“All the lovely women living in your blood are trying to teach you their soft magic. Please pay attention to them”
I can still hear my Nanie’s (my maternal grandmother) words echoing, “I ain’t got to do nothing but stay black and die” when referring to something somebody told her she had our ought to do. And I’m saying the same thing now. Especially when it comes to the obligations and duties I’ve always felt bound too.
The truth is, I don’t owe anyone anything. Not a conversation, my time, or my energy. I don’t have to share my space, a meal, my knowledge, my ear, my shoulder, my money, nothing! Not if I don’t want to. Not if I don’t feel like it. The message I received from my upbringing was that I owed. I owed my parents, my elders, the church, and the community. I was blessed. I was fortunate. And I was obligated to give of my bounty to others. It was my duty to share of myself with others. I was even obligated to carry the burdens of others. Their problems and issues became my problems and issues. Even at the expense of myself. I carried that messaging into my adult years. I willingly gave to anyone who asked for my time, money, resources, knowledge, advice, body, heart, and energy. I did not learn how to say no. In fact, I did not learn that it was ok to say no. I did not learn that what I have is for myself first and foremost and I have the right to choose what I give others and when.
“Its your story honey. Feel free to hit em with a plot twist whenever you want”
But I have learned that not only is it ok to say no. It is ok to say no without any explanation. I can cut others out of my life as I please. I can do what I want, when I want, and with whom I want. All I gots (yes, gots) to do is stay black and die. I don’t have to do anything else. I don’t owe anyone anything. My bounty and my blessing are just that. MINE. I do not have to share what I worked tirelessly and endlessly for just for the sake of sharing. I have learned that I can be inaccessible because my presence is a privilege to be earned and not merely given.
“You are allowed to change the price of what it costs to access you”
Then the fear kicks in, “what will people think, what will they say”. Because God forbid people think ill of me for establishing boundaries and complain that I’ve changed and question whether I think I’m better than anyone. There is a price for everything. I am willing to suffer the cost of being looked at differently. My peace, my happiness and my comfort are more important. We have every right to put ourselves first and then decide who (if anyone) is next. We have the right to say no, unapologetically. We have the right to not want to give, do or be anything that is in conflict with our true selves.
“Who you are. You don’t have to defend it. Or explain it. You just have to set it free. That’s your journey”
Thank you Nanie for the reminder that I truly don’t have to do nothing but stay black and die. But There’s one more thing I’d like to add to that, I also don’t have to do nothing but be happy.