I know begin every post with a “I am sorry that I have been so MIA…” I get tired of saying this but yet I am so sorry that I have been MIA again! Year 25 has been quite a rollercoaster. I have gone though lots of changes and still am. Necessary yet difficult and painful changes. I moved “moved” out lol, meaning I have to pay rent out of my own paycheck. Shared my testimony in a dailymail.com article. I had surgery on my arms. I got a promotion at work. My car died on the highway! Traveled to Las Vegas. Found out my brother was engaged, yay happy. Started saving up to go to Nigeria. Car breaks down again. Traveled to Atlanta for a day to renew passport. Another car malfunction. Savings for Nigeria trip goes towards fixing my car. Waiting on passport. My anxiety was back in full force. Go Fund me- amazing people prayed and donated. Bought a plane ticket to go to Nigeria. Passport was still not here. Called the Nigerian consulate everyday to get an update, no one answers. Pushed back Nigeria trip. Emotional breakdown pending…I became an Aunt! Mistakenly gets hold of the head of the ATL Nigerian consulate. Passport arrives 3 days before rescheduled trip. Leave on Monday, arrive in Nigeria Tuesday. I see everyone, my heart was full!!! 1st week goes by fast. Second week/last week of my stay in Nigeria comes around, I realize it was my last week there, I start to get sad. Time to leave Nigeria…my mom and I try not to cry, we failed. Uncle and brother take me to the airport. Held my emotions together until I get on the plane, sobs uncontrollably. Back in America, everyone asks about my trip. I don’t really talk about it because I am trying not to miss them too much. Back to reality…work reality. Saving up for a new car. Saving up for school. Back to busy work to keep my mind off missing my mom and now I am here. I feel a bit fragile, a little too emotional. Going back to Nigeria for the first time really brought into perspective how long I had not seen all of my family and how much I truly miss them. Living so far away, I miss being close to them everyday and it is truly one of the most difficult things I have to do. I will write about my trip when I can stop crying lol. Phew, these past 9 months has been quite overwhelming. I started to write this post about 7 months ago but life distracted me. Months and months of being stubborn again. Not fully putting my trust in God and yet he kept showing up. Even though I made it more difficult than it might have been, I have learned so much. His love and mercy were always constant, and he led me back to this!
When I was younger, I don’t think I fully understood the concept of the word, beautiful. I was told by my parents, family, friends, your daughter is beautiful, you’ll grow up to be a beautiful young lady and so on. These are just some of the things that were said and as I went into this next phase of my life with those comments and somewhat expectations. However, after the accident, I felt like it was all taken away in the blink of an eye, and I lost something I was never given the opportunity to have.
When it was time for me to go to Secondary school, my dad chose an all girls Baptist private school. Boarding school is usually the expected route when it was time to go to secondary school, but because of the accident, they did not feel safe letting me go far. My dad found a school about 30 minutes away from home. When it was time to enroll, my mom took me. The school had this one rule that we thought we could somehow work around, all students had to cut off their hair. My mom and I knew about this rule but went in anyways with my newly done cornrows. In my mom defense she tried to convince them to let me keep my hair. She tried to find a middle ground by telling them we will always have it braided but they said no. Instead of starting school that day, we drove straight to the hair salon and the barber shaved it all off. I just remember crying uncontrollably. I was hysterical from the school, to the salon, on the way home, all day. My mom finally asked me why I was crying so much, I told her this was the only part of me that did not get burned, it was the only thing that made me feel beautiful, everything else was gone and my hair was all I had left, I was about 11 years old.
Last year, I had surgery on my lips. I got a new surgeon, Dr. Norbury. He asked me what my previous doctors had done, and what new procedures I would love to proceed with and I listed my lips, arms….the ball was in my court. I had talked to my previous surgeon about my lips but we kept pushing it back because we had other areas to work on and I was honestly afraid to speak up. I was scared and had doubts because this would be invasive surgery; I had not had one in a few years and this also could mean multiple reconstructive surgeries. I told him my number one were my lips. Why my lips? There was scar tissue right at the top of my top lip so when I smiled it was pulled too tightly. This one thing out of all of the fixable parts, even my arms, this one part was what I wanted to do for myself. We agreed and man I have never been so excited for surgery as I was this! I had the procedure; they removed the scar tissue and sewed me back up. I had stitches in my lips, they were swollen and I looked bruised
and beaten but all of that did not matter because I was so happy. I got discharged, couldn’t stop staring at my new lips when I got back home. I was given the timeline to get my stitches out in 1 week and by the time that week came around; I was so excited that I could not sleep all night. I was awake for 24 hours and drove myself to get them out- never drive after being awake for 24 hours! Getting them out was probably the worst suture removal I have experienced but it was all worth it. I walked to my car nervously digging in my bag trying to find a mirror so I could look at my new lips forgetting that my car had mirrors! I sat in my car, in the parking lot, looking at my lips for a little while. When I got home, I stood in front of my mirror staring at my new lips in awe. During that moment, standing in front the mirror, something I had done a million times over, the first thing I noticed were not my scars. Not the ones on my face, not the one on my arms, for those few moments, it was like it had all disappeared and I noticed myself differently, a cloud of peace came over me and I saw clearly and I believed for the first time that I was beautiful. I felt it deep in my bones like I had never had before. I can’t explain to you what it was like to finally believe and see myself as beautiful.
I give myself a hard time because I think it’s a bit ridiculous that this one simple procedure broke through. I don’t know maybe it was because of the lack of sleep but looking in that mirror, with no ounce of make-up on, no shower, my clothing in disarray, I saw what God saw for the first time and I felt full. His peace came over me and he pointed out, “this is what I see” nothing else. No surgery, not your hair, nothing could add or take away the way I see YOU. Nothing you do can change your value to me. Even the new lips are not a factor; they add nothing to how I see you. For the first time in forever, the thoughts in my head were mute; one of those “voices” being mine. I am my worst critic. One of my defense mechanisms was to criticized myself first, I managed to convince myself that if I criticized the way I
looked, I wouldn’t be sensitive and get hurt when someone said something cruel or looked at me funny. After a while, I only saw the ugly scars. It was nice for God to shut me up because I needed that. I needed the world to fade a way a little and I constantly need this because I struggle with believing that I am beautiful. Without fancy clothing, makeup, hair…I struggle with what I see when those things come off. Those moments alone where I have to tell myself not to look too closely because I pick myself apart. For the longest time after leaving Nigeria, I wouldn’t touch my hair. I remember the first time I cut it all off and I panicked. Funny thing, I shaved it all off again in college and my brother called me to see if I was okay because he knew the worth I had placed on my hair. I have come a long way from the girl who could not bear to have her hair cut. I remember when I used to hate having my picture taken. My family could tell you stories of how I would throw a fit when new people came over to the house because I did not want them to see me, I hid in my room.
As I get older, I realize that surgeries and compliments will amount to nothing until I stop believing that lie. It is a tug-o-war for me because my heart knows the truth but my head is battling against years of strongholds. Even more so living in the world today, I have had to be more careful because I never know what landmine I might step on. I am careful of what I read, what I look at, what society says I should “fix” in order to fit into their standard of beauty. The world picks you apart, try’s to give you “advice” on how to put yourself together but we will never fit in because that is not what we are created for. Everything from my job in fashion and my hobby revolves around this idea of beauty and sometimes, I have to pause, I have to take a break from it all because I have fallen into a trap of self-loathing. I listened to an interview of one of my favorite actresses, she said,
“There will be part of your body that you are not fond of and that’s OK. You can love those parts of you even if you don’t like them. And you do that by being kind to them, and speaking gently and lovingly to those pars of yourself”
–Tracee Ellis Ross.
I have been the girl who hated her skin for 17 years. I never learned to be kind to it. I never learned to be loving or gentle to it, instead, I learned to pick it apart. I learned to look for a “fix”. I used to have a dream that I would wake up one morning, and overnight, the scars would have disappeared. I used to beg God every night to heal me. To take away the scars because I know he can. To just make me look normal, to make me look beautiful. I still struggle with that phrase, “you are beautiful”. When I was little, my dad used recite a Latin poem to me about how beautiful I was. I used to think it was cheesy and would tell him to stop until I woke up years after moving away, yearning to hear him to recite it to me one more time so I could believe. We were all looking for a way to repair those physically damaged parts, and though, it was all from good intentions, along the way I forgot to see the real beauty that was me. Just the way I was, just the way I am.
YOU are beautiful. It is not a easy phrase to believe, it is not the easiest road to walk. It took me 17 years to let those words penetrate deep into my heart. I went from constantly blocking them to very slowly allowing God to speak this over me. I have not made it easy for him and I still do not make it easy for him. I know the truth, however, somedays I find myself believing those lies that I am not beautiful, I am not normal, I look weird, people are looking at me funny… I am learning to find HIS truth within those lies. Even if he has to repeat it a thousand times a day, he never gets tired of speaking over you whose image you are made of!