In our world we are separated by barriers, boundaries or shall I say titles that keep us at a distance. They stop us from achieving the goal of seeing everyone as a brother and sister. They stop us from being judged by the content of our character instead of the color of our skin. While I am the title of African-American woman, I now face the harsh truth of another title 'transient.' By this I mean have I come and gone in and out of people's lives without putting down roots or establishing a real connection. Have I come to the realization that I have played into this "title giving" role so deeply that it has destroyed my connections with others?
From a very young age, I in many ways lived with my mom and my Aunt Claudine. Being the youngest of 5, I barely communicated much with my 3 older brothers (my oldest brother being 11 years older than me) and my relationship with my sister was bad to say the least. Also the feeling of abandonment from a "dad" (whom I call sperm donor) I met once in my entire life made things even worse. I honestly would have preferred to not meet him that one day.
My escape from my feelings and the wrath of my sister was to run to my Aunt's home whenever possible. This escape resulted in the disconnect of communication with my mother, missed opportunity of connecting with my brothers, and all around misunderstandings with my sister. A total lack of communication ruined the makeup of my immediate family.
My Aunt 'Dean, as we called her, and my cousin Keisha were my shelter from the many storms I went through growing up. When my Aunt passed away of breast cancer I was a teen, so self-absorbed with my own pain that I didn't say goodbye. I couldn't even push my self-absorption aside to be able to comfort my cousin during her grief. Two major things that haunted me for so long until 3 days ago, almost 16 years later.
From there I would go from Aunt to Aunt, from cousin to cousin searching for a deep connection of communication I missed out on in my immediate family. Only to not be able to find it in my intermediate family either. I did however find much hurt and pain from the past being held on to by many of them. So much so that it destroyed many of their relationships as adults as well. I found brokenness in far too many areas of my entire family. So much damage cannot be undone unfortunately.
For me, I was more searching for the title of mother and sister to be filled, to have a sort of do over. I even carried this on into my adult life searching for protectors, for people to fill those positions, only to be greatly disappointed. It was more that I couldn't let go of my feeling of dissatisfaction or disconnect from those titles to be able to gain a deep connection with anyone. Even those with the title of best friend, as grand as it is, couldn't stop me from my transitory nature and from being distant.
I chose to walk through life a loner, just as I had been when I was younger. Never feeling like I truly belonged anywhere, not being able to tell anyone my hurt and pain, believing I could not trust anyone. I've even cut people out of my life, some I regret, while others were a necessity.
I'd conditioned myself to be distant, to not confide in anyone. In my early 20s, when I worked at a job for 5.5 years, I became close friends with many of my associates, but I always kept them at a distance. At 25, when living in a hostel for 3 months in California, I didn't fully connect with those who I became friends with and by then I'd become a passive-aggressive handful. Then came my life in Las Vegas, a city known for its transient people. I decided to make it my home, I mean I wasn't getting close to anyone so why not? After 3 years here and much growing up, I came to the conclusion that I must put down roots in Vegas. I no longer wish to live as a transient person. This is where I belong.
Even after visiting my hometown in IL I recognized that I can never have or get the relationship I wanted with my relative family. The family I must focus on is here with the love of my life and the city I live in, with those so called transient people. I must stop walking through life disconnected from everyone. If I hadn't met my fiance I'm sure I would still be living transiently.
What sparked this entire realization was a visit from my Aunt Claudine in my dream 3 nights ago. She was my way of letting go of the past, of realizing that while I have given apologies and forgiven others for their past transgressions, I must also forgive myself. I believe she wants me to move forward because she has forgiven me. I must stop being so closed off and start connecting with other people. Life is too short for me to be carrying this baggage that holds me back. This dream was much needed and I know it was sent from my Father.
The trip to IL to help my loved ones change their lives for the better by improving their health and happiness didn't work out as well as I thought. I thought because they are my relative family I could pursued them to change certain bad habits, just as I'd done for myself. Over 50% of African American women are obese and my family is no exception. I wanted them to live long healthy, happy lives. I understand now that often times people become so conditioned in their emotions whether it be anger, disappointment, fear, stubbornness, sadness, victim, etc; or in other words "set in their ways" that they cannot be moved. For an outside person to bring up such things only sparks a defensive response. It is up to the individual to realize such things then take action to change it. There's another baggage burden removed from my shoulders, I cannot feel responsible for anyone, but myself.
While I could not help my family and friends from my hometown, I will continue to work on helping those whose time it is to receive my help. I have to let go of the past, that time has come and gone. I cannot continue to live with my heart in two places, I no longer live there and although they are my family by relation, everyone is my family. Since I cannot drop the title of family I will expand on it, broaden its definition.
The things I missed out on from my childhood cannot be replaced, I can however make even better memories to make up for the ones I wanted. While I also ask others to look beyond all the titles that keep us separated I must take my own advice. No matter what the race, religion, sexuality, etc of a person is; whether black, white, yellow, red, gay, straight, bisexual, trans-gendered, American, European, African, Asian, Hispanic; everyone is my mother, brother, and sister. I must begin my own path of redefining what those titles mean, I must let go of what I once defined them as (only relatives). By opening up my heart to every and all, I am embracing my Father's love even more just as he wants. This is what we all should do. WE ARE ALL FAMILY.