Welp, just like I said, I’m going to tell you the stories I owe you, of how I came to be on my Know Thy Self Path in the first place as far as striving for African Holism, Spirituality and Wellness. FINALLY! Ha. It turns out that what seemed to be separate stories actually are related and overlap one another. This makes things SO MUCH easier to explain. 🙂
So, HOW did I get on this Path? The honest answer is, I was ALWAYS on the Path of RETURNING to my Natural African Holistic Self. I think the better question to ask is, “WHEN did I become AWARE that I was on this Path?” Believe it or not, it all started with my HAIR.
Yes, my HAIR.
See, most of my life, I’ve had trouble with THREE MAIN THINGS: my HAIR, my SKIN and my WEIGHT. So, you already know that this had a MAJOR negative impact on my self-image and self-esteem. It wasn’t always this way, but looking back I can see how these issues ultimately came to be.
As far as my weight, I had the “typical” childhood of what I now realize was a terrible case of MIS-EDUCATION of us ALL in my family, filled with a “steak & potatoes” kind of diet where I had either sugar-filled cereal and milk or a bacon/sausage and eggs and grits or pancakes for breakfast; tuna fish sandwich or PB&J or even a LUNCHABLES for lunch and my mom cooked dinner every night: from literal steak and potatoes to spaghetti to my ULTIMATE FAVORITE: MACARONI & CHEESE and FRIED CHICKEN!
There were also juices, sodas, fruit (which I LOVED), vegetables (which I mostly HATED, and if I DID eat them, they were canned, which is even WORSE) and OH MY GOD, do NOT get me started on SNACKS! ESPECIALLY in the summertime! I was one of those children around the way who had a little black plastic bag full of junk food from the corner store. Tastycakes, Guzzlers, chips, cookies, bean pies (which were my TWIST), popcorn, cheese twists, Gummi Bears, quarter Hugs and 50-cent Hugs, the list goes ON.
I even remember every first of the month when my mom got her check, she’d take me around the corner to McDonald’s. For a LONG time, McDonald’s was part of all I knew because my main concern was the toys that came with the Happy Meal! I even knew MR. SOFTEE as my DADDY! Ok, Ok, I exaggerate in jest with that last one, but I just want you to see how TERRIBLY I was eating. I used to be rather slim as a child, but that did NOT last long with the way I was eating. I even grew a POTBELLY at one point from all those monthly McDonald’s trips! Back then, I was in HEAVEN from my little childhood perspective; today, I couldn’t eat like that even if I TRIED. I’d keel over and DIE at the THOUGHT of THINKING about eating like that again. I’ve learned far too much about the foods we eat between now and then. I mean, YES, I do have my days when I backslide…but again, I could NEVER backslide THAT FAR! I REFUSE!
So next, as far as my hair, once I was old enough to do my own hair, I was already brainwashed with the “fact” that LONG, STRAIGHT hair was the BEST hair. Both my mom and my aunt had perms in their hair and at that time, I was also immersed in a variety of teen magazines geared towards WHITE girls AND even BLACK magazines showing BLACK WOMEN with LONG, STRAIGHT HAIR. Also, I was wrapped up in love with AALIYAH, who I loved since I was a child. Aaliyah is a special case of admiration for me to this day, but back then, I was HELL-BENT on having hair like HERS. I would even find myself STARING AT THE BACK of white women’s heads WISHING SO HARD I had THEIR hair when I rode on buses and they’d sit in front of me. I was also full of hurt, jealousy and envy of the girls in school with their “long, soft, flowing hair.”
So what did I do? Can you guess? After YEARS of being exposed to EUROCENTRIC standards of beauty as being the ONLY standards of beauty mixed with my admiration of AALIYAH, therefore me wanting to be just like HER–my mom would use the hot comb and when THAT routine died, I PRESSED, PRESSED, PRESSED my hair with my flat iron EVERY SINGLE DAY. My hair was FRIED and DRIPPING GREASE. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think I was talking about CHICKEN or something! My hair was literally BRITTLE and CRUNCHY to the touch and THEN– after all the agony I put my hair through, being in denial about it getting shorter and STILL chasing pipe dreams of Eurocentric hair…in high school, I was introduced to WEAVE and WIGS. And it all went downhill from there…
Simultaneously, from all this abuse and pain my body was going through with going through puberty, low self-esteem, poor self-image, poor diet, my SKIN erupted with acne! It all started in the fifth grade. I was 9. (Let me just mention that I got skipped from 1st grade to 2nd, so from the very moment I stepped into my 2nd grade classroom ALL THE WAY up to about 8th grade, I was TORMENTED by my peers). I was called all kinds of names from the classic “Fat Mama Cheeseburger” to “Shrek.” It was madness!
LONG STORY short(er), I was taught how to HATE myself, whether it was on purpose, directly, or indirectly. It doesn’t matter. The end result was I HATED myself, in my Mind I wasn’t good enough the way I was and I wanted to change myself, but for YEARS, even up to not so long ago, I’ve gone about it all the wrong way.
So HOW did I make a change? What does this have to do with my HAIR again?
June 17th, 2012…I just decided to take my wig off. So serious. My hair has always been a nice length, all thick and natural, but because I was brainwashed to a certain extent and ill-taught on how to care for and embrace MY OWN HAIR, it was only “natural” that I took interest in weaves, wigs, etc. Personally, I preferred to wear wigs because I could keep my hair nice and washed, braided up and safe underneath. No heat styling, no perms (after that ONE disastrous perm I had), NADA. But of course…there was still a certain level of neglect in that method too. I was relying FAR too heavily on the wigs and leaving my hair in braids for LONG periods of time, as if seeing my actual hair the way it was would cause people to turn into STONE or something!
Anyway, on this bright, beautiful day in June, I just decided to NOT wear my wig. I took the wig off, took my protective braids out and just decided to wear my hair out as it was–like a TEST RUN of sorts.
I lie to you not, as SOON as I undid my braids and my hair was just OUT, I LITERALLY felt my ENTIRE HEAD CLEAR UP! I really hate to sound all cheesy and cliche, but it was like a weight, a heavy pressure was lifted off my head. My Mind sharpened, my mood brightened–I finally set myself FREE. And it all snowballed from there.
DIVINE ORDER was (and still is) in full effect. My interests shifted, morphed, changed, grew, dissolved….from music to the things I read and immersed myself in, to the places I would go to people I attract to the food I eat…it’s amazing looking back on it all now.
Ever since I embarked on my Know Thy Self Spiritual Journey to Enlightenment, I’ve learned SO MUCH about the world we live in. How much hatred, deception and overall negativity there really is glaring out at us all from every possible angle on a DAILY BASIS. But I’ve also learned (and I’m still learning) that all the negative things I’ve been told by others and eventually by MYSELF, ABOUT myself are simply not true. They’re not true, never have been true, and never WILL be true.
I’m learning and accepting the true power and responsibility I have over myself, my Dreams, my Destiny, and my Purpose. It’s been almost TWO YEARS since I’ve begun THIS journey in an AWARENESS of doing so, and with all the information and experiences etc. that I’ve gathered, I’ve come to the conclusion that I HAVE A LOT OF WORK TO DO. A LOT of work. This time, it’ll be the Right Work. The Creator’s work.
So with that being said, I need to properly HEAL myself completely: Physically, Mentally, Emotionally, and Soulfully so that I can PROPERLY fulfill my Life’s Purpose. I can’t do that if I’m sick and run-down and toxic and self-hating. It doesn’t work that way.
With all the awareness and daily work I’m putting into MYSELF (as we have all been programmed to NOT do, and to do the absolute OPPOSITE), it’ll be the very beginning of me breaking the vicious cycle of illness and ignorance that’s plaguing my people (all those of African descent at home on the continent and in the diaspora.)
I have people depending on me, people in my family and around me I want to help heal, but I gotta do that by starting with MYSELF. I gotta sit down and get to know KIEMA, who she is, what she’s about and what she NEEDS in order to thrive.
And one day, when the time is right, I’m going to be a wife and mother, and I’m going to build a respectable, everlasting legacy for us all. It’s OUR responsibility as a people. Plus…I always said to myself, “I’m going to be the BEST version of God’s Original Blueprint of me,” even when I was going about it the wrong way. Well I’m gonna make DAMN SURE I make myself the useful vessel the CREATOR made me to be. End of story.
To anyone out there reading this, just know you are not alone. I have to learn to remember this too because I nowhere NEAR got it all together yet! But none of us are ever as alone as we think we are. We have the Creator, our Ancestors and each other!
And THAT, my friends, is the story. 😉
I’m so excited about this journey we’re taking together!
Let’s go to work!