i'm not okay. and that's okay.
i hate being hurt. i know. i mean, who out there among us can say that being hurt is one of their favorite things? shut up, masochists... i'm not talking to or about you! but really. being hurt fucking sucks. so it makes perfect sense that i've spent much of my life avoiding it, in all its glorious forms. playing the lowest of odds, when it came to major life choices. safe jobs. safe (ish) men. a life in bubble wrap, you might say.
and. in case you aren't aware - you can still get pretty banged up from falling close to the ground. still, whenever my parachute failed and my ass hit the ground, i'd proceed to jump up, dust myself off, and deny, deny, deny - straight suze orman style.
because what would everyone think if they knew that yes, my heart actually hurt from that break up? or that having to fire three indigenous mayan mothers didn't exactly make me feel like the good person i believed myself to be? or how 'bout being barely able to walk, but choosing to hobble a around a foreign country for a good two weeks before discovering that my spine was indeed fractured??? god forbid that everyone finds out that i actually hurt myself after being thrown from a galloping horse in the andes mountains, while wearing a backpack containing a laptop and three wine bottles. 'no really guys, i'm fine...'
when the fuck did i develop this tougher than thou persona? the bad bitch unfazed by any and every thing? because even in that aforementioned break up, my then-boyfriend asked 'why couldn't i be human?' in other words - 'you know those are emotions... you might want to try feeling them.' but i didn't... or maybe it's that i couldn't.
maybe it started, like every freaking thing, in my sometimes okay childhood... maybe it was one of those times my mom gave her signature grip and twist pinch over a small infraction, like say, falling asleep in church. suddenly, i'd awaken from dreaming that i wasn't in church to the feeling of sharpened talons puncturing my flesh, along with my soul, while she relayed through clinched teeth - 'you bet'not cry.' what!? not cry? bitch, that shit hurt! but, umm... i grew up with a black mom,* so i knew better than to even think of saying some shit like that to her. especially since i'm also not a fan of bathroom beatdowns. they fucking hurt worse. and are often accompanied by the same instruction. or so i've heard. still. i learned to turn it off. whatever and whenever 'it' was.
but. wait. when i think about it, that wasn't the only place i learned it was not okay to feel. i happened to be a bit of what some might call a cry-baby - which they did! i cried for everything. anything. shoo, when my mom would ask me if i wanted something to cry about, i'd be like, 'nah. i got this' - somewhere deep inside the recesses of my heart. never out loud. remember. a black mom. anyhoo. siblings, cousins, random family members thrice removed couldn't stand my lil' crying ass. and the kids at school. oof! showed no mercy on ya girl. taunts of 'cry-baby, cry-baby, suck your momma's titties.' yes. they said that. to me!
so i stopped. i'd grown tired of being teased and harassed for actually responding to shit that hurt. which left me with no other option than to not hurt. to be less sensitive. or so i thought. i transformed my hurt into anger, which became good ol' rage. took to verbally abusing folks who 'made me' angry. the good news is, people stopped picking on me. the bad news is, i became quite the terror to be around. and all confused inside about what i was feeling. even physically.
so it makes perfect sense that as an adult, i wandered the streets of argentina, trying to convince myself that my back didn't hurt (that bad). and that the click in my spine would go away with a bit of yoga (at some point). deny. deny. deny. for two fucking weeks! even after a massage therapist damned near threw me off his table in the direction of the nearest er. which i had to be tricked into actually visiting...
it wasn't until i landed in san marcos la laguna, an idyllic mayan village dotting the shore of lake atitlan in the guatemalan highlands, that i was forced to fully feel what i was, well, feeling. and it involved the firing of three indigenous women from an ngo i temporarily managed. as it would in such a small village (3,500 people), the firings caused an uproar on all sides. i found myself under attack from people i'd befriended ('you let them steal on your watch!'), to the local community, who i'd helped ('you're wrong for firing them!'). i felt so alone. so betrayed. so angered. by the women. by the town. by life.
and instead of admitting that i'd been hurt by the entire ordeal, i reverted to an older version of myself. went straight raging in a town that i'm not sure had seen too many black women and i can guarantee - never an angry one. but. they did that day. as i attempted to fist fight a seventy year old man, i realized i'd gone too far. yup. i did that. i will say that he started it. and. i could have totally taken him. still. my response was like myself - not okay.
the very next morning, mis hermanas del alma assembled for our weekly red tent sisterhood gathering. despite feeling fine before leaving my house, en route, i damned near broke down. everything started hurting. my stomach burned. head pounded. joints. feet. hurt. by the time i'd reached the porch, i could barely walk. i thought i'd made a huge mistake in coming. but my sisters held me down. they rubbed oil on my feet, my hands, my forehead. enveloped me in a blanket of love and invited me to share what i was feeling. oh. that...
all it took was for me to admit is that it wasn't anger. it wasn't rage. it was hurt. fucking hurt that people i'd supported and worked my ass off for months on a voluntary basis had stolen from me and the community. hurt that i'd not stopped it sooner when i first suspected it. hurt that i had to let them go, knowing what the loss of income meant to their families... the moment i was able to look at my sisters and admit that 'yes, i am hurting!', the physical pain stopped. no bullshit. all of it. stopped. just like that.
mind you. that was a few years back. lots of healing and releasing has happened in the interim. but that moment helped me to release the fear and shame of admitting that/when i am hurting. and. thanks to that moment, i've become less afraid and less concerned with what others will think if... allowing me to, at a minimum, tell myself the truth. like in my current predicament - breaking my wrist while roller skating...
upon falling, i admit that i went old-school 'it's all good rachel.' even went around the rink a few more times before hanging up the skates, mentioning to my fellow skaters that my wrist was hurting a bit and that was that. but. two days post-fall, i could no longer pretend that my injury wasn't a bit more concerning than i'd wanted anyone to know (the embarrassment of falling and being hurt!? noooo!!!). so maybe, i bet'cry and tell someone that 'yes, i am in pain.' because i was! so i did. save the whole crying thing. momma might be lurking... i digress.
but. i admitted that it hurt. the unbreakable rachel m. walls was officially broken. and in need of emergent care. which i received. along with a splint and instructions for the next four to six weeks of my life. joy! and. as much as it pained me to ask for help in resolving what ailed me, i'm glad that i did. because i wasn't okay. but it was...
*if you didn't grow up with one, you will not understand. but. backtalk - nah. not acceptable. ever. for any reason. not even a sideways glance to indicate that you might be back-thinking! you just don't do that to a black mom. especially if you're into the whole living, chewing with actual teeth, and/or sitting down comfortably thing. hell. i'm probably not safe in this moment... and i'm 40! so i'ma just go ahead and pick my switch. y'all know. before all the good medium-skinny ones are gone.