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Seek Help Immediately.

So. As I mentioned a little while ago on facebook, I am in the process of doing some self work. About two months ago, I had a tarot card reading primarily for entertainment but I was also looking for a little career guidance under the table. I asked if it might be a good idea to leave my current position in this season but after a quick glance at the cards, the reader asked me if I was currently in therapy. I told her that I wasn’t but that it was on my to do list. She told me to seek help immediately! I moved therapy up a little higher on my list, things aligned, and for about 6 weeks I’ve been working with Shanavier who is a gifted healer and wellness coach and everything else. It’s been nice. She’s got me up early meditating and drinking hot tea. Every morning. She has been guiding me through things like self-actualization and getting to know my ancestors a little better. She's revealed so much to me about myself in our time together and it seems I have ...feelings. This has been a nightmarish revelation. All of the emotions that I have housed in a comfortable repression for decades are now in my face at the top of the morning. But together, Shanavier and I work through them.

She told me that we would need to focus on past, present, and future self. While I would love to jump to my future self whom I am excited and hopeful about, I know there will need to be just a tad bit of attention paid to my past and present self before I can fully envision and embody. One of the assignments that Shanavier gave me to help with this process was to write what I would say to my younger self. I know this exercise has become popular in wellness circles and I had even done it a few times myself but not with much intention. Just random writing practice. This time however, I gave thought to my assignment, trusting that it would be a step toward my highest self.

“You’re not who you think you are. The identities that you expect for yourself are not going to fall into your lap. You’re special. Stop eating. You’ll be better looking as an adult.”

I read those words aloud to Shanavier with the confidence that my short, concise verbiage had checked all of the essential boxes. We’ve addressed self-actualization, check. We’ve addressed ongoing battle with obesity, check. Most importantly, I told the girl she was special and would grow out of her ugly stage. Later. Eventually. What more could this assignment possibly require of me? …

This might be a nice time to insert that I actually know Shanavier. When you are open, you never know how the Spirit will choose to show up for you through the people in your life. To me she is “Shay” because you don’t call people by their full name once they’ve been in your dorm room with their shoes off or raced with you to the cafeteria before close or spent the night with you in the basement of Willis Library praying for blessings unmerited. In a clinical approach to therapy, I’m sure it would be considered a conflict of interest for her to be “treating” someone that she knows personally, but thank God this communal healing work is not bound by any Western standards of what is good and appropriate. Thank God Shanavier is someone who knows how to assert professional boundaries while maintaining intimate trust.

Anyway, because I know her the way that I do, I recognized the face she made at the reading of my letter. We have been places and tried new foods together so I know what happens to her lips and her brow when a flavor or texture is offensive. I read it and then we both paused. I had picked up on her body language so my shoulders tightened and I got ready to defend my little thesis while she got ready to heal. “I hear you,” she said. “But did you hear your tone? Is that how you would talk to a child?”

Unfortunately, it had been exactly how I was speaking my younger self. And it’s how I’ve been talking to myself even now as an adult. Sharp, loveless, and condemning. I heard it and I hated it and I was so sorry. I am still so sorry. “Sit with that. Try it again and read it to me next week. Give yourself grace.”

So I did. And it has washed me.

My prayer is that you will take a moment to speak to your younger self and I hope that when you do, your words will wash you too. I hope that when you do this exercise, the tears that you have been holding back will join together and baptize you. I hope that you will read it aloud and examine yourself through the flavor and texture of your statements to a beloved child. I hope that you feel cleansed of any resentment you might have toward a kid who couldn’t possibly know what you know now. I hope that you will recover the pieces of yourself that you have misplaced. I hope that you will grant that child the grace and the gentleness that you need for yourself right now. I hope that you will love and feel loved in return.

Hey Lee.

I have a surprise for you. You are going to be much more than you imagine right now. You’re going to have so much fun as an adult! I know you are worried about success and I’m sorry, but I can’t tell you exactly what you’re gonna be. I still don’t know. In fact, nobody knows because you are something new. You're a lot of things. That “eyes haven’t seen” verse will prove itself over and over again in your life. You are brilliant, quick and kind. You are soulful, steady, and you have vision. Your hobbies are actually spiritual gifts. You’re a great listener and storyteller and people think you’re hilarious. Even adults think so. And you are. All of those things are everything so there’s no need to shrink. Live and imagine as large as you want to. You have my permission. Don’t be so hard on yourself. You’re only 8. Your energy is magnetic and your thoughts are so refreshing. Just keep showing up as you and try to be happy when you think of me.

Not really a surprise but more good news-your Creator loves you. This means a few things. 1. You are and you already have all that you will ever need. 2. No need to compare yourself to your mom or any of the other women you see because God is a girl like you. She thinks a lot and is original too. And yes, she wears what she wants to work. 3. You’re an artist. Like I said, we don’t know exactly what that means yet, but you can look up “griot” on a thing called google one day. That will be a start. Or you can just keep doing what you're doing. Wear and eat colorful things. Both will have you feeling glad to be alive.

I know you hate your hair and a lot of other things about yourself but you’ll find that beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. YOU are the first beholder every day so look a little longer and listen to God brag about what she made. Exhale girl. You are a wonderful child. You want others to like you so bad and they do. They adore you, but you’d be enough even if they didn’t. I’ll tell you this thing I read on a teabag once and then I’ll let you go. “You don’t need love, you are the love.” There is no lack in you, I promise. I love you and I’ll talk to you soon. Smile Kiddo.




photo by @jazzellamckeel

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