love, life, and the pursuit of liberation
Time for some truth telling.
I’m not the strong, have-it-together that some of you assume I am. I have flaws and many insecurities. One of them is that I’m a people pleaser, often to a serious fault. A bad, bad habit I’ve developed from childhood and that has seemingly been affirmed in adulthood. I’ve often thought that if I do or be xyz enough then love and acceptance would be reciprocated. I entered some bad relationships with that false idea and spent the first part of my marriage with that being the prevailing modus operandi. It’s weird because on an intellectual level, I KNOW that doesn’t make sense, and I’ve worked with enough therapists and awesome friends to learn some better ways of interacting. But just like anyone else with a deeply ingrained habit, it takes actively practicing new ways of being to truly get beyond it. I’m thankful that I’ve progressed from the woman I was, but I have so many moments of slipping.
Last week on a drive from Springfield, Mass back to Boston (I was away for work), I was listening to my Inspiration playlist. The song “Hate on Me” by Jill Scott came up, and the words reverberated in my soul. Now, usually I only feel lukewarm about that song. The instrumentation is awesome, but I’m so over this notion of people having “haters” to make themselves feel important. I believe that Rosetta Thurman spoke about it at Happy Black Woman in her post “Six Things I Hope You Stop Doing in 2011.” We all are on a human experience trying to do the best we can. Don’t nobody (yes don’t nobody) have time to actively sit and think of ways to “hate” (cue Dave Chappelle’s Hater’s Ball. Google it if you have no idea what I’m talking about).
So here I am driving back to Boston and the song comes on. I swear I almost caught the holy ghost y’all (google that too, but I don’t think you can really know what I mean unless you do 😉 ). It finally hit me what the song is about AND what I need to STOP doing. People’s issues and demands and expectations are reflections of THEIR issues. “If I could give you the world on a silver platter, Would it even matter, You’d still be mad at me.” We’re not supposed to look at as a to-do list of what we need to do to “earn” love. There is no “earning” of love. It is or it ain’t. People who place all these “if only you’s…” are really trying to figure out ways to make themselves feel love as well. They’re not trying to be cruel or mean; they are simply drowning in their own “isshas,” as my god-mother-in-my-head Iyanla Vanzant says. There is NOTHING you can do to please people. “Wonder if I gave you diamonds out of my own womb, would you feel the love in that or ask why not the moon?” But I’d be a liar if I didn’t admit that many times, I was the one listing the “if only you’s..”
The next part of the song that really just made me cry tears of joy was when she affirms that “I’m not afraid, What I got I paid for, You can hate on me.” It’s not about having monetary wealth or things. It’s about how you’ve paid for all your blessings with the life you’ve led and by being the person you are. Truthfully, we can never pay it all but our lives are the only way that we can begin to show our Creator our gratitude. “What I got, I paid for!” I didn’t have to apologize for my education, I didn’t have to tone down my vocabulary to make them feel better, I didn’t have to take that second job so that she can rot in depression, I didn’t have to accept that house because it showed that I was “down.” I don’t have to do a damn thing but me and that is more than enough.
“You cannot hate on me ’cause my mind is free
Feel my destiny, so shall it be”