I had been back for a day and I was not feeling it. I was feeling irritable and tired despite having slept soundly (minus a dream about visiting Hong Kong and shopping my heart out and meeting some random but really cute guy) for the past almost 9 hours. I was tempted to go back to sleep, telling myself maybe I needed more rest, but I wanted to get to the coffee shop before the crowd got there and snag my favorite two seater table by the window and get some work done.
As I stared in the mirror and brushed my teeth I told myself tar I could just stay home. I still had a lot of packing to do and I don’t need a coffee shop to get my work done. I had my comfy green couch in the living room, my sturdy little desk in my office, or my feather top mattress bed. I had a host of my own teas, plenty of eggs, peppers, onion, and chicken sausage to whip up a get breakfast. “Get out the house Ahyana.” I said as I gargled.
I got dressed, put my hair up, and took a look at my little daily inspiration calendar on my nightstand, courtesy of my dad last Christmas. I’d been away for a bout two weeks and swiftly flipped the pages from July 10th to today’s date. The inspiration was about insecurity and emotional hiding. I know tat doesn’t sound inspirational. The inspiration came from the reminder that I don’t need to be insecure or hide because God loves me and wants all of me. See- inspiration! So why did I start to cry? Because my response to the Why are you emotionally hiding? It was simple and yet caught me off guard. I felt ashamed.
I felt ashamed for not sticking things out at my job, for not making it work, for not staying despite how unhealthy it was and how real my experiences were with racism and sexism. As I said this aloud to myself, the dozen or so boxes stacked from hardwood floor to off white ceiling, empty hangers, and random collection of accessories atop my white three bureau, there was a moment of clarity. As I said aloud that I was ashamed for not staying, I was flooded with the moments that initially nudged then shook then slammed me into resigning. “Ahyana that’s crazy.” It was crazy. I don’t use the word crazy lightly. To me it makes no type of rational sense to be ashamed of leaving a place (or relationship) that is unsafe and causes harm. I half smiled as I unplugged my phone, moved a few boxes to reach my large read canvas tote bag to fill with all of the things I’d need to be productive at the coffee shop.
As I walked the four blocks to get my jasmine green tea and my favorite window seat I thought more about why I even thought I should have stayed in a situation that wasn’t healthy or safe. I knew before I reached the stop sign at the corner of my street that it was something that had been normalized for me. Not only had I observed several family members stay in unhealthy relationships (including domestic violence relationships), but friends, and colleagues do the same. I’d listened to how it could be worse (and not daring to dream it could also be better), that if they wait it out it would change (nope boo boo, change creates change), that so and so was just “in one of their moods,” and the list of rationalizations for coping through circumstances that were unhealthy but seemed to provide some type of “I am strong” award could go on because even as I type this ,the list of people I know striving for that award and staying in places and with people that I’ve watched negatively impact their welfare, goes on an on.
I’m not anti strength. I’m anti unhealthy. I’m anti a definition of strength that I’ve experienced and witnessed come at the expense of physical, emotional, financial, relational, mental health. I’m anti strength that when the sacrifices are counted they include me, myself, and I. I’m anti strength that deems staying more valuable than the courage it takes to walk away, speak up, stand up, say enough or see yourself and unravel your identity from a codependent entanglement to the approval or welfare of others as a number one priority. That isn’t strength. That’s crazy.
By the time I actually sat in my blue and tan wicker seat by the bay window with the sunlight stroking my cheek, sipped my tea and thoroughly enjoyed my pastry, I breathed deeply, slowly, satisfied in clarity that I had nothing to be ashamed of, that I didn’t need to defend my decision to leave or hide it from folks for that matter. I managed to identify what I needed to thrive in a space and managed to make an exit after their demonstrating an inability to provide that (a safe, racist and sexist free environment, and one where if racism, sexism, or any form of discrimination did occur was addressed and not ignored). I chose what I needed and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. For those of you who say that perhaps the people who chose to stay in unhealthy circumstances reserve that right, I agree, they do. I realize I don’t always know the dynamics of the circumstance, only what I see or what a person chooses to share. I also know that if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s not a raccoon. So if it looks unhealthy, sounds unhealthy, I’m not going to call it healthy ( but will respect whatever the person chooses to call it). At the end of the day the Simply LIVEd Life is a chosen life, and I just hope people choose healthy, to lean into the hard stuff, muddle through the tears, stay alert and for and seek that moment of clarity (it will come) in the midst of the crazy, and let that clarity help guide you out of the crazy.