trust and hold onto faith. You are the definition of pain to power. Live a life led by faith and strength, not one led by fear. Let go of the people who do not want to truly see you for the person you are and love you in whole. You do not have to fight for love. Love can be challenging at times, but love is not pain that betrays you for believing in it.
Pay attention to those who show you they are there for you and do not be afraid to let them in. I know it is not easy to trust a soul, but you deserve to bask in great company. Believe those who tell you they care without looking for reasons why you can’t trust them. Those truly deserving of your trust understand the privilege associated with earning it and they will do whatever it takes to protect it.
“Those who love you will make mistakes, but they will NEVER deny opportunities to talk about it.”
Recognize that everyone has insecurities. You are not defined by your insecurities, you are defined by the way you act upon them! Thank you for taking the time to understand where your insecurities stem from and working diligently to no longer fall victim to them. Because you are human, you are afraid that the negative encounters you have heard of, witnessed, and experienced in the past will come to life for you in more ways than one in the present and future. Understand, that they may never-so long as you communicate your uncertainties with those who believe in you, those who want you to thrive, and those who love you and themselves.
“Shake hands with your past. Embrace the present with your heat. Look your future in the eyes.”
Patience allows for your dreams to come true and identify the most minute details along the way. I know patience is not your strongest quality. However, you need to place more value on patience in order to fuel your soul daily the way you yearn it. Patience allows your heart and mind to thrive in common ground.
“Be patient with others and be patient with yourself.”
You have great men in your life. I know, you are scared to be vulnerable with them and lean on them because life has not shown you that the men you let in can care for you in the right ways. However, the men in your life are not just your friends, they are your brothers. Teach them about you and learn about them. Speak with the men in your life, not at them. The men you trust most are growing with you, not against you and there is so much more to learn about life with them alongside you.
“You Are Your Brother’s Keeper.”“You Are Your Sister’s Keeper.”
Trust and build with your sisters (known & unknown)—there is enough room for ALL OF YOU at the top. If a Queen’s crown is tilted, fix it WITH her, not for her. Your sisters need to know you are on life’s journey with them. Competition is not a recipe for anything worth consuming and neither is jealousy.
“What is meant to be yours will be yours and theirs will be theirs. Understand the power in fate and believe that everyone can.”“ALWAYS find a reason to SMILE! It’s necessary for your soul and makes life worthwhile!”
It is okay to be cautious about love, but don’t be afraid to fall in love. Before you can love anyone however, you need to always be in love with yourself, especially through struggles and set-backs. You are perfectly imperfect. Contrary to what toxic environments have led you to believe, you can love a spouse in all the healthy ways. It may have taken you longer to be able to do so, but you aren’t broken because of it. You don’t need to justify why you are single to anyone. You also don’t need to accept societal and cultural pressures to date when you know the right person has not shown themselves to you. You know what you deserve. Embrace the twinkle in your eyes for the one who deserves your heart when that time comes. When they show themselves to you, you will know and your imperfections will be perfect for them and theirs will be perfect for you. You are not silly for holding out for real love, one where you see your future in their eyes and they see theirs in yours. Be kind to yourself with regards to love. Your father’s and your mother’s troubling relationship does not dictate your future partnership.
Bernadine, you are MORE than your life’s negative circumstances. STOP hiding behind your hurt and disguising it as strength every time you react irrationally out of fear. It’s time that you dismantle your life based on the hurts of your past. You are the powerful woman of strength that many see, know, respect, and love. NEVER STOP BELIEVING THAT. Impostor syndrome has no room in self-love.
“You cannot be more than the tough cards you were dealt, if you fold at every play.”
I love you Bernadine. It is okay that you do not have everything figured out. There is no need to compare yourself to anybody else and question whether or not you measure up to somebody. The only person you need to measure up to is yourself. You worked hard to get here-follow your passions as an educator. Focus on all of your goals and trust that God never steers his children wrong. Therapy and self-care are heaven on earth.
“No candle will make your wishes come true, the execution is truly up to you.”
Your unborn children, your younger self, and the legacy you are writing today NEED your gift of consistently being present. Your intersectionalities are all part of your life’s blessings.
Continue to build with the world and continue to love you. You are relearning who you are, now that you have decided to live beyond the pain. Continue getting to know yourself again and never let her go. There are NO LIMITS to the things you can do! I didn’t always believe I could be here, but here I am, RE-introduced to myself and loving every single minute of it! It has been a long journey of processing, 21 years to be exact. However, through time, patience, battle scars, broken hearts, redundant conversations, loss and gains of loved ones, beautiful moments, and many crying days & nights, I can happily look in the mirror and say, I love me and mean it.
To all of you who doubt or have ever doubted who you are and your worth because of negative life circumstances, never give up on yourself. The journey to rediscovery may be long, tiring, unpredictable, and feel like you may never arrive; but trust me-you will. Let go of all of the fear that says you can’t and the insecurities that eat away at your processing. Protect your peace and live your life to the fullest by putting in the real work. You will lose people along the way and you will gain new ones. All-in-all, the journey back to you is truly worth it.
“You are enough. You are worth it. You are love.”
In appreciation, gratitude, truth, and warmth,
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