Affirmation: "I express the fullest version of myself."
I had a dream the other night that made me have to side-eye myself.
So, in my dream, my manager pitched me for the role of Celie in The Color Purple. Now, if you've ever seen the film, that makes complete sense. If we're talking about a remake of the movie, it's a fantastic role. But... my manager didn't pitch me for the role of Celie in the film, she was pitching me for the musical. You would think I would have been excited about it, but that is NOT how it went down in my dream.
In the dream, I found myself in the middle of rehearsal, trying to figure out how in the world I got there. Out of nowhere, I overheard that I was replacing a PHENOMENAL singer, and everyone just went back about their business of rehearsing the show. So, I was magically dropped into this amazing opportunity but only felt confused.
Why would my manager pitch me for the role of Celie???? Don't get me wrong. I can sing. I'm decent. I would even call myself a singer. Okay, I'm a singer, but I'm a closeted singer. I don't tell folks that I can sing. There's a whole story behind it, but for now, we're just going to talk about this dream. As a singer, I could totally be in the ensemble, but Celie?!?! You can't hide playing Celie.
I sing, but the artist I was replacing in the dream SANGS. I mean it. She has all the runs, all the power, all the control. I've seen her take a role like Celie and make magic with it. One of her performances brought me to tears. Like, literal, changed-my-life tears. And they wanted me to replace her?!
So, in the dream, I spent the rest of the rehearsal trying to tame everyone's expectations. Over and over again I tried to tell everyone in the room not to expect much. I'd say, "Listen, I'm good, but I'm not HER." Then, I'd rub my head and try to figure out how to get out of the mess I was in. Meanwhile, there was a little voice in the back of my head saying, "You know, you can do this your way." I didn't pay that voice any mind. I just kept trying to shrink myself right out of the opportunity.
Then I woke up. My mind was blown.
That dream felt bizarre but completely familiar. I prayed and asked God if that's something that I do. The answer was a resounding YES.
First of all, in the dream, I never acknowledged what a complete honor the opportunity was. It didn't feel like an opportunity. It felt like I was being set up to fail. But the truth of the matter is that it was an opportunity. A beautiful opportunity. A beautiful, life-changing, amazing opportunity if I succeeded. I just didn't see it that way. It was too risky for my blood.
I've put myself in my safe little box. I am an actor. I can sing. I can dance. I can write. But I'm a beastly actor. I lean into it so hard that I hide all the others. It feels safe. Nevermind the fact that I love music. Nope. I only publicly do things that make me feel safe.
When I woke up and how my come to Jesus moment, I realized how I self-sabotage. When I feel challenged, I shrink myself. That's right. I hide behind someone else or disappear altogether. I try to make myself small until I feel like I'm safe from failure and ridicule. Then, when I'm building and working, I'm mad because of how small my life and opportunities feel. But the crazy part is that they're small because I made them that way! Again, mind blown. I had no idea.
In my dream, the way I should have played it was:
So, now that I've learned this crucial information about myself. It's GAME ON.
I'm going to work on the places that I feel deficient but forge ahead with big opportunities despite feeling scared.
"I express the fullest version of myself."
Affirmation: "I allow myself to heal."
For the last month, I've been healing from a neck strain. I'm not 100% sure where it started, but I learned the hard way that my pillow and bed were making it worse. For weeks, I couldn't sit down because the pressure in my head was so intense. I would either have to lay down or stand. I even planned a whole date night around activities that could be done standing up. I kept moving forward, but every now and then, I would just break down and cry OR I started having weird symptoms that had nothing to do with what was actually happening.
The word that kept coming to me during that time was: allow.
It was very uncomfortable, but I kept it pushing. I worked around the injury and tried not to let it get me down. Tuesday morning it all came to a head when I woke up feeling panicked. The weird symptoms came back again. Where in the world was this coming from? After working through it: quiet time with God, meditation, exercise, and just some general self-care I realized that I'd been having mild panic attacks sporadically for the last two weeks. That's what those weird symptoms were.
I googled "allow" and found the following definitions (Oxford Languages):
1. give (someone) permission to do something.
2. give the necessary time or opportunity for.
I scheduled an impromptu session with my therapist for the next day.
What I've learned is that I was feeling like I should be over this by now. I should be stronger. I was tired of feeling weak. I wasn't allowing myself to heal. I was so focused on "getting on with it" that I kept ignoring my body and soul. They wanted to take it slow and be nourished, but I just wanted to get back to normal. That was the source of the conflict.
I let my body and soul win. For the last two days, I've been "allowing." I've taken the deadline off my healing process. If I feel like crying, I cry. If I feel like eating, I eat. If I feel like taking a nap, I sleep. Barring any work obligations, I'm just flowing with my body.
Does my neck feel 100% better? No. But it is better. I can sit down now. Little by little I'm making progress. I realize that it's going to take time. Have the panic attacks stopped? Yes. Because I've stopped pressuring myself. To me, that's a win. One day, I'll be stronger than ever, both emotionally and physically.
But for now: "I allow myself to heal."
Him: Let's do a clean sweep.
Me: What's a clean sweep?
Him: It's when you clean the house as a team. You go from one room to another, knocking it out together.
Me: (Dumbfounded) Sure.
One Saturday morning, my husband announced that he wanted to do a "clean sweep" with me. We've been together for a long time, but we've never done this. We typically work on different parts of the house and cars alone. Most of the time that means that he's doing some sort of work on the yard or the cars, and I'm cleaning the inside. I didn't complain because that's how we just assumed that the work needed to be done. But this Saturday, he wanted to try to work together as a team on the interior of the house.
We worked from one room to the next in lockstep. We functioned well as a team and cleaned the house in half the time it usually takes me to do it alone. At some point in the middle of all the cleaning, I broke down and cried. I stood in the kitchen, with a dish in hand and a man by my side, and just lost it. I was overwhelmed with gratitude. I didn't know that working like this was possible.
It hit me in that kitchen that I'd only ever seen a married couple in my family cleaning together once before. I visited some family in the northeast one Thanksgiving, and one of my parents' cousins and his wife cleaned up the kitchen together after the meal. I witnessed it and cataloged it as a sweet memory. But something happened to me when my own husband wanted to work together on domestic responsibilities. It healed something in me: the idea that "carrying" something alone in a partnership is normal.
I like to think I'm pretty progressive in my views about womanhood, but there are some bad assumptions about black womanhood I'm still trying to shake. I'm used to seeing our women shoulder a ton while our men just watch or take a break from whatever hell they are experiencing in the world. Most of the black women I know carry the domestic responsibilities alone, whether they are the breadwinners or not. I'm so used to black women being strong for everyone else that it touches me deeply to see someone caring for her, even if it's just by lending a helping hand.
I have the best life partner, but this one act of kindness revolutionized the way I see family.
I am not alone.
YOU are not alone.
Asking for help is an option.
We can support one another much more than we realize, and when we work together, we are better. We just are.
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