Cipher: A Life of Shadows

At our very first heartbeat, I believe that each of us has a predestined journey and purpose.  We don’t get to choose the parents or family that we are born into to help us grow and learn on our journey of a lifetime.  Through the miracle of birth, we are pushed through by the human vessel; although we all would like to be born into a family of perfection, that is not the way life works for many.

I grew up in a poor single-family home.  My maternal grandmother raised me.   Molested by her mother’s boyfriend and only finishing primary school; she bore five kids and my mother was the fourth born to a man she would never grow to know.  When my mother was fifteen she became pregnant with me.  I am the product of my maternal great-grand mother and grandmother’s shadows.

HURT PEOPLE, HURT PEOPLE – Just because someone hurt you, does not give you the right to hurt others.

I didn’t realize what generational karma was until my paternal grandmother told me the reason she stopped letting my paternal grandfather watch me as a young child…. I immediately connected this to a feeling that had hunted me, the reason I connected sex with love, and why promiscuity found me at a young age.  My aunts had also been sexually abused… I had no idea until she revealed her truths.  I questioned the woman that my grandmother had always been to me; STRONG.  How could she have stayed with a man who had hurt so many others; who she had never married for love?  Ironically, she had also been a victim of molestation.  Oddly, my soul felt relieved but as a young mother, I immediately became over protective; if my own loved-one could do this to me, I had to protect my daughter, I had to break the cycle.

I was 26 that day that I called my paternal grandmother just in our daily routine and she had the most honest conversation with me that she and I had ever had and probably ever will.  She had lived a life that she wasn’t proud of and had married a man she had never loved, and she put up with some horrible things and had done some terrible things.  I didn’t need an apology, she taught me the greatest lesson in that one conversation.

I thought long and hard about the pillars in my family and who I could speak to about the emotions and concerns that I had.  I spoke to my oldest uncle who told me that he had known but I could not live in the fear of shadows, learning to discern without smothering my child was best.  He and my grandmother told me stories of lessons that I needed to bare for our family, and the generations to come.  If peace and blessings were to manifest than secrets that hunted my grandmothers and our ancestors…needed to be embraced.

The shadows that hunt us are:

  • Abuse
  • Addiction
  • Violence
  • Poverty
  • Illness
  • Abandonment
  • Betrayal

These shadows create cords that can entangle us and are often repeated and practiced for generations within our families.  In a discussion with some colleagues, we talked about the infamous Amber Rose and her “slut walk”, and why some women choose to perpetuate feminism/female empowerment with “naked-ness”.   She brought up the point that many of these women have been sexually abused and find promiscuity as an outlet and have not emotionally processed their issues. I began to think of all the people who walk around with secrets and traumas from dysfunctional families.  Are we internalizing our issues/shadows each generation and they manifest into our everyday interactions and communication?

According to the United Nations (UN) Study on Violence [World Health Organization (WHO), 2006], 150 million girls and 73 million boys under the age of 18 experienced CSA worldwide in 2002. The Childhood Maltreatment Summary 2005 (Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2007) estimates that 91,000 children were sexually abused in the United States in 2003.

The way we choose to handle or neglect our mental health and emotional ties today; affect our families tomorrow.  From the beginning of the destruction of the negro-family; up to this very moment, we must learn how to identify our roles, our shadows, and our truths just as often as we identify our accomplishments.

These binding ties are formed at birth and are practiced.  Generational karma/curses are real. Speak your truth, walk in faith, break cycles, embrace your shadows, and hold on to the morning LIGHT.

-Ase

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About Ashley V.

One day I woke up, married...two daughters...and third on the way, and I decided to write! I am a Florida A&M University graduate; currently seeking my Master's degree in Reading and Literacy. I am a high school Reading teacher. I am underpaid, over-loved, overwhelmed, overjoyed, and often in-over-my-head!

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