I have met a lot of people with scars who are ashamed to show them. I myself was ashamed of my own until I met Maya Angelou. She is one of the most influential African American writers in this country. Her writing talks to me, my soul, and it makes me think about my own life. The lady is real. It wasn’t by accident that I had the chance to meet this woman. At the time, I had been regretting telling a friend about an awful experience. I was afraid that she would look down on me, especially because I showed how that pain still affected my actions. Yet, there stood this woman with a similar experience, and she told the entire world about it in her books.
I sat in Barnes & Noble listening to her magnetic voice as she talked about the meaning, power, and value of words. Her voice wove through the room embracing our hearts tight for several minutes. Maybe it was my perception, but she made everyone feel her grandiose love.
I looked at the 85 year old famous author, and questioned my fear. What, and who was I afraid of? Here was this living legend, openly putting her shield down, and talking about how love heals. I knew then, that in order for that to happen, I had to undress my wounds, and properly close them up. If I can’t heal, then how can I talk about it? If I can’t rise, then how can I talk about falling and rising in my stories? I had to be true to myself.
That night I came home, I lit a candle to help me reflect, and I wrote a poem about who I really am. I realized that there’s strength in the hardships that I’ve experienced, because I got through them. A lot of us carry scars from experiencing violence, abandonment, neglect, sexual abuse, drug and alcohol over use. Our suffering is all that we see. It is heavy on our hearts, and puts a blanket over our souls.
I now recognize that I had already began this process several years ago as I’ve confronted those that have hurt me, and made them accountable for their actions. I have taken the power away from them, and started to free myself from their heavy claws on my heart. Yes, I did lose a few family members, but that is fine since they serve no good in my life. I’m not going to lie, it was one of the hardest things that I’ve done. Yet, to hear that person admit that their actions were harmful was redemption.
I began to share poetry publicly about my hardships, and exposing my story. What happened next was surprising to me. Others around me began to also unveil their deep wounds. Some which were still fresh on their hearts. By doing this, I began to meet several warriors, and many healers. We have shown each other compassion, sympathy, and empathy all at the same time. Just like Maya Angelou said that night to us, love does heal. Love comes in many forms from different sources, but you have to be open to receiving it. Acceptance does heal. Some people started to write to tell me that they couldn’t believe that I was sharing my life, and that they admired me for doing it. I didn’t really seek admiration. I had already lost so much in my life, that I had nothing else to lose, but much more to gain.
Am I afraid that people will think less of me the more I share? Sometimes, since I am human. Do I think that some are not ready to see me for who I am? Certainly. Do I believe that I have led the best life that I could with everything thrown at me? YES! I know that scars don’t define us, but our actions do. What’s up to us is whether we are going to keep going with our heads held high, and how we walk the walk going forward. There’s no shame in knowing, and showing who we are. No living person can tell us what our truth is, and no one can edit our lives, but us. Scars make us interesting, scars make us living warriors. Hopefully, one day when we are 85 years old like Maya Angelou, we can look back and see that we too did RISE.