'I am a woman who wants love and wants to love, but does not trust her body to anyone, a man or woman. The rape is too fresh.' [an interview]Read Now
MW: So we talked earlier about growing and cutting locs. Why did you cut yours?
Anonymous: So what I realized both times I had locs was that I was definitely experiencing – whether through direct intention or because of the nature of the relationships of the people that were in my life and the people who had locked me up – but I was experiencing the byproduct of voodoo. I first thought I couldn’t be completely sure but there were times when my locs would start locking themselves.
MW: You mean your locs started locking together? You mean they got thicker?
Anonymous: No, I mean they would start to twist on their own. I had a conversation with my very first love from high school recently and he was telling me about his brother’s locs and how his brother was having demonic experiences. And I was like, ok, thank you, someone is validating my feelings about what is going on with my body and my energy. Because I started having really serious problems. I was in the hospital like every month.
Both times I’ve had my hair locked it was by women who – although I was unaware – had been sexually involved with the men that I was presently sexually involved with. And that led to some very funky things. It was a whole circle of energy because the Chicago hip-hop scene is so small, which I came to understand, the deeper I got into the underground hip-hop world. I think I was always privately a B-girl but really, I’m a poet. So no matter how much I might want to break dance or how much I might love hip hop and nod my head, I love poetry and I love jazz, and I love hip hop because I love jazz, and not because I’ve always felt in agreement with the music and the lyrics. But I feel like, for many years I enabled certain behaviors in myself because I would keep bobbing my head.
So these two people I wound up feeling incredible attraction to – one was a MC and one was a DJ. The DJ, I spent years in and out of a relationship with – and they both had one woman in common who they had both slept with – and she was the last person who regularly did my locs. I came to a realization the last time that I saw her… her body had changed, her look was different – and I was like, you know what? She kinda look like a voodoo priestess. And then this internal voice was like, what made you say that? We were all in the room together – me, her and the DJ – and I noticed his energy was extremely different. And it made me realize that she was the one he had always wanted, but I think that since she had always been openly bisexual but definitely leaning towards lesbianism – like, she was a woman who loved women but occasionally would enjoy a man – I think I realized in both situations, with the MC and the DJ, that I was a woman who represented something for these men, but I was never the woman they really wanted.
So both times I had locs – and prior to this particular person locking my hair, the very first person who locked my hair used to be in a group with this woman I’m talking about. They weren’t necessarily enemies but they definitely had some heat between them. Now my head has been between all this energy for years, and I kept trying to figure out why certain things were happening, and never putting two and two together until I really started studying Buddhism. When I started studying Buddhism, a whole lot of things came together very quickly and rapidly. Within a two year period I went from having a job, my own crib, and living very comfortably, to being homeless, to living in a shelter, to living in a nursing home, to moving back home with my parents, and I cut my locks one night kind of in a fear because I had realized there were some negative energies that were starting to get way out of control, and that I needed to ground myself in something that would just allow me to be myself.
MW: Wow, that’s serious business…
Anonymous: Yeah, locks are extremely serious and I hold them to be sacred because learning about how slave owners degraded and manipulated the women by shaving their heads and making them feel less than female and making them chattel property – that really struck a chord with me when I first learned it. I notice that I had much more confidence - because I’d never been a person with much self esteem or confidence – until I got locks. It was the first time I allowed myself to be in my skin as a dark skinned woman. Because every time I would see myself – you know how you daydream? In my daydreams, I was white. And that’s when I realized how affected I had been by all of my experiences. So that is the short version behind how my locs got cut off twice and why I want to be inside of a specific place and specific energy before I lock back up. And that also gives me enough time to be settled on who I want to lock my hair, although I now know I can lock it myself. And even if I lock myself up, I still want to be in a certain space, mindset, heart set – that I do that with the spirit of love and having done a lot of work around my own healing.
MW: Tell me about your healing…
Anonymous: So, Daniel G. Amen has this book called “Change Your Brain, Change Your Life,” which I found out about because the commercial kept playing over and over again at night. I bought the book because I wanted to know what other things I could do to aid myself besides the things that were being recommended to me – as a person who had dealt with mental health issues my whole life – in terms of medication. In this book, Daniel G. Amen talks specifically about the human brain and relationships, and how he did these imaging studies with people who were dealing with certain strains in their relationships, people who had separated from their spouses, and people who had lost their spouses in death. And in the book, he actually has pictures of the images of these brains. And it showed that how the brain looks when you lose someone in death is very similar to how the brain looks when you lose a relationship.
MW: You mean breaking up?
Anonymous: Yeah – and it talks about how when you are intimate with someone – once you become physically and emotionally intimate with somebody – there are unique bonds that form with the neurons in your brain. So once that relationship ends, there is an un-bonding process that happens, which is why people get physically sick and feel physical pain when relationships end.
I was talking earlier about the relationship I was in with the DJ – it became clear early on that I was loving him more than – not necessarily more than he loved me but more than he was able to love me.
MW: Not love as a noun but love as a verb…
Anonymous: Yeah. He was loving me to the extent that he was willing and/or able to, and I was loving him the way that I do naturally love, which is just full force. So now that the relationship is over – it’s two years later – my direct memory of that relationship ending is, the last night that I saw him, when I got home, I was raped in front of my house. By a man who I had mistaken for my first love – the first man I slept with. I was getting ready to say something to him, and then when he turned around I realized I didn’t know who it was. But obviously that was it for him. He pretty much followed me on the train, and then on the bus home. He had a gun. He took the gun off when I refused to let him go in the house, so that he could rape me outside. I never screamed. At one point there was this realization that I had my bag on and my phone was right there, but because he had a gun, I realized I was just less interested in there being two types of violence that happened in the moment. So I surrendered myself – my body – and just said, you’re going to have to do what you’re planning to do because you’re not coming in my house. My parents were asleep – I didn’t want to risk him coming in and then killing all of us. And when I started to cry – because I started calling out Jah’s name in my mind – so in my mind I’m thinking Jehovah. And then his conscience hit – it was like something physically happened. He stopped, he pulled away, and then he looked kind of stunned for a moment, and then he watched to make sure I got in the house safely.
MW: You mean your attacker waited to make sure you got in the house safely? Because you called on Jehovah?
Anonymous: Well I didn’t say it out loud. I had been calling it out in my mind.
MW: While it was happening?
Anonymous: Yeah – the moment he like, snatched my pants down.
MW: But then he stopped?
Anonymous: Yeah, he stopped. He had already penetrated me, but he stopped. And it was crazy because he had been talking to me the whole way home. He gave me plenty of information. He told me he had just gotten out of jail and his baby mama wasn’t letting him see his kids, he told me he had been raped while he’d been in prison, he told me that he had just come from getting all his tests done and he knew he didn’t have anything …
MW: So this is someone you talked to all the way home?
Anonymous: Yes, and that is nothing unnatural for me, which is why I didn’t see a red flag until too late.
MW: But he walked you all the way home, right? So at some point you must have gotten really scared like, okay so… where do you live?
Anonymous: He had already told me he lived on the west side but he said he knew people around where I lived. So I was like, oh, ok. And I was still very much in shock from breaking up with my boyfriend like, okay, my relationship is over, and I’m not going to be around a bunch of people I used to be around. I mean, my ex was the DJ. So I’m not going to go to the same places…
Doesn’t it suck when a hip-hop relationship breaks up and he gets the hip hop and you get to be the groupie? Ugh, I hate that!
Anonymous: I know, right? I wrote a poem about that. And last year on the two year anniversary of my rape – this is how spirit works – a friend of mine who didn’t know about what had happened to me invited me to come feature at this open mic, but she was like, I have to tell you – your ex is one of the DJs who are spinning tonight. Now, I have a therapist. So I talked to my therapist and I was like, so I got invited to be a feature at this open mic night and the ex is going to be one of the main DJs and I’m thinking I should do my rape poem. Because for me, that was the circle. I’m really big about completing circles and it was like this has rolled around again in such a powerful way. It gave me the opportunity to be inside my body and inside of my knowing around him in a way that I felt I never was. The first thing that I noticed immediately that night is that I walked in – and I know how he spins – so just hearing the music, it was like my whole body went warm. It was like, oooh, yes. That’s what made me comfortable. It’s like, just to be able to do it – there weren’t a lot of people in the room, or a lot of people we knew in the room – only a few specific people. But ever since the climax of our relationship, I see people and we get into conversations and all they can do is tell me about how much he hasn’t changed, how poor his behavior is, how they always knew I would outgrow him.
MW: Like that’s good news? Like you’re not mourning…
Anonymous: Right, and I would feel guilty that that information didn’t make me love him any less. It’s like, and that doesn’t make me feel better than him either.
MW: No, I’m sure it made you sad…
Anonymous: It made me very sad, because the whole time the idea that I’m clinging to is, I did what’s best for both of us, I’m going to take the time to heal, it’s not going to be about me being spiteful, what happened to me is not his fault, I have to take partial responsibility, and then I have to forgive my ex because he wasn’t there to protect me. And all of these ideologies – I’m still in the process – because it’s always easier to forgive other people and still self blame. And even now, recently, my ex reached out and told me what his situation was. I felt good that he felt like he could check for me, but at the same time I found myself being very realistic and checking myself like, you know this is not about you. You don’t need to rekindle anything. The only way that he is going to heal and grow the way that I want him to and the way that I believe that he can is if I continue to keep my distance and continue to work on myself. And my prayer has always been, if Holy Spirit and the grand scheme of things down the road – I don’t care if it's 16 years down the road – if it happens, then let it happen, and let it be blessed in the way it was not blessed when we were in it. Because we were both too broken. We were both too jaded. We were both too physical and sexual and not emotional and spiritual. And so, it is what it is.
MW: But you were both mirrors for each other…
Anonymous: Yes we were. But the thing is, my mirror woke me up. And his mirror made him angrier. So I think we reacted in different ways. There’s a scripture in the Bible that talks about how a man will look himself in the mirror and immediately go off and forget what sort of man he is. And I feel like my ex has consciously done that for awhile and made excuses for himself, because there is a place where he just doesn’t want to go. It’s a heart place.
And I feel like I also saw this in my husband, when I was married – my husband didn’t want to go to his heart place either because he didn’t want to open himself up to feel the risk of feeling pain. Because to love totally, means to feel pain, totally. He didn’t want to risk being pained completely. And I realized I’m completely the opposite. I will completely love every time and risk it all – but I’ve done that too many times – and then I got to the point where I couldn’t function. There was a whole year where I was just on the couch at my parent's house, having tics – and I still have tics and that’s something that’s new – and hearing voices – I mean the trauma climaxed to the point where my body broke. It was like, that’s it, we can’t do that no more, you have to stop, you have no choice.
MW: Wow. So after the assault happened, did you tell your ex?
MW: How was that?
Anonymous: He was angry. Anger is always his first response. I don’t think he always wants it to be, but he drinks. But I didn’t tell him right away. And I think what he was angry about was that that event did not change the fact that I wasn’t going to be seeing him, talking to him, and also me saying this is all too painful, even having this conversation and you’re getting upset. It was like, it’s not all about you right now. I understand it may be shocking and maybe that’s not something you wished on me, but I have way more reasons to be angry so I need you to just respect that part of it.
MW: Did it make your breakup that much harder because you wanted to lean on him?
MW: So how did you… how was that not a back slide?
Anonymous: Well, the rape happened on December 27th. I had just moved home to my parent’s house from the nursing home on October 10th. And the time that I spent in the nursing home, talking to people and praying with people, praying for people, having people pray for me, praying for myself– social workers kept asking me, why are you here? And why are you still dealing with this dude? And I had learned from the questions of others, that just maybe I really did deserve better. For me better meant having the relationship with myself that I had been trying to have with him for years – spiritual, balanced, rooted in love, and transcendent. And the epiphany came that after our interaction the night before the rape happened was that who I had made him out to be in my mind and who I wanted him to be in my heart was not who he currently was. So after the rape, I realized that inviting him back into my life also meant inviting back into my life the energy that surrounded my rape and I couldn’t allow that to happen. And not having him around to punish me for my mistakes, gave me to time I needed to forgive myself for them.
MW: How do you mean the energy he brought into your life was the same energy that brought the rape into your life?
Anonymous: I mean that the energy of neither one of us respecting ourselves or valuing each other enough to walk away from the destructive, codependent behaviors that engulfed our relationship. In 6 years, I still hadn’t learned to say no. Had I not left him that night on 12/27/2011 feeling worthless and numb, I would have had the wherewithal to prevent my rape. I had allowed my ex’s energy to render me powerless and eliminating that energy thus produced the opposite outcome, which was me being powerful enough to just say no.
MW: And why were you living at the nursing home?
Anonymous: Mainly I was there because my parents weren’t ready for me to come home. I had an illness and they needed to support me, and they really weren’t ready for what that was going to look like. I realized that and I was like, I need to go somewhere away to give you time to process this and also to give myself time and space to hear myself to know what I want to do for me. Not just, I’m in your house and I’m trying to abide by rules and all of that. Because me and my mother have a history that’s not a positive one, so the more friction that was between me and her, the more I would want to run to my ex. So I was just trying to give my mother time to know, because she really needed to process her decision.
And during this same time period, I was involved in work at Be Present and I had already been enrolled in an 18 month institute – so during all this – there was the breakdown, I was in and out of mental health institutions, taking different types of medication, going from employed to unemployed, the relationship – all of these dynamics are happening and everyone who I’m involved in this 18 month institute with know about it. And I have no money but the woman who introduced me to the work – her parents, who don’t know me – are paying for every flight I take for all the Be Present retreats and workshops.
MW: Can you explain what Be Present is?
Anonymous: Be Present Inc. is an organization that grew from a workshop started by Lillie P. Allen down in Atlanta. It grew into a not-for-profit organization. It is grounded in the empowerment model which, essentially at the root, is a support group. Its people intentionally in support of other persons – not necessarily people they know – it can be strangers, single moms who want to meet with other single mothers – but it’s pretty much a building block for helping people create that support wherever they are, because it is a national community. So headquarters is in Atlanta and people come from all over to come together for the purpose of the work. For me, I came from Chicago and at first, I didn’t know anything about it. I ended up attending a developer’s meeting for people who are aware of the model and committed to using the model in everyday life. And for me, I was drawn to it because at the time, my services had been cut. I didn’t have a psychiatrist, a therapist, or medication, and I was looking for a way to keep myself up, because I get depressed. Mental illness is very heavy on my father’s side of the family and addiction is on my mother’s side. So I was looking for support.
The Be Present empowerment model demands that you be present in your hearing so if your mind starts to wander or you start to think about what you’re supposed to be doing or you’ve missed what that person had said, you are expected – and therefore have the self expectation – to speak up and say, I’m sorry, I was not present and in the moment with you and I missed what you said, would you mind repeating that? And sometimes that does turn into a further conversation about, where were you? Because the interest is then, did something that person said trigger you? Or was that just a moment of, you were struggling with listening or you just had a natural distraction in your mind?
One of the first meetings I went to – it was held in a small and intimate room, but to me, it represented all of humanity. And that impacted me in a powerful way. I realized I had come from that, I was raised on that. In my faith as a Jehovah’s Witness, I grew up integrated – even though I came up poor, black, living on the southside of Chicago – we lived below the poverty line – I didn’t have a shower anywhere I lived, I never lived in a house –
MW: What did you have, if you didn’t have a shower?
Anonymous: We just had a bathtub. We just never had like a literal, shower head. But at the same time, I was always very cultured and we were always around people of various races. We went to meetings in our community and my father had been in a prison as a conscientious objector for the Vietnam War, and he met other men who had also been imprisoned. So we would travel and see the families of other men who had been imprisoned and they were all different backgrounds and ethnicities and cultures. And also because the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses is world wide – I mean anywhere we go – if we took a family vacation, we go to the local Kingdom Hall in their community. And before that moment, I really never thought of my religion as a community. I subconsciously knew that because I knew we hung out at each other’s houses – people bring you clothes, bring food over – whatever – but I never thought about it in that sense. And at the time that I joined Be Present, I was estranged from the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
MW: So it struck you as a kind of coming home?
Anonymous: It felt like coming home. That’s exactly what it was.
MW: Why were you estranged?
Anonymous: When I had gotten married, I married someone who was also a Jehovah’s Witness. The experiences that I had inside of my marriage – not necessarily with him as a man – because we were very young and we didn’t know how to wait to get on the other side of the struggle. We were both already running – literally ran, physically ran from our marriage. We had already emotionally run. I had definitely emotionally run the first year. Nine months into my marriage, I was trying to kill myself.
Anonymous: Because the communication in my marriage was completely broken down. And I felt trapped. Because I really believed in him as artist – I supported him – but he was really struggling with what it meant to be a man and what that looked like and we had two different ideas, and I felt like I had invested a lot of time before our marriage trying to emphasize to him what kind of woman I was not. I was not that woman that felt like my husband needed to have a job and we have a house with a two car garage, or he needed to be making like sixty thousand a year where I didn’t have to work and I could just stay home.
MW: So you’re saying you were not that kind of woman?
Anonymous: I was not that kind of woman. But we were surrounded by peers who were already at that level. Many of us were young and we had a lot of peers that were married young. And that’s something now that people recognize – and not just in the community of Jehovah’s Witnesses – because there’s a whole history behind teenagers getting married, or people getting married at a young age, period. Men and women. Different cultures are different. In certain Latino cultures, people are married by 15. It just is what it is, you know? The difference is that the family – our family did not bond. And that’s what I felt like really contributed to my marriage not being successful because there was too much backtalk and whispers and judgments, and the more I tried to say, can we – ‘cause my family will have a family meeting in a minute – and I was like, we really need everybody to just come to the table…
MW: What were the judgments about?
Anonymous: I found out later but I think I knew in the beginning – that there was a huge fear in his family about him marrying me because...me and my parents definitely had a conversation with him about mental illness, about my genetic predisposition, what could potentially happen down the road – because my mom did not know that my father was mentally ill before she married him, and found out later, and suffered a lot of pain just out of ignorance and not knowing and not having a language for it. And my father is the person who has , what they call, a strong aversion to medication, and he has a good reason for feeling that way because the medication just sucks – its sedative – and you feel like the person’s going to give you medication to help you function but you really can’t function at all.
For my husband, even though we had watched videos and he had talked to my family – my father kind of took him under his wing – my dad’s a carpenter, my husband’s an architect – he was giving him work because he wasn’t working. Before I got married, I told him it was fine that I was the one with the job – I paid for our apartment, I had already paid cash for my car. I was 19. I was like, I know you’re a talented artist and I know that you’re going to make it work – I didn’t have any doubt about the fact that he was going to be a successful individual – but he just needed it to not be what it was. He needed it to not be that I was the person managing finances, and I was the person who had paid for this and paid for that. He needed to be the person that was handling that, because that was what his manhood was tied to.
The other part of it was that there was nothing he could do to change the fact that I was mentally ill. And I think that hurt him in a way. I don’t know if my husband somehow shut himself down some because he was afraid that he might lose me, or something tragic might happen. We had a conversation once about the fact that he wouldn’t cry – I mean as long as I knew him, in arguments or whatever, or if something happened tragically – I never saw him shed tears, ever. And part of that scared me, because I was like, why is it that nothing moves you to tears? And he told me about what happened when he was young and lost his grandmother. And that was something that we had in common, because there was something that definitely happened to me when I lost my grandmother. For him, his solution was just to not be that close, you know, to just not have that attachment and connection. And his father had abandoned their family too, so he was dealing with the abandonment of his dad and the death of his grandmother at a young age. I think it affected how he expressed himself.
For me, the death of my grandmother when I was a young girl – she died from brain cancer and we took care of her until she passed away – that was the first event that triggered me writing poetry. So I became a poet at 9 – I was published at 9. So I pretty much knew that’s what I was going to do.
And something that struck me while I was married was that, I was not writing. It took awhile and I realized how long it had been since I had written a poem, and I thought, this is bad. Something’s really really wrong. Essentially by the time we had reached our second year of marriage – in a two week period I had a 16 year old cousin that was brutally raped and murdered – it was all over the news. A week after that my husband’s two year old niece died – aspirated in her crib – and then the week after that, my niece my collapsed. She’s alive now but she was dead on arrival at the hospital and that’s when they found out she had leukemia. So that happened within a two week period. And prior to my cousin getting murdered, my mom had a phone call from my uncle about things that were going on and I had said to my mom, somebody needs to go get her. Because she’s either going to run away and none of us are going to know where she is, or she’s going to wind up dead. And I remember asking my husband if she could just stay with us for awhile and he was highly opposed to that, and I think I really began to hate him after her death. Because I felt guilty. And I felt like there was a chance for us to save her and he didn’t get it. So I have a lot of work to do around that and I’m still realizing it because sometimes things will happen that remind me of her and I realize I didn’t properly grieve. Because I was in too much anger about my marriage.
MW: Were you still at this point supporting the two of you by yourself?
MW: And when you say he had a problem with that… he wasn’t able to change it?
Anonymous: I think he was actively working to change it but what that meant was that my husband was never home. The first year of our marriage, he was not at our house. Mostly. Unless he wanted to have sex. And we had religious meetings that we were going to.
So I started having really bad panic attacks, and every Sunday we would fight. And I mean, it would be something stupid. Sometimes I was like, am I overreacting? And I was like, something is happening. I mean it was every single Sunday. Why is it all week, things have been silent and suddenly on Sunday when we’re getting ready to go for a spiritual activity, there’s a fight? And I had a real issue with trying to go into God’s house after what has transpired in my home and I’m cursing and heated. Once I get anxious or nervous – when I get angry period – I shake. I tremble. I’ve never wanted to be a go for blows kind of person, so I deal with it with tears and it affects me. So I’d be trying to get ready and he would be standing there, dressed, with an attitude. So I would be like, leave. Mind you, it’s my car. I’m married and I’m going to school and I’m letting him drive my car to school and I’m on the bus and on the train – because I was also in school for architecture.
So eventually I came to the point where I realized that we had demons in our house. And the night where it hit the fan was when I was so low and so depressed and so out of sorts – I didn’t know what to do. I got married with the impression that I was gon’ really stay married because I hold marriage to be very sacred – although I did know there were many issues going in – I tried to tell him, like maybe we shouldn’t get married, maybe we should wait, but he didn’t want to wait. And me being the people pleaser that I am, I was like, ok. My wedding day was a nightmare, and then a week after we had come back from our honeymoon, our home was burglarized. And then three weeks after that, I didn’t know who he was anymore. He was just a different person.
MW: How did he change?
Anonymous: It was like he just wanted to control. Like he was very affectionate all while we were dating – even though it’s not in the the same context, it’s kind of like that move ‘Enough’ with Jennifer Lopez. All of the wooing and bringing me flowers and going out on dates and to the movies and out to eat, and it made me feel – I mean he took me on a carriage ride and I had never had one of those before, and he brought me flowers . And so I felt like an adult. It made me feel like a woman. That was big. Because living in my mother’s house, I always felt inadequate and incompetent. That’s how my mother made me feel. I don’t think that was her intention and she has done her own homework around understanding and being aware of her behavior, and how I was affected then. And that’s not what she wanted. But there was a time when we had gotten to the point where we were okay – me and my mom — it’s funny because just the other day she brought up something and I realized – pretty much from the time I was living away, married to my husband, she punished my father because I got married. It’s one of those things where my mother had done a lot of things subconsciously in her life because she just hasn’t been able to come right out and talk about what’s wrong, what’s bothering her.
And she did write me a letter before I got married that pretty much said, I’m sorry for whatever I’ve done to make you feel like this is something that you need to do to get away from me. And in part it was true. But I was way too far into it. And I really didn’t know how to trust her, to say I don’t really want to get married. I didn’t have any of the tools to have that conversation at that point. I do now. And now that I’ve gotten involved in Be Present, I’ve quickly realized that part of rebuilding my life – not even rebuilding – part of building a life for myself, because I hadn’t done that – but I would have to start from the foundation stone, at home. I would have to repair the relationship with my mother and arrive in this place before I could be new. And even now, still, it happens to me where when my mother walks into a room, I tense up. And part of what that was about was that I was often physically disciplined. And I also remember having a conversation with my mother – this was part of my decision to go into the nursing home – was that we had a conversation and things were very thick – like literally, you know when the energy in a room is so thick that you have trouble breathing? We were sitting at the kitchen table and we had a conversation and she said something that triggered me and I got a little upset, and I said, you know, if you just would have talked to me more instead of whipping me all the time… And she said, I only whooped you like twice! I probably should have whooped you more than that. And I was like, are you serious? It was at least once a week. You only remember whipping me twice? So I was done. I was like, I think it’s a demon here too, and I gotta go. Like, I can’t even.
And I would watch my mother and she doesn’t know that she does this to this day but her eyes roll into the back of her head – and after having been to Be Present, I gained a much larger understanding about spirit. Even though I grew up in a Christian household, and I grew up reading the bible and hearing the scriptures expounded upon, in a very reasonable explicit way – to understand how spirit works for both God or divine force, and wicked forces, is something you really do have to experience to get it. And being in Be Present helped me to get it. Because I could tell the difference between how I saw people interacting, how I saw energy move around the room, how I saw people’s emotions, and how I saw people healing as well. There would be a different feeling when the healing started to set in and you could hear everything and literally my vision would go clear. I would have to take my glasses off because I could see 20/20.
After I came back from that first retreat, it was very clear that Be Present was something that I needed and that I needed to stay in the work and there was something spiritually healed to the point that I could come back and be one of Jehovah’s Witnesses again.
MW: Are you now?
Anonymous: I am now. But during that period, in the last relationship I was in with that DJ, he was getting angrier and angrier – he was like, who are these people? What are you doing? You come back all like you all different. And I tried to get him involved but he was like, no! And he really didn’t get it. He just knew that there were several lesbians in the community and he was like, is this some sort of lesbian thing? Because we had been having issues around my sexuality at that point, which he had been dealing with since having relationships in Chicago, since he’s not from Chicago. And that just about every woman he had been serious with had left him for a woman.
MW: So that was a valid fear? Are you bisexual?
Anonymous: Yes, I do identify as queer.
MW: And that’s not a problem for you, being a Jehovah’s Witness?
Anonymous: It’s not a problem for me (laughs). Nor do I think it’s a problem for God. Because I chose to live my life a certain way, out of respect.
MW: So when you left your faith for a little while during your marriage, is that because you wanted to leave your marriage and you were shunned or…
Anonymous: No, I left my faith because I felt like we weren’t getting enough support in our congregation to keep our marriage together. And I was frustrated by that. Also because there was a lot of behavior from a lot of couples – especially the younger couples – at that time, specifically at the congregation where we were, that said to me, there was something wrong across the board. So it was really about, I needed to distance myself from that congregation. But because there were so many factors, it was like, what was going on there, what was going on in my home, my husband’s family was getting more and more opposed to our marriage. But what really kind of drove the stake into my heart was that my husband had been having these conversations with my mom about me, and I didn’t realize. I knew something had kind of affected my relationship with my mother and I would be trying to explain things and she would just kind of like, fuss at me, or say, but are you aware of your flaws? And I would say, yes I am, I know myself very well… I didn’t realize that was going on until later.
So it culminated into a series of events and I started smoking cigarettes and I started smoking marijuana again and I knew those to be clear indicators to me that I was done with whatever my current situation was. Because I hadn’t smoked in six years. So I was like, this means I’m done, because I’ve completely given up on respecting my temple. I don’t feel respected and I don’t have any respect emanating from the people I really do want to be in my life, and I’m not willing to be in a situation that’s just about me correcting my behavior and nobody else wants to address theirs.
So I made the decision to move. At that time, while these things are happening, my niece was in St. Jude’s in Memphis battling leukemia. I’m going there and traveling back and forth. My husband’s getting upset about that, and I was like, that’s the closest thing I have to a child. For me to not be there – I hadn’t been able to step in the way I really wanted to for my cousin – so it didn’t even matter what he thought or felt. I didn’t even care. Part of me felt like that was wrong, and another part of me feels like I was justified because I hadn’t been shown enough sensitivity at that point to be able to then feel like, okay, why don’t you come with me for a few days? So it was rough. When I came back from Memphis, we had a conversation. I was like, I think I really need to have some therapy – I need you to go with me. I had even gone back seeing a psychiatrist, because there was a period where I wasn’t on medication, I wasn’t seeing a psychiatrist or a therapist or any of that, so I was struggling with things alone because my husband didn’t know how to support me. And I would be trying to get him to, or help him understand how to, but I think it was just overwhelming for him. And we later talked about too, how mental illness is in his family and the fact that they don’t deal with it. He has sisters who have attempted suicide – I’ve seen erratic behavior in his home – but it’s putting a label on it and dealing with it from a clinical perspective, I think was what threw him. It was just like…
MW: You just acting up… you just being crazy. Stop being crazy.
Anonymous: That was exactly it. And so I asked him to come with me to therapy and it was like, you the crazy one, I’m not crazy. I don’t need to go. So even when he agreed to come, he kind of just sat in the office in a very self assuming way, waiting for the doctor to talk to me and deal with me. And the doctor picked up on that – she was like, it’s not helping you that he’s coming in here because he’s not going to do anything. So it was at that point that I knew I needed to go. I had lost about 60 pounds rapidly. I had developed a benign skin cancer, and I had a doctor who pretty much said to me – I don’t know what’s going on but whatever it is, is it worth your life? So all those things happened – not necessarily in that order but they were in the same time frame – that led up to me not being with him.
And before it could end, I met this MC. This is going to come full circle because it connects to what we were talking about earlier with locks and energy. I met this MC on the bus on the way to school. I thought he might have been the most beautiful man I had ever seen. Not just like a celebrity or a guy in your neighborhood that you crush on, but I saw him and it was like I saw through him. So I got on the bus and the first thing I saw was his eyes – his eyes were gorgeous – and it was like seeing a lion on the train. And he had locks and I realized, I got a thing about me with hair. I remember when my husband’s fro grew out. I couldn’t keep my hands off him and he was like, what’s wrong with you? I was like, whoo! Your hair is what’s wrong with me! (Laughs) So I saw this King – which I still address him as – even though it was a really painful experience. Because I was at that point that I’ve seen played out on soap operas. I thought he was going to rescue me and I was going to find the real person I was supposed to be with. I don’t know what kind of delusions we get wrapped up inside of when we have not completed a cycle with one individual who we share a bed with, that we think the person who comes along is sent by God. That person is not sent by God. We gotta think the other way. That person was sent by somebody else to cause more trouble. And that’s exactly what happened. And so I found myself in the backseat of cars and I was just like, this really don’t feel like the fantasy…
So anyway, I give him my number but then I’m like, oh yeah, I’m married but we’re kind of having a rough time. I told him I was getting ready to go to Memphis and then I went to Memphis for a month. So while I’m away, I’m talking to him. I talked to him quite a few times – and texted him – and I talked to my husband once. In a month. So I knew I had a problem. It didn’t make it any easier that when I came back, somebody pulled me to the side to tell me about some inappropriateness my husband was having with his ex, who I felt like was never out of the picture anyway. In a way, I felt that I was the person he wound up with because his ex said no, and I kind of reminded him of her. So I had some things that I definitely dealt with in my marriage.
And I had gotten to the point where I was having rape dreams and I realized – it was the first time I formed my mouth to say the words out loud – I was molested by girls when I was a child. And I told my husband. I had told him while we were dating that I definitely knew that I had two sexual identities but that I loved men. I wanted him to be aware of that. I wanted him to know me. That was something I had not had many conversations about, and if you’re going to be my husband, I wouldn’t ever want this to come out in some strange way and then he says, you what? That ain’t Christian! So I was like, you just need to know that I’ve been kind of raunchy. Like, I’m a tom boy who’s got cojones, and I’ve moved in some rough circles but I don’t believe in violence. I could have been a gang banger but I chose to just dedicate my life to God and focus on earning an honest living. So, that’s me, I just want you to know. My husband wasn’t an angel, but at the same time, he didn’t smoke, he didn’t drink because he had a heart condition. He was not a partier or a thug – but in some ways, I was those things. And I always thought that he would be the best part of me. That was my vision of our marriage. I really believed he would make me a better woman, and by him not having been involved in a lot of things that I had been involved in when I was a teenager, or when I was angry and lost, trying to find somebody who understood me – I thought that our relationship was going to be the glue. I thought he was going to… you know, be my rock.
So I was angry about where I was. I was uber, super attracted to this other dude. I was realizing that I was choosing to be reckless, and that I was angry because I couldn’t get my husband to just agree to have therapy and to talk and to understand. I said, so guess what, I’m having rape dreams and I’m telling you I can’t have sex and you’re forcing me to have sex. Do you realize what …
MW: Wait, what?
Anonymous: He would just do it. I would go to sleep and I would get woke up with a very hard object in my vagina.
MW: Would you say no?
Anonymous: Yeah, I was crying.
MW: So he was raping you?
Anonymous: He was.
MW: And did you realize that at the time?
Anonymous: I did. And when I told people who I thought would assist, they told me it was not possible for a husband to rape his wife. So I exited my marriage – and I don’t curse but I’m going to say I exited my marriage f’d up. I exited it into the arms of this man who was also Shady Grady. But he was an MC… and I fell into the Chicago underground hip hop scene. I knew about it and I was always kind of like, that’s not my thing, I’m a Christian, I know what kind of things that happen, and I’m artist and I do love hip hop and I can probably bust a rhyme if you catch me at the right moment, but I didn’t want to ever be a groupie... because that’s not what I wanted to be. But I quickly transitioned to being a groupie.
MW: That is such a crazy dynamic. There really needs to be a support group for the girlfriends of emcees. Because you don’t know where you’re supposed to stand, and you don’t know where you’re supposed to sit… you don’t know whether you’re supposed to dance… you don’t know whether the people you dance with are people your man has beef with… you don’t whether you should drink… but then the dude moves through the crowd and talks to different people and you don’t know whether you’re supposed to be jealous. And if you’re feeling jealous, you don’t know if you should go stand outside – because you don’t want to be the girl wearing the face at the club – and if you do stand outside, you don’t know if you’re being perceived as antisocial. And if you’re perceived as antisocial, you don’t know if the dude regrets bringing you. And then if they don’t want to bring you, are they bringing other people?? It’s ridiculous…
Anonymous: Wow, you broke it down, like the whole nine. This was my dilemma—if you think dating an MC is bad, the DJ is ten times worse, because they just watching you from behind the table! I dated a DJ for a long time after the MC. So then you get home and it’s a conversation – so I saw you talking to so and so and you hugged him for x amount of seconds and, I’m like, what?! (laughs) But it is a very different experience for the artist who’s in their element and their zone, and the person who – even though also might be an artist – the spotlight is not on them.
MW: We’re just the chicks holding the coats for the boys in the cipher…
Anonymous: And by the time I came out of my marriage – it’s not an overstatement – I was really at the point where I was just thinking about prostituting. Because I was like, obviously the only thing any of these dudes wants is my vagina. And my heart has no value in this world. So I might as well at least be making some money and not struggling financially, if I’m gonna have to deal with this. I have such a small mindedness about it – I’m like, okay I’m in it, I’m giving my all, so I’m expecting reciprocation. But after the third relationship where it wasn’t reciprocated I was like, well I guess that’s everybody. And the MC that I was involved with – when he started talking about, so what do you think if we got an apartment? That’s when the fantasy really took off but then he immediately – it was kind of like without him ever saying it he was like, girl I was just playing. I don’t know why you ever took it that serious. And then I started getting text messages from his – mind you, I’m in a condo with my husband, this man doesn’t live far from us at all –and I’m getting text messages from this other chick about the other dude. And my husband is in my phone – like I’m sleep waking up and he walking around the house looking in my phone…
MW: He like, Harpo, who dis man?
Anonymous: And I’m like, ahem, can I help you? Something you need?? So he was obviously having his own intuitions and I’m like, I don’t check your phone and I know who calls your phone. Because there was a time, during the first year we got married, his phone would be ringing at ridiculous stupid times. Sometimes he would answer it but after awhile he stopped answering it. I knew it was his ex but when I would pick up the phone, she would put her son on the phone. Or she would leave messages with her son talking. So I was like, what is this, code talk or something, so she’s not leaving her voice but you know to call her back?
So anyway, me and the MC have all of these different dialogues that are very different dialogues than I have with my husband. And I never engaged with my husband on hip hop and it wasn’t until we had gotten to this point where we’re just roommates – and I have this other dude in my life – that my husband breaks out Tribe Called Quest and we start having some conversations. Now mind you, his stepfather is a DJ. All the time he’s been spending at his parent’s crib, pretty much on the tables – I didn’t know anything about that. I didn’t know that side of my husband. He never shared it. And how am I supposed to know if you’re never home, and we don’t have no conversations about that?
But he had started painting and I got him into the art gallery in Marshall Fields. I have always been, continue to be to this day, a hardcore fan of my husband’s artwork. He is truly talented. He’s gifted. I will always honor that in him. He took me out to dinner last year and it was like, I love you. I never hated you. I just hated the fact that we couldn’t have worked through it. But it takes two and I was carrying too much on my own and it was killing me. I went from being 196 lbs, but then I was like 135 lbs within a month, and I was like, yeah… this is a problem.
I remember this one time while I was married, I was in the bathroom. I had been in there for like two hours while my husband was playing video games. I was slicing my wrists underwater just enough to get enough blood in the water to run down the drain. I really was just cutting. I realized it later when I started working in behavioral health – it was like, I was cutting, I wasn’t really trying to kill myself. But that’s how I processed it because my grandmother – my father’s mother – had recently been hospitalized for slicing her wrists trying to kill herself. My grandmother has had several suicide attempts. And her grandmother hung herself.
But anyway, the woman who had been texting me – I confronted him about it first. I was like, what’s going on? We’re not even like, officially in a relationship so I don’t know why this is an issue. So just tell me what’s up. And he was like, she’s stalking me. So I started getting frustrated. At one point I sent her a picture of me holding a machete like, I don’t have time to play games. You either want to talk about it with me or you want to deal with him. So at this point, I’m done. Because I’m crazy. And at this point I’m working at a research company downtown, and I find people for a living. So it was nothing for me to trace her phone number and find out where she lived. And so I drove to her home and I texted her like, would you like to have a conversation? Because I really don’t understand what is going on with you and this dude. And I’m just getting to know him and the other woman is not the role I’m trying to play. So she was like, ok, and I was like, good, because I’m downstairs in front of your building. Which probably scared the hell out of her.
So she came down, and I respected her. And when I saw her, I hated in that moment that my first response was, well that’s not what I expected for her to look like. She was a very fair skinned young lady and she looked young. And she told me that she had just lost his baby. So after I got done with that situation, I was like, nope. I don’t want any more relationships with men in hip hop. Because also, I was very much feeling like a groupie and I was like I don’t want to do that.
But then I met the DJ at this club I had been going to for over a year. And I had never seen him, and if I had seen him, I wasn’t paying attention because I was there to get free. I was there to juke and purge. I was there with girls who came out in heels and I was there in my Adidas and my jerseys, and I’m about to get buck. It was where I would go to remember the part of myself who used to start recording from the radio and fall asleep, and as soon as I would hear the click, I would wake up, and flip the tape over and keep recording so I could make my own little mixes. Like that’s what I did in high school. And my connection to my brother was through hip-hop. He was a DJ too, and hip hop was all we had. We didn’t have no deep conversations – we had the Roots CD, head bob, nod, yep, that’s what’s up.
And the DJ I began dating had the exact same name as my brother, and he was a DJ like my brother, and the relationship became the most intense transformative experience of my life because it took awhile before it registered to me that it was really about the fact that I really missed having a relationship with my brother. And that my connection to my man came through him being on the tables playing the music that I knew, music that took me back to a time when I knew something of my innocence. But we didn’t know that. And by the time we knew that, we had already killed each other emotionally. And so that’s what made it so hard because it was like, if I had known that five years ago …
MW: Five years you were with him?
Anonymous: Six. So I went through a whole lot with that. I was also searching spiritually and I felt like I had gone through all these religions and it was like hitting a brick wall, and on the other side of the wall, was the devil. It was like if you’re playing Super Mario Brothers and you pass through all these levels and now you have to fight King Koopa. And it’s like, aagggggh! I want the breakthrough but do I really want to fight King Koopa? And the devil was the fact that, I’m about to have a breakthrough but the person I’m in a relationship is fighting it. And he just wanted me to come back to the place that I was and I didn’t want to go backwards. So I felt the depression and the sadness setting in. And it didn’t help that I’d been with this person for five years and yet he maintained that he did not want it called a relationship – we would be out in public and I was just known as ‘his girl.’ I had completely lost my own identity. People didn’t call me by my name. But his official response was that we were just cool. We were not together.
MW: Did you live together?
Anonymous: It felt like we lived together because we were always at his place or my place just about every day.
MW: How did you deal with that… I mean, how did you accept that?
Anonymous: Because after going through what I had gone through in my marriage, and then the guy after my marriage, and then there had been some random guys that I had slept with, and then there was this other MC – at that point I was just giving it away because I felt like, I don’t know what I stand to gain trying to be in a relationship because it doesn’t look like any man I know is interested in monogamy. And that’s what I’m interested in. And I’m like, why even try the relationship thing? And at this point, I’ve already been physically intimate with a man, so it was like, okay fine. If I’m in the mood tonight then… because that’s all you really want. You’re not even really going to treat me like a woman anyway so let’s just get it over with. That’s how I felt. Let’s get it over with so we can go talk music, or maybe make some music, or just have pizza – I don’t care. You know, I was no longer myself.
Because who I really am… I’ve always been a little rough around the edges because I was a very naïve, trusting, loving young girl who constantly got abused by people I thought were supposed to… I done been spat on, I’ve been slapped, I’ve been consistently molested by girls and that led me to… how can I say… enabling that behavior with other girls. Mind you it started when I was five – by the time I was twelve, I was pretty much looking at myself like a child molester. Because I’m like, I’m pretty much trying to get this girl to give me her draws and I’m ten years old in the back of the school bus. I don’t have a context for that. I don’t have anything for that. I know that this is inappropriate but I don’t know what to call it because I got prepared for what to do if an older person touches me in an in appropriate way. I know what to call it when it’s a grown man trying to touch me. I don’t know what to call it when it’s girls my age trying to touch me and now I’m stimulated so now I’m touching. I don’t know what to call that. I don’t have a language for it. And now that it’s happened, I’m feeling way too guilty to talk to anybody or ask anybody, because I feel like a monster. So by the time I was 12, I pretty much thought that I was Satan’s child. And that I was beyond being loved by God. So everything after that point was performance. I performed my way through my life. The only thing that made me confront myself was poetry.
My behavior was really erratic. I was angry, I was stimulated, I was having a sexual identity crisis, I fell in love for the first time with a high school sweetheart and thought that I was going to have his babies and marry him. Because I had a really skewed understanding of men, sex, marriage and relationships. And friendships. All of those things. I have one person who has been in my life for 15 years as a friend, who for most of those fifteen years, was in love with me. And we are still friends. He just recently got married. But before he got married, I pretty much had to just give it to him. Because I was like, you need to not go into your marriage wondering, what if? We had this conversation and I was like, so do you think you’re going to leave her and be with me? Because I’m not going to be the mistress. And he had been with her since like college. We had only dated for a small amount of time and I broke up with him because I was like, I need a friend. I just really need a friend.
So anyway, as I got older and I was going through all of these emotions, I knew at some point I needed to see how out of control I was. And there’s a moment where you decide, I’m not ready to get off the rollercoaster. And you’re kind of get scared when you’ve been on the rollercoaster for so long, like, what the heck is going to happen when it stops?? Then what do I do?
MW: Because then you have to deal with yourself.
Anonymous: Yeah. And I’ve had so many conversations with women while working at Be Present – it’s a practice that I carry with me in my home, in order to heal the relationship with my mother, in order to be open in front of my parents without being apologetic, and also to transition back into being one of Jehovah’s Witnesses – I had to confront all of who I was, and all of the herstory of who I was. I realized that I kept running into relationships with people who treated me in the way my mother treated me that I didn’t like. I even dealt with it with my husband. And I felt connected to him in a way that I had never felt connected to anyone. I thought we were going to be married and in love forever. We both had a similar dream about our children, about an experience of us grocery shopping with kids in tow. But then I realized that it was all an illusion. And it was like, guess what, this illusion hurts more than reality. Just let it go.
MW: Because at least with reality – it can be painful but you don’t have to struggle with it. But with an illusion, there are so many things you have to reinterpret to make mean what you need them to mean. You’ll be like, see, he didn’t really mean that, what he really meant was… or, see, you need to understand that his mother didn’t love him and…. And his first girlfriend… … and you just find yourself explaining all the time. With reality, it hurts but it’s like, okay, it is what it is, now I can go study.
Anonymous: Yes!!! With my ex, I was always explaining his drinking like, he didn’t really mean that, he drinks and…
MW: And you get tired of justifying them to other people…
Anonymous: I know, right! After awhile I would just say, you know what, we’re good! We’re fine! (laughs) And while dealing with my ex, in 2007, I had my first psychotic break. My diagnosis transitioned from being ‘major depression’ to full blown’ bipolar disorder.’ I was hallucinogenic. And once you have a full blown psychotic episode and you start hallucinating and you’re no longer present in reality, you have a heightened experience as opposed to feeling depressed or sad. So inside of mania, you are super woman, on top of the world, I can do anything, everything’s coming up roses, sun is shining. But in reality, it’s raining on top of your head.
Anonymous: (Laughs) Womp, Womp, Womp. You thought you had clothes on? Girl you booty naked. So I went through that experience, but I had something spiritually happen to me inside of it. So I told him I couldn’t have sex with him no more, I stopped cigarettes, I stopped smoking weed. And we talking somebody who was getting like, maybe a quarter pound a week.
MW: So he was your best friend if ya’ll smoking together because that is heavy bonding…
Anonymous: Girl, the smoking, the drinking, the sex, the hip-hop, the movies… he don’t have a job. I’m working, so I buy his groceries, my groceries, he hangs out in my crib to escape his landlord who he lives with because he ain’t paid his rent in a year… the realness. And I’m just like, I know you still in love with your ex. I hate you because you get up out of my bed and you walk to the front of my crib and you whisper to her on the phone like I’m so stupid that I don’t know that’s who you’re talking to. I always know when you’re talking to her because your voice changes when you talk to her. Don’t we all know? Like, we know. But at this point, I’m like, this is going to be any relationship I’m in. Either I can deal with it…
MW: So you just thought that’s what relationships were? And it had not occurred to you that you were commanding this type of treatment? That you were in control and choosing people who would do this to you until you worked through how you felt about yourself, and drew those lines within yourself that said, no I deserve better than this, I’m a person, you can’t do this shit to me?
Anonymous: I may have said those things in anger, in an argument and then was like, okay fine. And then my legs flew open. (Pause) But… (laughs) saying that just triggered straight up mental and physical… there’s something that happens in the body when you are used to oral sex and then you have no sex and your body’s like, don’t remember that part. Fast forward that part because you don’t need to remember that!
MW: Wait, so are you celibate now?
Anonymous: I am celibate.
MW: So are you waiting for your husband, or just for the next person you fall in love with?
Anonymous: Until I’m married. But at this point, I don’t think I want a relationship.
MW: So you’re celibate indefinitely?
Anonymous: At this point, my prayer to God is, if there comes a time and it makes sense not just for me, but I can wholly be in a relationship with that person and that person can accept me for who I am and I can be in a relationship without referencing past relationships, and putting issues on them that aren’t them, then may that be Your will and let it be so. And help me know when that time comes. But until that point, I really want to focus on being spiritual in all the ways that I thought that I would be before all these things happened.
MW: I want to go back to something you said earlier. You said that when you and your husband were courting, he took you on carriage rides and all of that, and you said it made you feel like a woman. What do you do for yourself to feel like a woman now, since you’re celibate?
Anonymous: Being celibate makes me feel like a woman, because I own my body. And it’s the first time in my life that I can remember – because I keep trying to remember myself before sexuality, because I learned it so very young. And I remember all of the things that made me feel guilty or dirty – I can remember all of that. But I can’t remember before that. With the exception of when my grandmother taught me how to tie my shoes. That and picking dandelions out of the yard and my grandmother taught me how to suck the nectar out of the flowers. And I used to play in the dirt. I used to play with caterpillars as a child. They were my friends. Caterpillars and ants, oh we kicked it.
But I felt like, for so long, having sex was the only way I was ever going to get love from a man. And I had this epiphany the other day – I was like, if I do meet someone, if I do have the wherewithal to have some kind of shift in my life and I’m with someone who’d I’d like to move toward marriage with – I was like, I’d like to find someone who can marry me and for six months, just meditate and talk to me but not have sex with me.
MW: Like a really long period of foreplay, making love to your soul…
Anonymous: Yeah. And I think that would just be complete healing for a man to come in and say, Baby if you had no other half, if you only existed from the navel up, you should know that everything from the navel up is valuable. And when I thought about that, that’s what let me know that I’m different. Even though my body is like, its summer time and it’s that time…the birds are singing and the bees are buzzing and the flowers are flowering… my body has a mind of its own. I have medication that I take every day but I didn’t take it today because I’m fasting and when my body wants to cleanse, it tends to skip my medication. But my body also knows that if I stop taking medication, I’m more likely to have a …
MW: A lark?
Anonymous: Who says lark? That’s like the oldest word in the world.
MW: (Laughs) Whatever.
Anonymous: But I don’t trust my body. Because I remember that I pretty much hit rock bottom in my relationship with the DJ when I started getting intimate with his friends.
MW: You mean having sex with his friends?
Anonymous: Umm hmm. His friends wanted to do me and I had no self esteem to say no.
MW: Was this behind his back or was it like, his friends were hitting his ex?
Anonymous: No we were with each other but without the context of being “in a relationship.” And then he came back and he went through this whole thing – because he has this thing that he does when he says he needs clarity. Clarity is his word that he uses for I just want to be able to curse you out and dog you out and argue with you and then two or three days later I’ll call you and apologize.
MW: That’s clarity?
Anonymous: That’s what that word means to him. It was his manipulative tool. So what happened was, I just stopped feeling. It was like, okay I’m in love with you but you don’t want to call it a relationship, and you keep telling me that you don’t know if you can be faithful to just one person, but you’re super, uber jealous if I look at somebody and say hello… so that’ a behavior I don’t understand. I grew up with a mom and a dad, and a father who doesn’t cheat, drink, smoke or curse, so I don’t know about the world in that way. I don’t know about men in that way. I know there are different types of men with different ideals, and some are monogamous and some are not, but whatever the monogamous road is, I obviously don’t have the navigator to that particular area. I’m stuck over here in polygamy world where dudes are like, I don’t have a conscience. So, what am I supposed to do? And I the local whore or am I the groupie, or…?
MW: Have you ever considered that as a sign that maybe you’re supposed to have more than one mate? That maybe you need more than one man to support you?
Anonymous: (Laughs) Well this is the other thing that happened, was that I came to the conclusion that I think I wanted a polygamous household. I think I wanted a community. During the time that I separated from the DJ and I was like, I need to get back to a spiritual foundation and went cold turkey on everything, for about three or four months I was at my parent’s house and I was very frail. I was being juggled around the mental health system so I was on several different medications that left me really crazy and not stable. And I was just nuts. And during that time, he met this other person. And when I did come back and transition back to being on the scene, and I wound up moving back north and I was freaking out about not having him in my life, and I think it was one of those moments where it was like, oh I think somebody else is going to get him and I don’t want that to happen. Imma just have to sell my soul and go back out here! And that’s pretty much how I felt. I was pretty much telling God that I need this man.
MW: I prefer him over every principle that I thought…
Anonymous: That I hold true and I thought made me who I was. And so that’s the choice I made, and I paid dearly for it. So I own that. So when I came back, there was this chick in the picture. And he was like, when I first saw her I was feeling her, but she was kind of wigging, so now we just cool. But I felt there was this sexual tension between them and she definitely was like… it seemed like she just wanted to conquer him. So we all started kicking it together and I just feel like it was a free love experience. It was like the 70s – people were just smoking weed and having unprotected sex. Everybody felt like conventional methods of relationships didn’t apply to them because they were revolutionaries and they were against the system and traditional relationships were all part of the system. I would overhear these conversations and it was just like, lame. Even if I was around in the 70s I would not have been on that.
And that used to always be his thing to say to me—you are such a 70s black woman, blah blah blah. And I was like, I don’t know what that means to you but it definitely means something different to me. I am a soulful woman and I do have an old soul, but I have also learned a lot of hard lessons through sheer naïveté on my part.
So after we started hanging with this chick – I don’t think I was attracted to her in the beginning except for in the way that he was attracted to her – I felt like the only way for me to get some peace in this situation – at least from my end – was if we had a ménage and got it over with. So I was like, okay, let’s just blow it up because she wants you, you like her, I’m here, and my body changed again because I was on medication so he met the big booty version of me and he was like, oh, when you coming back over? (laughs) So it happened and he discovered in that particular moment that he couldn’t have sex with her, he could only have sex with me. Literally, he would try it and then he would come to me and be lost. So she got upset. So I had to help her out because I’m like, she gon’ be really pissed off if she done had a ménage and she got nothing. So I did my thing and he got intimidated and he was like, okay, I’m leaving. And I was like, what you mean you leaving? How you gon’ leave, this your party? It was his birthday. So that was a bust. So she left because she had to go get her child and me and him were going at it all day.
MW: You mean fighting?
Anonymous: No, not fighting. (laughs) And she came back home like, are ya’ll for real? Still?! She was like, I’m about to put some stuff on the altar! And that was when something clicked in me. I’m like, I’m in her house, in her room, in her bed, she has an altar in her room and she’s actively practicing Yoruba – which is a religion I don’t know a whole lot about – so that was also another intersection for me of a woman and sexuality and voodoo, and me having no knowledge. Because I don’t know what she’s doing on her altar…
MW: And why he couldn’t perform with her but you could…
Anonymous: Right! All of that. It was all very… I learned a lot about spirits. Then I started having visions of stuff going on with his neighbors that lived behind him and it got really vivid and very scary and then it got to the point where we both having experiences in his room. He kept telling me how sometimes he would be lying on his bed and it would feel like something would push down on him and he would wake up to an empty room and it would freak him out. So a person who was thinking clearly would have taken the hint that maybe she should take her leave and not put herself in that situation again. I had had an experience where I had been in his room and literally prayed to God like, something’s wrong, please get me out of here. And I literally felt like an angel carried me out of his house. I felt like I was getting trapped, like if you were in labyrinth and people were closing doors behind me. That’s how I felt. And yet I still kept going back. You know the saying goes, oh what a tangled web we weave? I literally wove myself into the black widow’s web. And it all came to a head when the year that I moved back in with my parent’s house, I had an experience where it was like, reality started to shift and change. Like I experienced shape shifting and seeing the room augmented and seeing different manifestations of evil spirits.
And then I started having the experience that I was pregnant. I was never sure if I was actually pregnant, other than, that’s what my gut was telling me and I was having crazy things happening, like bleeding for days, much longer than a period. And I was passing tissue and stuff. And eventually I was like, I need to go to the emergency room. And it was really funny because, that particular night, I think he had actually been with her.
The year before all this happened, we had been actively trying to have a child. And as that process went on, we kept back cycling through the pains of our relationship, so the fights kept getting more intense. And the more intense the fighting got, the more I wound up in the hospital having hallucinations and episodes and breakdowns.
So the last breakdown that I had that year, he came to my house drunk early in the morning. And I hadn’t been sleeping. And I know that when I stop sleeping, I’ve entered into a manic state. And when I haven’t slept in two days, I know I need to be in the hospital by the third day. Because by the third day, I’m no longer in reality. Which is normal for any human being who hasn’t slept in 72 hours, whether you have a diagnosis or not. You might sleep for an hour but it feels like you slept for seven hours. Time gets off. So anyway, he won’t let me sleep because he keeps ringing the doorbell and I come down to the door and my whole body is shaking and I was like, I need you to leave and let me go to sleep. It ends up turning into a domestic situation, like us brawling out in front of my crib. And I know that he’s not attacking me, fighting me, because I know he really could have hurt me if he would have. And he was the one who walked away with a bunch of scars because I was kicking the crap out of his face. I came down with a flashlight and I literally opened the door and hit him over the head with the flashlight. And so it just turned into something I thought I saw in a movie. It was so real – I was doing it – but I was like, this is not my life. This is the one thing I said I never wanted to ever do. First of all, I’ve always maintained that I would never put my hands on a man because I had more respect for men that that. If he puts his hands on me, I can leave, because I’m not going toe to toe with no man. And I just remember seeing his face the next day, just all of these knots.
So I started praying. This is straight up devil unleashed. This doesn’t make any sense. None of this makes any sense. And I’m dealing with something much bigger than me, and I keep getting sick – not because of mental health issues but because something is spiritually wrong and I need to address it and figure it out. He said he was coming to check on me because he knew I was going to get sick and he had been sitting outside my crib all day, and he had been calling me. I wasn’t answering his calls and then he started ringing the bell. I think at some point I buzzed him in but when he got to the front door, I started having this fear that he was coming to kill me. I was half in reality and half out and he’s beating on the door and turning the handle and I’m freaking out. I got in the shower because the water is where I go when I’m afraid. I’ve done that my entire life. I go get in the bathtub and turn on the water and or put my hands under the water and that’s what soothes me. At this point, all of these things come to a head. And the next day I felt uber guilty because I just beat up somebody I love…
MW: And he must have really loved you too…
Anonymous: Which is what I said. I was like, he wouldn’t have even come back if he didn’t love me. The other half of that story was that I felt like he came back to punish me, like he was intentionally trying to push me over the edge. And he successfully did that. And I finally came to the conclusion that there were evil spirits at work. Like, it seemed like a spell. It seemed like someone had done a binding spell.
This woman I worked with at the art center, she hired him. And before she hired him she asked me – is there anything I should know about him? Because she thought he was kind of weird. And I was like, well, he does do good work. He’s a hard worker. But he drinks, and sometimes he drinks too much. And she wound up firing him after several violent displays he had on the premises of the job. But of course he said it was my fault because I’d given her the wrong impression by telling her he occasionally drinks too much.
And in the process of doing the work of understanding myself and accepting what was mine and owning what I did – I realized I never really had the right to say anything to him about drinking because I medicated with weed. And it would be different just to say, I toke because I got pain or because I think herbs are healing, or to get over my writer’s block—but it was totally, I smoke weed so that I can deal with the fact that I’m in a relationship with an alcoholic and I feel like it’s okay that he makes me feel like crap and I’m still giving it to him and I’m enjoying that.
MW: Whoa, that was deep…
Anonymous: But it took a long time before I could have an honest epiphany with myself and say it out loud. It was like, okay, so that is your truth, but now what are you going to do about it? So that’s how I ended up at 28 years old in a nursing home telling myself, I have to be rehabilitated. I don’t want to be addicted to anything.
Also I had a cervical cancer scare, which was another thing I knew was coming because the last time I was intimate with my husband, I went to the gynecologist to get a pap because I was like, something’s wrong because I’m in so much pain when I have sex. And she said, what size is he? And I said, I’ve been married to the man for two years so size is not the problem.
So fast forward six years after I have my first complaint, I went back to the clinic because I thought I was pregnant by my ex. And the doctor was so sad because when I went to them six years before, my labs had come back abnormal. But they lost my file and they had been trying to call me on a number I didn’t have any more. So all this time that I’ve been with this other dude, what was really going on was that I had active HPV. And because it had been so long, I had dysplasia and I was in the second stages of cervical cancer.
MW: You are now?
Anonymous: No, this was back in 2010. And what they told me at Cook County Hospital was, well, you’re at stage 2 and we usually don’t do anything until around stage 3 or 4. We’re just going to watch it. So I immediately went to my favorite health food store and got on Cat’s Claw, and I started drinking Kava Kava to help relax me. Because what I know from having a strong family history of cancer is that stress makes it grow faster. And I was certainly in a stressful relationship. But by the time I had my next pap and came back from the follow up, it was all clear.
MW: That’s wonderful! You healed yourself?
Anonymous: I healed myself. But the first thing I had to do was, I cut back on my smoking. And when I was away from him, I smoked way less.
MW: You stopped smoking cigarettes or weed?
Anonymous: Cigarettes. I wasn’t worried about the weed. I was definitely like, well, it’s time to get some herb. I heard weed and cancer go hand in hand. (laughs)
MW: What experience have you come through that you could advise other women about?
Anonymous: The journey to self love. And I feel like once I got to a certain place in that journey, the women just started to come to me. And it’s still happening. And I’m grateful for that because I feel like persons who endure, persons who are survivors, persons who fight for the chance to not just survive but then to go on and live, do possess something valuable to mankind. And that the person who comes through that and comes through without haughtiness or inbred fear or paranoia of letting people in, that those are the people who we regard as healers. Because every person in my life who I regard as a healer is someone who came though something tremendous, and embarked on a journey to self love.
MW: What are you still dealing with that you need advice about?
Anonymous: I am a woman who wants love and wants to love, but does not trust her body to anyone, a man or woman. The rape is too fresh. My reproductive organs need more time than my brain does. My brain is the calm one in the conversation and my reproductive organs are like, we know that happened but… we’re running out of eggs, you’re pushing 32 – are we gonna be a mom? People are constantly having kids around me and their kids are latching on to me like starfish on a rock. I’m like, can you get your child offa me please? And I love children. My mom is in a difficult place processing me saying, I don’t think I’m going to get married, I think I’m going to be single and focus on my spirituality.
But it’s very hard, because I find I can get attracted to someone and their energy, and then the guy is standing in my face and it’s like, this is not what I meant to happen, please get out of my face you fine man! And so I need help with controlling my energy because the longer I’m celibate, the stronger it gets. It feels like a gravitational pull. They’re like, girl, we know it’s been a long time. You need this!
Ultimately I need somebody who can hold me inside of the energy that is me, with all of my powers, abilities, compassion, sensitivities. I know we have terms like magic and telepathy and clairvoyance, but really it just all means a person who’s incredibly sensitive to energy. Because I’m not trying to manipulate energy as a way of maintaining control. I’m just trying to be a huge emitter of love. And that’s all I want to be known for. That’s all I want people to feel. Because people have always treated my sensitivity like some sort of defect. I have so much compassion that I almost feel like I should apologize because it’s hard for people to deal with—and that was something my ex couldn’t deal with. He was like, I can’t deal with how much you hug people. And I was like, I’m sorry but I can’t not be that way because it makes you uncomfortable. I will always love all the people who I ever loved. That’s my blessing and my curse. I just don’t stop loving people and I don’t feel like I need to, either.
MW: But did you ever say to him, if you’re my mate then you’re my mirror, and if these qualities in me make you uncomfortable, maybe you have something you’re repressing… like, does he have an inner happy go lucky?
Anonymous: Oh yes. Totally. And one time he was going to get ready to go on tour and I was worried that he was going to leave me and that he couldn’t grasp how much I loved him and that it was all going to be in vain. And I was very intense and he was like, where the heck did you learn how to love like that? He was like, I don’t understand how you love. It’s so much. He had never been loved wholly before. Nobody had ever just loved him, or he had forgotten love. And as somebody who was a man who was estranged from both of his parents and had not worked through his mother son issues, it just all kind of melted. It just kind of melted.
MW: So now that he’s your ex, do you still get the urge to love him in that same way? Since you know he needs it, and you know you’re the only one who does it so deeply?
Anonymous: I used to. But now I just pray for him.
MW: I hear women saying that men fall in love with their ability to love, but then as soon as the women become “their women”, that gift then repels them and they feel like we’re giving something of theirs away. Like we’re too naïve to understand that men just want to fuck us or manipulate us. It’s always from a place of, what’s wrong with you, why don’t you see, as opposed to just respecting this very powerful innocence. People look at that love and innocence like it’s a weakness, but it’s extremely powerful.
Anonymous: Yeah… and also I think my ex had pretty much been broken by male on male relationships and pornography. I blame pornography for the failure of so many relationships, including my own. Because I definitely battle pornography in my life because it was the only thing that made me feel like I’m not the biggest freak in the world. Just watching it, I felt relieved that there were so many things going on that I didn’t do. Then getting with the guys who had been watching porn for years, you get to the point where they’re like robots. It’s like, boo, hello? Hey! Guess what? I’m real.
MW: If you do this, I will not automatically make this sound…
Anonymous: (Laughs) I will not.
MW: Is there anything else you want to say? And last advice you want to give women? Any last nuggets?
Anonymous: My advice to all women is to do their work emotionally and to not be afraid to reach out to other women to support you in that, no matter how ugly it looks at first. Because the process of taking the responsibility and having the willingness and the humility to do the work of healing yourself is what’s beautiful. And that ultimately will be the beauty that you find at the end of sorting through all the ugliness. That’s it.
MW: That's wonderful, thank you.
Anonymous: You're welcome.
"I don’t fear death. It’s sort of like another dimension, another level to this existence that I’m having. And I also believe in coming back. And so if my work is not done, I’ll be back." [an interview]Read Now
MW: You appear to be such a strong, confident woman. Where does that light come from?
Anonymous: That’s a really good question. Let me take a minute and meditate on that. Because what I feel like what you’re asking me to do is see myself which is something that I don’t often do. I just move and do. To be honest I think that I came here with this light that you’re speaking of. I didn’t ever think of it as like, confidence. It’s almost like something inside of you that makes you do what you feel like you have to do. And so for other people that might appear as confidence but for me, I’m just doing what has to be done.
MW: What do you have to do? What has to be done?
Anonymous: The short answer would be effect change. That would be the short answer.
MW: I’m cool with the long answer…
Anonymous: (Laughs) Oh, ok. So the long answer… um… I’m here to reach people, to bring people back to a place that we’re all striving to get to as human beings. And we’re so far away from that now with the way the world is set up. I remember as a young girl thinking, who did this? Who orchestrated it this way? Nothing made sense to me – people weren’t happy, it just didn’t make sense. And I thought, why are we doing this? And instead of just wondering why are we doing it this way, I thought, why don’t we change it? I don’t know if that’s the difference… but I know I felt like a powerful person. I felt like enough power existed inside of me and enough power existed inside the people I knew, that we could still do whatever we wanted to do, and that we could change the system into something that makes sense for more people. And I think part of that change is me having a voice.
MW: So that’s how you see yourself effecting change, is by speaking out?
Anonymous: That’s definitely one of the ways. Speaking out and using every way to speak out. For me, speaking out doesn’t just mean using my mouth necessarily. It could be using my visual art, or through dance and expression or, creating a production that makes people think, or just, you know, casual conversation that makes people think or just reaching out in different ways. But yeah, I have to speak the truth or the truth as I see it. Because I feel like I just can’t be quiet. I think my parents would say that I definitely came here to say something, or speak something. They tell a story about me being four months old and they came into the room and I was like tussling. Now, I was around four months so they knew I couldn’t sit up or run around or talk – any of that stuff – and so I was just having what looked like a nightmare and my mom stood over the crib and she didn’t say, what’s wrong? but she just thought it and then I said, dreaming. So she backed up from the crib like whoa, what is going on with this infant who just said the word, Dreaming’! Not Mama or Dada – and as far as doctors were concerned I wasn’t supposed to be saying anything – but I said the word dreaming so clearly that she could make it out. And so for her, I was a weird child from the beginning. But they always say – fast forward – since I started doing poetry and stuff my parents say that they always knew I had something to say. And I don’t think about fear often. I just think about what must be done.
MW: I was reading the Autobiography of Malcolm X. It just struck me how many times he said he was not at all afraid to die, even with children. It was really shocking to me. Are you like that? When you say you have to do what needs to be done, are you willing to take it to the ultimate?
MW: I wish there was a word for the face you’re making right now. (Laughs) Because the look on your face is like, you don’t even have to finish asking that question. Because the answer is hell yeah.
Anonymous: Pretty much. And that’s been something that’s been with me awhile too, not just since I’ve been an adult. I remember even as a child being very unafraid of death. I just don’t fear it. My thing is, death is a natural part of life. When we come into life, death is the other part of it. We came into life and also with life we accept death is coming. But it’s all in how you view death. And I view death in such a way that it’s not the end. And because I view it like that, I don’t fear it. It’s sort of like another dimension, another level to this existence that I’m having. And I also believe in coming back. And so if my work is not done, I’ll be back, don’t worry about it! (laughs) See you on the other side, I’ll be back. So to me, it’s nothing to fear. What’s most important is doing what has to be done. I understand that the journey that I’m on is a long journey. Our humanity is a long journey. Existence is a microsecond in the far vastness of humanity. We don’t know how long we’ve been in existence. Our little moment is part of a bigger moment and that takes some of us dying in a sense for that to happen. I believe in it enough to know… what’s most important is that I do the work I have to do and if I die doing that, it’s nothing to fear.
MW: I understand that’s your philosophy for the end of your life, but is that also your philosophy during your life? Because it occurred to me the other day that there are certain things I want for my life, like to be smaller and healthier… you know, just certain personal changes. Like if your body is the apparatus you’re given when you come to this planet, there might be certain habits or tendencies that you have to kill to become who you want to become. It’s like the machine can create itself. So do you find that you die in life too? Are you consciously different from who you used to be or have you always been who are? Do you find that you evolve or do you direct your changes?
Anonymous: I think it’s both. I think I’m evolving. I think I die small deaths. It’s funny having this conversation about confidence and all of this because at a certain point, I thought I was so confident and self assured and I was very grounded in who I was – and then through being married and dealing with my husband, it really shook all of that up. It made me think, who am I, where am I? Where is the person I thought I was? And so that experience was really symbolic of the small deaths you’re speaking of. And when these small deaths happen, you sort of come back stronger. And so I think that’s the other thing too – my soul already feels like it’s died so many times before I got here, and then this time I’m even that more serious. Because I don’t know how many lives I have left, so to speak. It’s that much more serious and I just have to get it done. Now I know what it’s all about and I just have to fight. At the same time, now I’m directing it too as I’m evolving.
MW: So, when you say your marriage shook you up – is that something you want to talk about?
Anonymous: I can. It’s not something I shy away from talking about. I don’t shy away from things like that because they’ve brought me to the place I am now and I’ve learned so much from them. So it’s like, okay, I’ll share my experience and let other people learn something too. But what shook me up is, I thought I loved myself in a certain way that I wouldn’t allow people to treat me less than how I loved myself. But what happened was in this relationship, I got so caught up in him and this whole idea of marriage and all of these things that were not me. I sort of got caught up in all of these external things. And so those external things caused me to not see my value. And before I knew it I was in something where I was disappearing.
And I remember – it’s funny – before I got married I had this ceremony where sisters came in and they bathed parts of my body and spoke words of wisdom to me, and I remember one sister in particular – she said, in all that you do – or in being married – don’t forget yourself. Take care of yourself because nobody else is going to take care of you. Look out for yourself. And those words stuck with me because, for one, it was kind of strange. It was like, I’m getting married, what do you mean nobody’s going to look out for me? My husband’s going to look out for me. It was like she knew something else. And then as I got into it, I began to realize that I was the person who was giving in so many different directions but there was not really a lot being poured back into me. And I think that – plus the sort of overall breaking down of his character – brought me to a really low place. I felt I wasn’t beautiful, and I had never really had those types of issues before. I thought I wasn’t worthy. I thought I had to sort of always prove something to him. And I think I was proving it to myself too. And these were things I thought I was already supposed to know so it was like, wait a minute! (laughs) It is a little scary to me that I thought I was in this place of security and self-love, but then I wasn’t actually there, and then I had to really get there and do the work. But the scariest part is just that I didn’t know. I didn’t realize I wasn’t where I thought I was.
And it makes me realize that you can’t get to these places any other way except through dealing with self. There’s no other, no in-between. There’s no showing it and going through the world and making it seem like you’re confident and you have everything together. There’s only one way to get there and you have to actually… get there. You have to do the work and deal with self and face the things you‘re scared of facing. And really love yourself. All of you. Good and bad, if there is such a thing. I don’t know if I believe in good and bad, but anyway…so did that answer your question?
MW: Totally. That was awesome.
Anonymous: I think that’s the other thing too, going back to your question before about confidence. I think now I really do know the reasons why I value myself. I think before I valued myself for reasons like, oh I look good or I’m smart. But now I value myself because I am. I just am. I’m in this world, I have work to do here, and all those things – beauty, intellect, a good heart – all those things are important too but I value myself in other ways that are beyond what other people can validate for me. So now, when I walk and I look confident or assured, it’s because it’s something that’s coming from so deep inside of me that no one can shake it up anymore. Or I believe that, anyway (laughs). Live and learn and life will teach you something else.
And I think it’s magnetic for people. My experience when I go out in the world is that people are drawn to me. All different types of people – old white people, men, women, younger people, kids – everybody says there’s this light. And like I said, there’s only one way to get there. You gotta do the work with yourself. You gotta confront and deal with issues that are scary that you don’t really want to deal with but that make you a better person and make you better to deal with the world around you.
MW: With everything that you know about yourself, are you looking for a mate? Or does that matter to you at all?
Anonymous: Um… I do want a mate, yeah. Because I feel like I’ll be able to be more fulfilled in life, meaning I’ll have a partner with whom to do these things that I came to do. I’ll have someone else’s support. And I love children. And I never saw myself in a relationship without another person to help me out with the child. Those are important things and I do want them. But now, am I actively searching for a man? No, I’m not. I feel like it will come. I’m just not concerned. I’ve never had a huge issue finding a man if I really want one, you know what I’m saying? (Laughs) So I don’t feel like, Aggghhhhh! People try to scare me, like, oh, you’re gonna be by yourself. But I think that’s unrealistic. It’s a choice but I gotta choose right. Because I’ve already been through a situation where I feel like I didn’t necessarily do as well as I could have.
MW: With all that being said, what are your requirements for a mate? Because with your perspective and experience you’ve had with loving yourself, you are in such a beautiful position to choose… I mean so many people choose their mates when they’re young or just – it’s like filling a space – you don’t really think about it. But you are thinking about it. So tell me…
Anonymous: I think one of the benefits of what you’re saying is that you get to know yourself better. And that’s what I was saying – with my first marriage when I was married before, I didn’t really know myself as well as I thought I did. And so I thought he was what I wanted but actually he wasn’t. And also I felt like I was denying certain aspects of myself, and since I was denying certain aspects of myself, I was looking for a man who didn’t have those parts that I was denying. For example, the importance of spirituality in my personal life – so I was looking for men who didn’t have any spiritual background or the same spiritual pull as I did. And so I thought that would be okay somehow because, at the time, I was minimizing the need for spirituality to be prevalent in my own life.
Getting back to your question – what I need in a mate is someone who can respect my purpose in life and equally important is his own purpose in life. I need someone who can understand the spiritual aspect of our existence so that they are not just living and thinking that everything is on this physical plane. Because of the work that I do with myself and other people, I need a mate who acknowledges that and has a clear understanding of that and supports me. That’s so much of what it is – you go out into the world and you’re fighting all these different battles and struggling – and you need somebody who can support you effectively. And that’s what it’s about – I can’t just have any guy because they can’t support me in the ways that I need. Even in small ways – I give so much love out into the world, so I need somebody who knows how to love me, how to give me love in return. Someone who has a good heart, who is dedicated to making a difference in the world. Besides that, on my list is an African man, who has an understanding of African identity, and who is an African person himself. And that’s important too because of how I want to raise my children. Now some of these things – I think I’m growing and learning that there’s a little flexibility in it. You know, like African can viewed at in different ways – or just having some sort of African descent or understanding can be viewed in other ways too – but I would say those are some of the most important. Someone who is my friend. I think that’s just like everybody else, right?
MW: Well, no – I think it depends on the point at which you catch a person. Some people want someone they can trust or someone who makes them laugh, or someone who is a certain height. Makes a certain amount of money. But it sounds like you’re at a different point…
Anonymous: Yeah, and that’s another one – I want someone who is very open and honest and not going lie. Because I feel like I can deal with reality, but you have to give me reality. If we’re in a partnership – a very deep and intimate relationship – let’s not deceive each other. Let’s just be open and bare our souls and say, oh this is still beautiful, you know? I think those are the main things. I like brown skin too (laughs).
MW: And bedroom eyes… (laughs)
Anonymous: Oh yes…
MW: Have you ever had the situation in a relationship – because you were saying that you would hope that you could also be open and honest with your partner – have you ever had a situation where you changed significantly in your relationship? And were you okay acknowledging the ways in which you’d changed to your partner? Because it’s like, you can go into a relationship but you kind of make this deal that you’re going to be who the other person fell in love with and the other person is going to be who you fell in love with forever. But then you go on this however many year journey together. You might stay the same but you might not.
Anonymous: Yeah… I think that in my marriage I changed in certain ways. Because I started out wanting to be very open and honest. I remember at times telling him my every move. It wasn’t so much just reporting it, it was just like, I wanted us to have an open and honest relationship and as part of wanting that, I demonstrated it. So he might ask me about my day and I would run down all these details. I just remember telling so many things about what I was doing and just trying to be open. At a certain point when it wasn’t reciprocated I began to close off and not want to tell him too much, and just kind of keeping things to myself, which was not who I really am. So I stopped being so open. I felt in one way that he didn’t deserve that since he wasn’t reciprocating. So in that way I changed. And I changed in other ways too – but I know if it was so much that I changed, or if it was that I’d never had this experience before, so I didn’t know how I would act. Before, marriage was something that my parents had done and my grandparents – it was something that was away from me, not close to home. So I had all these ideas about how I was going to be as a wife. And so I don’t think I changed myself because I hadn’t been a wife yet, but the ways I thought I was going to be or the things I thought I was going to do – that was very different from how I actually was.
MW: But so much of that is based on the person you marry. Because in order to have an idea of the kind of wife you’ll be, you have to have an idea of the kind of husband you’ll have.
MW: How old are you?
What do you know at 31 that you didn’t know at 21?
Anonymous: Hmmm… so much. I know that I am enough. I know that it’s okay for me to be who I am and not be afraid of myself, to not be afraid of being alone, to not be afraid of things I don’t understand. And that you are everything that you need. You don’t need other people to validate you. That’s one thing that I’ve learned over time – I don’t need people to validate me. And I think that had I learned that at an earlier age, that I wouldn’t have made certain mistakes or I would have learned a little bit faster. But I respect the process of learning and growth.
MW: What woman do you admire most and why?
Anonymous: That’s hard, because it’s hard to choose one woman.
MW: Okay, women.
Anonymous: My grandmother is one woman I admire a whole lot – my mother’s mother. She was a smart young girl who went through school. Her mother had told her to at least make sure she got through school before she started messing with boys. Soon after she graduated she got with someone, became pregnant and had her first child, and then married the man and it didn’t work so well. So she later married my grandfather and had more children. And he was an abusive man – he cheated on her and did so many things. I admire her because she was able to raise beautiful children with love. And she was able to endure. Like, I couldn’t imagine enduring all of that stuff. And she was still so full of love after going through all of these things. I won’t take the time to talk about all of the things I know about that situation – but just the fact that she was still able to be such a beacon of love – like that’s all you would ever know or hear or feel from her, was just love. And I really admire that. I think it’s remarkable. It’s like how they say that there are angels living on earth or these really remarkable human beings. I feel like I knew one and I’m blessed to have known her so closely.
MW: Was she Christian? Where do you think that ability to stick it out came from?
Anonymous: That’s the thing, she wasn’t really Christian Christian, like in a sense where she didn’t go to church every Sunday – or however often. But she had her beliefs based in the creator. She rarely went to church, she was mostly in the house. And that was her life, she just stayed in the house. When my grandfather died they had been married for over 50 years. She took care of him. He had diabetes later in his life and his legs were amputated and she took care of him all the way like a good wife. And he even said some really evil things even at that point. I remember one time I went off on him because I was like, who you think you are with your legs up here and she wiping your little ass…
MW: And that was your grandfather?
Anonymous: Yes! But that’s ridiculous, you can’t do that to people. And so, me being the person I am… but yeah, she stayed with him. And even that is one of the reasons why I admire her. Not necessarily because of the way that she did it, but just the fact that I can’t even fathom that I could do that. It’s like, what?! What do you have to have inside of you to stay? I don’t know… so in a lot of ways I respect her.
Then on the revolutionary side I would say Assata Shakur. I admire her a lot for her will and courage to speak out at time when she did. There’s so many women… like Sojourner Truth – she spoke out about racism and sexism so early, before they were even really terms we throw around the way we do now. And even my father’s mother, for just going out and being a woman who lived her life pretty much for herself. She went out, she took care of her children, she was a single mother at times, but she worked and she owned her houses and she always had nice cars and she was able to travel and go wherever she wanted. And she was really… she was the first vegetarian that I knew and she was really just non-traditional.
And then my aunts who I lost early. My mother’s sisters were dynamic women who were powerful. They were so creative, they did so many things. One was a seamstress and she put on fashion shows and she did all these wonderful things. My other aunt was a woman who spoke her mind and could be with the guys but also she was a lady and had all this jewelry and adornment, and the special moments she shared with me as far as taking me shopping—like the time she took me on a little shopping spree. My other aunt just up and decided to paint one day and she’s a nice artist. And they came together as sisters and started a business, my mom included.
And my mom is just another whole dynamic woman too, that I admire greatly for her courage. She doesn’t ask for anybody’s permission to do anything that she does in her life. She just does it. And she’s been able to do great things – she’s written Sunday school books for the church. I remember at other people’s churches you would get the Sunday school books that they would order but my mom would actually just write them and create them for our church, and she would put on productions, organize weddings… she would create things all the time, make food, dance, write a book about dancing – and she just recently published another book.
There’s just all of these very close to home dynamic women that I admire a whole lot. And outside of that, there are other people that I meet on my path that I admire. So it’s a lot of women. It’s hard for me to say the one I admire most. And it’s all inspiration. Like even going back to our ancestors, Yaa Asantewa and Solitude and Henrietta Davis and Ida B. Wells and all of these very powerful – Safiya Bakari – all these powerful revolutionary women, I respect and I admire too. So the list goes on for that one.
MW: Where do you see yourself at 40?
Anonymous: I see myself really living and enjoying the fullness of who I am and what I came here to do. I see myself really actualizing a lot of things that I’ve been using a lot of the rest of this time to prepare for. And that’s why it’s so important that I work with myself because I want to get to that place where I can fulfill or manifest or actualize the things that I’m supposed to be doing in greater depths. I feel that that’s what I will be doing. Hopefully I will also have a family, hopefully that will be a part of my life too. And learning how to incorporate those things – family and purpose. Hopefully I’ll mesh them well…
MW: What would you tell a woman who automatically feels defensive or insecure around other women?
Anonymous: Hmmm… that’s a good one. I look for the opportunity to talk to women who feel like that because I really don’t think that they understand what they feel toward that other woman. And what I mean by that is that what they feel towards that other woman is what they really feel towards themselves. Because you said women who get…
Anonymous: Right, defensive because of another woman’s presence or beauty or whatever – that’s been an obstacle that I’ve faced with sisters kind of often, and it’s always been very disheartening for me because for me it’s like, aw man, I’m so excited about meeting them. It’s like, oh, wow, you’re beautiful, intelligent, oh wow, this is wonderful! And then they’re like ugh, I can’t stand you! Or throwing hate instead. And they act like I’m trying to encroach on their attention or whatever… so I’ve done different things at different times. Sometimes I’ve tried to lessen my light or make myself sort of invisible so they can feel they have all of the attention that they need, or all the whatever that they need. Because I’ve just decided to not meet that with confrontation or competition. I don’t want to compete with my sisters. I don’t feel like that’s what we’re here to do. The only person I compete with is myself. Because I can be the best me that I can be so I need to just constantly do that. But competing with somebody else is like, you’re running two different races on two different tracks. How am I competing with you? We’re on two different tracks – I’m just running my race over here and you just running yours. So I just would say, I’m not your enemy, I’m your friend. I’m just your reflection. We don’t have to be at odds with each other . We could just lighten up a whole room. We could shine. My beauty or whatever that you feel threatened by is nothing but something that wants to grow inside you more. So you should want to talk to me so you can find out what’s going on with me and I can find out what’s going on with you, so we can share and we can grow, and be peace. Because it’s really something that you want but you feel like you can’t have it because you don’t have it yet. But you can. You can be here and smile and find beauty in all the things around you. You can do that and it feels good. And it only makes you more beautiful. And that’s what you don’t understand. The thing that you’re jealous of is silly because all it is, is love. So if you be love, then the same thing that you feel like I’m getting and you’re not, you would get. So just be love. That’s all (laughs) Just be love, it’s alright. You are just as beautiful, you are just as awesome, you are just as gorgeous – you just gotta act like it.
MW: So what you’re really saying though, is that beauty comes from within. It doesn’t matter how you look or how I look – the reason that I’m beautiful – this is what I hear you saying – is because I’m being love. And that’s why you can be beautiful too.
Anonymous: Absolutely. That’s exactly what I feel. Because I really don’t feel like – I tell this story – I was having this conversation with my mom. I was like, mom, all these guys are attracted and all these people are drawn to me and I don’t know what’s going on! Like, what’s going on? And she was like, hmmm, I don’t know baby. Cause it ain’t like you Halle Berry or nothing! And I just laughed and laughed. Because I’m not Halle Berry, I’m myself, and that’s all I need to be. And that’s enough to pull people, but it’s not even just that – it’s the work that you do with yourself and the choices you make about how you’re going to exist in a world, and I just choose to love. I don’t want to hold hate for people or feel jealousy – I don’t want to feel those lower parts of myself. I choose to channel and to put my best forward. And it makes me feel good and it draws things to me, anything to me that I want. And so I think it’s just a power that you use within yourself.
And also I think that because of that, beauty is a perception. Because what people see of me – like my mom said it ain’t like you Halle Berry or nothing – but that’s what they see. Now I know my flaws. Maybe you could call them flaws – but they’re just a part of the makeup of me. We are just our perfect imperfections. Beauty is just a perception. And because of all the things that are going on inside – the love that you’re channeling and pushing out to other people – it almost makes them see something different. It’s just like how they say that there are no real colors, that our eyes perceive that this table is brown based on how the light bounces around at different angles and reflects back to our eyes – that’s how we see blue as blue or green as green – so if you can understand that about perception then you can also understand why somebody can see something and see beauty. They don’t even see any of the flaws that you see or that you know of. All they see is beauty. I’ve had people tell me that I have a beautiful smile. Now I’ve been self conscious because I have an extra tooth going on up here – it’s like all this extra stuff going on in my mouth – but they tell me over and over again, you have a beautiful smile, you have a beautiful smile. And in my mind I try to make sense of that, like how can that be true? Because I know in my idea of beautiful smiles – I’ve seen beautiful smiles…
MW: But you do have a beautiful smile! It strikes me because it’s so easy—it just slides onto your face. (laughs).
Anonymous: (Laughs) Okay… I’m just saying I think its perception. And I think that whatever people see that causes that perception comes from within.
MW: Okay, so this next one is kind of a big question. What are your spiritual/ religious beliefs?
Anonymous: You know that’s a big question!
MW: I know. But people need to hear you answer so you need to speak on it.
Anonymous: (Drinks water) Oh gosh. Wow, so… I love this question. Although it’s very big. My spiritual beliefs are – well I’ll start by saying how I became introduced. I feel like all beings are introduced to spirituality before they even get to this place. So I feel like that happened. And I feel like there’s always been this connection that I’ve had with a higher power, or with a higher energy that resonates in an omnipresent way, like always and everywhere. I’ve always felt that way. But then I grew up in a Christian household – that’s where everything started. But even though it was labeled Christian, my parents were very revolutionary in a spiritual sense because even their Christian walk, they broke the boundaries with how they put everything in these boxes. I feel like all religions have these boxes and these boxes limit us. And I think in a lot of ways, they are stepping stones which we are supposed to transcend.
I think at a certain point in humanity that we came so far from the creator that we all knew – because that knowing that you come here with somehow fades as we grow up and get conditioned to this world. But at a certain point I really believe that it stayed with us for a longer time. And I think as humanity, we pull away from that. And the way to get us back is to remind us of our humanity. Because that’s all spirituality is really about, is about being a human. But people don’t understand what being a human is so we have to have this other thing called religion or spirituality to help to remind you. I think religion was formed in such a way where, maybe it had good intentions in the beginning but that can be up for dispute. I don’t necessarily know and I don’t necessarily know that it matters, but I think that at a certain point it was a way to keep us. Like, okay, love your neighbor, remember that this is what you’re supposed to do. Don’t kill, don’t steal, don’t do this, don’t do that. It was here to remind us of those human things, and also to remind us that there is something that connects us all and is bigger than us all, and that is us all at the same time. Something to remind us. It seems like humans have a short memory. It becomes very important to teach future generations and pass on tradition and pass on these things to help people remember as a humanity, because we’re all just traveling this one journey together. So I think that’s how religions really started. But because of a lot of things – the perversion of humanity as well – because that’s a part of it too – we’re not just this one thing , this one beautiful thing – but I think we began to pervert it for different reasons and that’s when it became something that it wasn’t supposed to be.
But even in that, I think religion is a way to get you to a place of understanding, oneness, or understanding love in a more full way…understanding how to treat your neighbor – I find these are consistent in most religions – almost all, I dare say. And going back to my parents – even though I grew up in a Christian household – they were very open about saying study what you want to study, learn whatever you want to learn, because it’s only going to bring you closer to the creator, to who God is. They openly were like, ok, do it. And that was very freeing for me. I studied Rastafarianism, Judaism by way of Rastafarianism, Buddhist wisdom, the Baha’i faith, Islam, Shahar – a lot of different things I’ve studied, I see them all connected as just this one thing. If you could imagine different degrees of something – and that’s how I see spirituality and definitely religion in the context of spirituality. All of these various degrees, but we are all meant to go beyond those various degrees. If our spirituality is in a box, then you’re putting also the creator in a box, and I don’t know Her to be in a box.
MW: It’s funny that you talk about it in terms of “degrees” because each religion is like one full rotation. And degrees and rotations don’t form complete circles, they expand into another rotation…
Anonymous: Exactly, because we’re supposed to be evolving. That’s exactly what this is about. So it’s hard for me to say that I’m one thing, or that I subscribe to one thing, like Islam or Christianity or whatever, because what I really believe is that I’ve sort of, in a way, grown past that. It’s almost like a baby and a parent, right? At a certain point you gotta tell your child, don’t touch that stove, don’t do this, don’t do that, it’s better if you do things this way, or that way – they sort of give you advice and you need that because you’re a baby. And that’s what I feel like, in a way, religion is. It has its place. It disciplines you, it gets you ready for certain stages. But at a certain point, you should transcend to adulthood where you don’t need someone to tell you what to do, what you need to be doing, how many times you’re supposed to pray – you should already know what to do and you should have grown beyond the level where somebody has to tell you. This relationship you have with the creator should be something beyond what someone else can tell you. This is what we’re aspiring to be. And when we talk about Jesus and all these other great people, this is where they were. And if we halfway believe the things we say we believe, then we should be able to believe those things too. And we should aspire to do it. And it takes a lot of work and a lot of being real with yourself to get there. And that’s partly what spirituality is – yeah, jealousy might come up in me but I don’t want that to come up in me because I’m striving to be better. I’m striving to be a better human. I’m striving to have a deeper spiritual walk. So I choose not to give way to that thing. So I guess that’s the short answer (laughs).
MW: What do you do for self love and self care?
Anonymous: Umm… I do so much for self love and self care! I love it! I love to love me, I really do. Because I’m just so thankful to be who I am. I don’t even know how else to explain it but I do remember times when I wasn’t so grateful, but I am now. I’ve learned to appreciate so much about myself and even now I’m about to cry because I just feel so overwhelmed and I feel so glad to have that feeling. I know so many people don’t have it. And I really really do have it and I’m so happy.
But, umm… I do a lot. On simple levels, I cook for myself. I think that’s such an expression of love because first of all, I love to eat. (laughs) So to love myself, I cook healthy things that nourish my body and give my body the things that I need to be healthy and well and think clearly. And I take pride in that. I take pride in how I love myself. I run baths for myself – that’s one of my favorite things. I run these really nice baths for myself. Sometimes I buy flowers – roses – and just have a rose bath. I try all of these balms and put oils in the water and have incense and candles burning and sort of just romanticize myself and just enjoy myself and being alive and being here. And also as like a reward for myself because I feel like I do a lot for people and I want to stay motivated to do a lot so it’s important that I really love myself in that way.
I dance. (laughs) To love myself and feel my body move in different ways and feel the rejuvenation that goes through your body when you feel it move and how it can just do what it does. And you can do different things with your body and it’s like learning yourself. And I love that. I sing. I write songs to myself. I express my creativity in different ways. Even just speaking my mind sometimes is an expression of love for myself because I gotta say how I feel. I can’t be quiet and just… I’m important too and I have to remember that and act like it. So by speaking out, I remind myself. I also reaffirm other people and their beauty and the love I have for them. And to me, that is the same almost, as loving myself. It feels good to me, how I love myself.
MW: What is the woman’s role in our community? Or do we have a role?
Anonymous: Of course we have a role in the community! The woman’s role in the community, wow… well, we have a role first to ourselves to be there for ourselves, to be honest with ourselves about what we came here to do and our purpose in our own lives and not to suppress those things that we came here to do. We have a responsibility to be those examples for the future, for the women who are coming behind us, so they can be free enough to be who they are. Because we have to understand that our contribution is important. If it wasn’t, then we wouldn’t be here.
I remember one day I stayed up and I was looking out the window and I was up late between the hours of 2 and 6, and I began to see the night fade down as the day came into focus, and at one point it was a clear line – it looked like half of the sky was day and half of the sky was night, and it looked like the day was pushing the night down. And some sort of epiphany came from that about how the world is set up, or how life is set up. If you were to look at the day as a man and the night as the woman, both have a place in the world and both have to make room for the other, and both are important. So if we don’t value ourselves, first of all before anything else, then we are really not doing our part within the community. It’s important that balance exists. So first I would say our part is to understand that we do have a part. And not to be afraid to take on whatever role – to say the things that we need to say, to bring light to whatever we need to bring light to. And when nobody is listening to us, we can’t be afraid to do what we feel should be done. We don’t have to wait for nobody to tell us what to do. I think that’s our role. And to teach, because most of us are mothers in one way or another and we have a role as teachers. And teaching is not just telling somebody what to do but it’s actually being an example of what to do. So that’s a very huge, huge role because we have to stand strong when other people fall. And that doesn’t mean we don’t give ourselves permission to be human and make mistakes, but it means being honest about those mistakes so that people can learn from them.
And we have a role to respect ourselves so we can set the balance straight on how men and women relate. I really feel strongly about – and some of this, I’m speaking to myself because I’m not all the way at this point either. But I believe this is a role we do have. Because I think roles change at different times depending on your stage of life. And I think at this present time with how young sisters see themselves and how they’re treated, and how prostitution and rape are rampant and our bodies are not our own, and all these other things – we have a responsibility to treat our bodies in a certain way and to just have respect for ourselves so that other people will have respect for us. Mainly men, but also our daughters. We need to value our bodies and question our impulses, like why are we doing this? Why are we engaging with this person? Why are we sleeping with somebody who’s married, or why we let this man between our legs, period? A lot of things tie into that—emotions tie into that and it can be counterproductive to the work you’re trying to do in the community. You could be trying to build in the community and now you got a rift with a brother and now the community is divided and they gotta choose between you and him. It’s just all these things that get in the way of the real work, when really if you just respect yourself from the beginning, we can cut off some of these things and really show brothers that naw, this is how you have to act. This is where you have to come up to in order to get with us. This is what has to happen. You have to be an official man and do the right thing in order to be with us and that’s what it is.
And now we can have healthy families and now we can have healthy communities because that’s where it starts. So our role is very important because the family is the foundation from which everything else can grow. And if we are strong in that place, then there we go. But it takes us being super strong – we gotta be honest, we gotta confront things that need to be confronted, we gotta deal with things that need to be dealt with, you know – even our own mess. And we don’t want to hear that. So it takes a lot. But this is what we must do.
MW: Do you have anything else you want to say?
Anonymous: I think I definitely said enough.
MW: Maybe, but we needed to hear every bit. I truly appreciate you.