He was sent to me. By God, and/or the celestial universe, but whoever sent him, there he was. He came to teach me. He came to shine a light. And when people say, “he may not come when you want him, but he’s always on time,” I know they’re usually talking about God, but, my God, was he right on time.
Upon his arrival, my open eyes were opened wider. Something in me recognized him. Perhaps from my dreams or even from my darkest nightmares. He was familiar and his aura spoke loudly and clearly. His voice resonated and when he spoke, my spirit tuned in. When he looked at me, I could feel my heart shaking inside of my chest. When he listened to me, he had this hum that signaled affirmation. I quickly realized, this was no ordinary love.
He came into my life at a time when I needed him the most. He accepted me. He spoke words of light and life into my heart, and breathed new energy into my spirit. He saw me.
Yet, as time went on, I realized that this connection was not about him. It wasn’t him that I needed, it was me. One day, he spoke something to me, about me, that only God and I knew, and it was also at that point, I realized that he was sent to me, for such a time as this. His purpose was to reignite a fire within me that had been extinguished by disappointment, discouragement, heartbreak and fear. He spoke to a place within me that I’d prayed to heal. And upon hearing that word, I finally got it. Healing was not on the way; healing was here.
The word was about my health and wellness. It wasn’t a shallow, patriarchal perspective on my weight masked underneath a disingenuous concern for my well-being. It was a word that spoke to my highest self without threatening my ego or anything that was so important to me at the time. This word focused on something that I lived and breathed everyday, PURPOSE. He told me that it was my divine purpose and responsibility to love myself and master the art of self-care; and that until I did, I would only reach a certain point in my destiny.
Those words hit me smack dab in the middle of my (third) eye. For years, I’d tried to implement and sustain wellness strategies under the guise of living a healthier life, but deep down, I was only focused on losing weight. I was tired of struggling. I was tired of TRYING to get it right when I knew I was capable of getting it right. I was tired of desperately trying to love my uncomfortable, unhealthy body that felt like it didn’t belong to me. Once I was tired enough, I was ready to admit that I had no clue what to do.
And, in what seemed like an instant, upon hearing this word, my inner strength, will, and fortitude came into alignment with my life’s purpose and heart’s desire. Everything that I needed in order to be who I wanted to be was right inside of me. I didn’t need any more motivation or inspiration from anyone else. I had what I needed. I AM who I needed.
So, I decided to become a master- a master of self-love.
When did loving ourselves become a luxury? When did caring for ourselves become a task, or chore that we loathe? When did we learn that putting others before ourselves was a badge of nobility and honor?
We’ve lost our way. Somehow, we believed the lie that we could love others without a meaningful and deep love connection to ourselves. Somewhere on our life’s journey, we were either never taught (or we were taught and walked away from) a true knowledge of self-love over the fabricated understanding that love is somehow manufactured outside of ourselves. We became revolutionaries in a fight for freedom, yet, we are emotionally and spiritually imprisoned by our own self-neglect.
So here I am: a loving, strong, successful, intelligent, caring, compassionate, hopeful, faithful, and inspirational Black woman admitting that for years I didn’t love myself. As a result of that lack of love, I lacked a model of appropriate and consistent holistic self-care.
I set out on a path that would require me to make some uncomfortable decisions, do some scary things, and apply radical, unconditional, non-judgmental love to the ugliest parts of myself. I found myself confronting my obsession with food (especially sugar) and how I used it to ease my emotional turmoil. I was forced to face the in-congruence that existed between the discipline I readily apply to most areas of my life and my lack of true concern for my health and wellness. And, eventually, I realized the most difficult process would be submitting my ego and committing myself to learning and doing what’s best for me, emotionally, spiritually, and physically.
So, I did just that. I studied. I listened. I learned. I paid attention to my body. I tried new approaches. I found mentors. I cleansed. I rejected the voices of doubt. I denied myself. I sacrificed. I embraced. I let go. I didn’t give up. I spoke to God. I spoke kind words to myself. I embraced and appreciated nature in new ways. I surrendered. I healed.
And, with this newfound healing, I am no longer able to sit idly by while so many other incredible, amazingly talented, nurturing and compassionate Black women continue to make strides in their careers, accomplish major feats and own their professional destiny while their personal health diminishes by the minute. The way my purpose is set up, I am not only responsible for living for myself, but also for using my own life and experiences to shine a light on the knowledge, strength and power needed for Black women to live our best and healthiest lives.
After about three months of purging, shedding, releasing, embracing and embodying, I was a new woman. Healing had come. By eating clean whole foods, focusing on a healthy way of thinking and relating to myself, and practicing unwavering discipline, I’d totally shifted my constitution and body. I was 30 lbs lighter and had shed the weight of emotional discord that plagued my mind, body and spirit. I also cured myself of chronic sinus conditions and no longer greeted each morning with sinus pressure headaches and/or disgusting post-nasal drip.
I found myself cornered at work, checking numerous Facebook messages and responding to text messages by so many beautiful black women who were heroes to so many, but unable to save themselves from the choke hold of self-neglect. I realized that waiting until I was a year or two into the journey to share my story wasn’t an option; because ultimately, my success isn’t in the amount of pounds that show on the scale, but in my acknowledgment of the urgency to care for myself and the commitment to start. I had the discipline and everything I needed to be successful and so did they. They are bogged down with the weight of carrying the burdens of the community on their shoulders and struggling to keep their hearts light and free while grappling with the emotional turmoil that follows years of trauma and heartache.
They, too, needed healing. They, too, needed a word. And they, too, needed to know that they are who they need the most.
Here’s the word:
You were born with a purpose and divine responsibility to master self-love and care for yourselves so that you can live into the fullness of life and love.
Until you master the art of choosing yourself first, you will continue to gasp for air while working tirelessly to save everyone else.
Until you master the art of self-care, you will continue to search aimlessly for balance & control that only truly exist upon surrender.
Until you recognize that your body is a vessel for purpose that should regularly receive whole foods with essential nutrients & minerals, you will never know what it is like to feel fully alive.
Until you recognize that you are worthy of every minute you spend meditating, praying, taking deep breaths, journaling, taking long hot baths, chanting, gazing at the stars, watching your spirit animal in nature, relaxing with essential oils or just sitting alone quietly in your car after a long day, you will never experience the deepest, most beautiful part of your soul.
Until you become a master of self-love, you will never fully realize your purpose.
You are your heroine. You are your savior. YOU are who you need.