By Peace. Photography by Deun Ivory.
My entire support group is made up of black people. This is something I am boastful about, for I wouldn’t be alive if not for the strength they lend me when I have ran out of my own. They fuel me, and that allows me to fuel myself and other black girls and women.
About a year ago, I was at my lowest point due to a number of tragic personal events; my emotional state was not just fragile, but fractured, breaking more and more with each day that I had to live in my reality. I did a lot of drugs, spending most of my time high on something so as to not think about the fact that I really didn’t want to live. I was stuck in a vicious state of victimhood and pain. I had two close girlfriends who I (barely) confided in about my personal life. On one end, I was ashamed of my mentality and where I was in my life. On the other, I didn’t want to dump my burdens onto my friends who as black women themselves, have to deal with the tropes of navigating life as a black woman. I loved them too much to do that.
It wasn’t until I completely broke down to my then-friend Candy about everything, that things started to shift. I cried uncontrollably, and she held me; offering words of soothing kindness, but not without the tough love that I needed to make a change in my life. In knowing about my overindulgence in drugs, she told me, “I love you too much to see you treat yourself and your life like this. If you don’t get help and go to therapy I can’t be friends with you. It would hurt me too much.” As hard as that was to hear, her clear tone of love let me know it was just as, if not harder, for her to say. I was faced with a choice: continue to wallow and exist in this space of self pity (as justified as it may have been) or get the help to live and maybe even thrive through my situation. My friendship with Candy meant way too much to me at the time, and despite how reluctant I was due to past trauma in therapy, I decided to find a therapist. Not only did Candy help me see and exercise the control I had in finding a therapist that I was comfortable with, she held me accountable every step of the way.
And just as I type this, my Co-Star sends me a notification: It’s time to stop talking about how you’d like to get well and just start.
That is basically what my friend was telling me; it was the greatest expression of her worth for her and myself. She wanted me to get better and was willing to help me find the help I needed to do that, which made all the difference. She knew the time was now and so did I, yet I was a little resistant at first and didn’t take it as seriously as I should have, especially considering I was paying out of pocket. It was hard to pull myself up out of the state of victimhood and shame. It's an addicting place to be because it lacks accountability, therefore I didn’t have to take any ownership of where I was in my life. My therapist, also a black woman, wasn’t having that. She called me out on my bs and my ego every chance she got, reinforcing that her worth and mine are deserving of obligation and introspection.
The study of one’s self — that, I did a lot of. I was forced to really look at myself, my life, the decisions and the choices I had made that got me to where I was. I spent time analyzing how my past played a role in my thoughts and behaviors. Ya know, the hard work. The work that really tests your strength and will to “get well.” My therapist and best friend were there to support me, constantly showing me that I am worthy of patience and unconditional love, that I should give myself that.
According to the University of California, this is wellness; the active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a healthy and fulfilling life. I can’t say it gets easier, you just get stronger — mentally and emotionally. The tools I have acquired have become muscle memory in exercising as I navigate life. I wouldn’t be here, able to share my testimony, if it wasn’t for the black women I ha(ve)d holding me up. I am so much happier today and much more aware of how I navigate the world and how my thoughts influence that. I am well and worthy of all the wins this life still has to offer me.
Peace is a queer, black woman writer residing in Austin, Texas. Her work can be seen on Write About Now Poetry as well as published in Thorntree Press’ A Whore’s Manifesto and her latest body of work, “Inside a Whore’s Mind.” In addition to writing & performing, she facilitates workshops based on social and emotional intelligence. Subjects of her voice include: Motherhood, Feminine Empowerment, All BLACK Everything, Mental & Emotional Health, Institutionalization, Homeless Eradication, Heteronormative Standards, LGBTQ, Womanism, Business Empowerment & Growth.
You can connect with her through her website https://peacebethecreative.com/, on instagram @peacebethecreative and twitter @peacedacreative