I am never sure how other’s might perceive me. I’ve always been super curious about that. In recent years though, I have decided that hanging onto the hope of ever understanding myself as an “image” is rather pointless. I’m always changing, and we only ever see the world (and each other) from our own perspectives. Frankly, labels are limiting. I don’t do limited. Or, I try very hard not to.
Once upon a time, in my lifetime, existed a young woman who was quite a different version of me. I was as asleep in my life as one could ever be. I believed everything before my eyes, and I lived on autopilot. A dangerous thing considering my background and the reality of a life like mine. People who live like that can either be killed, or end up killing.
I’m triggered into this core memory of a person I used to know by a movie I watched recently, Mi Vida Loca. It’s a true to life movie about gang member’s and girls who are growing up in gang mentality related realities. Each and every character in this movie sparked recognition in my soul. They were all me, the old me. And in moments, the new me.
I have never tried to pretend I’m more innocent than I am. I’m not one to downplay my shadow side, as I understand the necessity of it too well. I have the utmost love and appreciation for ‘old Alisha’ and her use of her survival instincts. They are what kept me alive. Barely, sometimes.
I even look back and fondly recall the freedom of a life lived in whichever way I chose, with no support or guidance. I was born into a life that would eventually show me every opposite of truth I had accumulated in the first 18 years of breathing. I loved that life, but I understand the call to change.
I’ve always loved people beyond the exterior. As you can imagine that wasn’t always ideal in a seedy upbringing like “the hood”. I know the feeling of missing a man behind bars. Of loving a man who banged for a color. And of having my insides stomped on by “boys” who would almost surely never receive the same awakening as myself. To be called to change their ways so that they might serve a higher purpose.
One might say we are all ultimately serving a higher purpose, if one were a master at seeing from an enlightened point of view.
I’ve written intensely passionate love letters to strangers. I accepted anyone into my heart back then. I most strongly related to the character, Alicia – La Blue Eyes. I was also always a target for being unique, even back then! I lived between worlds, the same as I do now. Only now, the worlds are the physical vrs. spiritual, rather than my white side vrs. the brown. Or, girl with grandiose dreams vrs. the pull of the underbelly of a world who has yet to acknowledge it’s existence with any real respect.
I’ve been at parties where gunfire broke out as soon as I left. That was an actual reality for me at one point in time. I lived for a time, with active gang members in my home. I didn’t fear them as I do now, because my life was pointless to me back then. Now, I have children. And though my heart still reaches out and loves without condition, all types of people, I protect what is mine as if it the most precious thing on this Earth. To me, my sons are that thing.
I’ve watched people snort coke and even tried it myself. Amongst other drugs. It’s the worst form of self medication, though I’m not in true judgement of anything anyone does to “survive” anymore either. I’ve seen too much. I know how hard it is for some, and I’ve been in their shoes at one time or another. I can’t judge another for his sins when my own are on full display. I wouldn’t dream of it, as these are my people, the ones my heart belongs to. The very lives I hope to touch one day, and gently persuade into wanting to change.
I think God gives us the tools we need when we’re ready. He bestows upon us the life we needed, rather than the one we would have preferred. The world is in desperate need of people who care. People who want to take the hands of the broken and see them, without any hatred in their hearts.
If there is one thing I’ve learned, it is never to be ashamed of who you are and where you have been. Because to meet someone face to face who sends their self hatred to you, is appalling and beyond tragic. And does nothing for the very people in the very place they themselves have traveled from.
No matter how you grew up, or what you’ve done in the name of survival, you’re here now. And now is as good a time as any, to become a different person than the one the world elected you to be before you knew you were so much more than they would ever allow.
To truly empower one’s self, one must admit who they really are first. And embrace that lost inner child as if the child itself is God.