If someone were to ask me if I had low self-esteem I’m sure my response would be something that would be in contradiction to the way that I was really feeling. I’m normally one of those people who has to really work on my facial expressions because my face tells it all, but for years I’ve been able to hide the fact that I didn’t love myself. I use to think that low self-esteem only had to deal with what we thought about ourselves on the outside and never really considered the things that I was battling on the inside. So outside thinking the truth was I wasn’t really fond of how I looked but that was only the beginning to the things that I would allow myself to do and the things I allowed to happen in the midst of my lack of love for myself.
Growing up I had a complex issue and I could not see the beauty in me that everyone seemed to see. I hated my kinky curly hair, my scrawny frame, my chinky eyes, my name, and my forehead that apparently played movies. My complexion issue ran so deep that I didn’t want to play with black Barbie dolls. I wanted the white Barbie with the straight hair and blue eyes because to me that exemplified beauty and I wanted to be what everyone wanted. I wanted a “just for me” so bad because I was tired of always having braids that put extra emphasis on my forehead. All I wanted to do was get a good doobie done and a bang cut to hide my forehead from the world. I was always the funny or smart girl, and that’s what made me have a lot of friends in school, but for once I wanted to be the girl who boys liked because of how I looked not because I made them laugh. I remember the day in the 4th grade in Ms. Johnson’s class I stopped applying myself in school because I didn’t want to be called the teacher’s pet anymore. I was used to boys teasing me and my mom feeding me the line that “they mess with you because they like you” but I knew she was lying because they didn’t call the pretty girls ugly in the midst of teasing them. Things took a turn for the worst when I was at the age of 7 when someone who was supposed to be considered family played off my insecurities and took advantage of me. Well I guess I should call it for what it is, he molested me. He knew that I was super sensitive about people talking about how big my head was, and played off my weakness and made it into a sexual game that would haunt me for the rest of my life. I spent 15 years of my life feeling ashamed, dirty, embarrassed, and even uglier than I had thought I was before. There were many times I thought about what life would be like without me, and there were a few times that I actually tried to commit suicide. Overdosing on pain meds, thoughts of walking in mid traffic, and trying to suffocate myself with my own pillow.
My mother was beautiful, light skin, nice curvy shape, and long hair. I secretly envied my mother and never wanted her around my friends. She never understood and would try to convince me that I was a spitting image of her, and to me that had to be impossible when I had little boys always telling me “your mother looks good. What the hell happened to you Chyna? Well at least you can sing though.” I guess I could say I had one thing going for myself. My father was black lol at least that’s all I could remember about him from his years of absence in my life. I came to blame my dad for my tar baby complexion and hated him for the curse he left with me, like come on dude you couldn’t have given me anything else. My family made a big move to the dirty south sike we moved to Virginia lol and my mother met my step dad who was another little light skin and I was surrounded by a bunch of light brights. My mom, step dad, brother, and soon come baby brothers were all light skin, and here I was over here barely passing the brown paper bag test. I hated life and it seemed like God was using different ways to punish me and make me even blacker. I loved going outside playing in the dirt and running around playing tag and shit but I did not want to go outside anymore because I knew I would come back in two shades darker. I loved to swim I could literally spend the whole day at the pool but soon I didn’t want to go swimming because I knew that tan line would be real and I would be ten shades darker than I was before. I remember when my mother started showing me how to do my own laundry and I found out that bleach made the whites whiter. Bingo nigga! Bleach yourself and things would be all good in the hood. NOT! I put that damn bleach in my tub that night and my whole cookie (that was my kid term for my vagina) was on fire lol the first terrible mistake I made in attempts to deal with my self-hatred.
Do y’all know that I made myself blind on purpose? lol I’ll never forget it. Peep this so I naturally have bags underneath my eyes, my eyes are chinky and I hated the combination it was not a good look to me. I remember one day a friend of mine allowed me to try on her glasses and I thought to myself ”hey now this could work for you why don’t we fail the eye exam so you can get glasses.” So y’all know what I did next, now all of a sudden it’s hard for me to see the board at school blah blah , and the next thing you know Chyna is wearing glasses. Did that increase my stats? Nah but it was one hell of a try, and definitely permanently messed my eyesight up for the rest of my life. Middle and High School may have been some of the hardest years for me to deal with my low self-esteem because our appearances were starting to become more of a conversation. I struggled with being my own individual and trying to fit in with everyone else. Elementary school wasn’t so tough because I was coming from New York so I stayed fly you know how we do lol nah but for real, and when we did fall on hard times I was wearing sketchers and clothes from Wal-Mart and at the time it didn’t bother me as much because all we were doing were getting our clothes dirty anyway.
I was always a little tomboy so I enjoyed wearing jeans, shorts, and some nice sneakers. That remained for me when I went off to high school. Little did I know that when we went off to high school niggas were about to switch they whole style up. We were no longer wearing baby girl t-shirts and our Chinese slippers. Nah, everyone wanted to wear these ridiculous button ups with big belts around them and these pointy little flats. Meanwhile I’m still flat chested, no butt at all, still wearing Jordan’s, colored jeans, and a white t-shirt. Of course, I had friends who wanted to see me in these ridiculous outfits and of course I went along with it walking around looking uncomfortable as hell with a big ass purple backpack on my back meanwhile all the other girls are carrying handbags. I guess that wasn’t as uncomfortable to watch as much as it was when I played myself and thought I was going to be a cheerleader smh. I hated cheerleaders and here I was in blue and white talking about “Y-E-L-L, Y-E-L-L, Everybody yell go West Po go West Po” when what I should have really been doing was focusing on how I would become the first girl to play in the NFL. My priorities were messed up and I was focusing on what would get boys to notice me rather than doing things that I actually would enjoy.
Did I also mention that I was dealing with a sexual orientation issue as well? Shit was really real. I was attracted to boys but on the low “experimenting” with girls. I didn’t know what to make of that, but I knew I would cry my eyes out if anyone knew what was going down at the sleepovers. I was an ass woman too so I had to control my urges to want to look at a big ol booty walking by, like damn that girl is poisonnnnn! Seriously I hated myself for it but at the same time I couldn’t make any sense of it and I didn’t have anyone to talk to about it because it was one of my darkest secrets. I dealt with rejection from crusty dusty little boys that never deserved my time in the first place, and from AGs who I tried to use as my test dummies to see if me being gay was really a thing. Whenever rejection came I would immediately tie it to how I looked, and would constantly compare myself to the girls who made it as “girlfriends.” My insecurities on top of all the other things I held inside started to become overwhelming and I needed an escape so I began cutting my wrist. It wasn’t the best idea but it worked for me. It stopped some of my nights of crying, and allowed the blade to kiss my wrist and take my pain down the drain.
I allowed myself to be in a friend group that wasn’t conducive to the things I was going through. Caught myself dimming my own light in order to be apart because apparently there was no way that I could be great too, right? So I would remain mute to people who would openly embarrass me and call themselves my friends, but in return I was a bitch to the friends who were always there to lift me up. In high school I started sneaking my godmoms Malibu after a long day at school and I would drink and cry because I was running out of long sleeve shirts to cover up my cuts. College was a completely different ball game for the things that I was dealing with. Of course it was college so everyone was getting lit almost seven days a week, but for me behind closed doors I was using alcohol to cope with the things that I didn’t want to deal with. I wasn’t drinking hard liquor all week but I probably had a bottle of wine a day. I used alcohol to sleep, to hang out with boys/girls I was interested in, and to be social. Alcohol became my confidence booster and my escape from reality.
You know how when Beyonce hits the stage she turns into Sasha Fierce? Well when I was intoxicated that was my confidence booster and I felt fearless. I couldn’t find the strength to face the things that I was running from. I didn’t know where to start in learning how to truly unconditionally love myself. I had so much hate in my heart for people who I felt abandoned me, and everyone else was the blame for everything I went through. I was silent about the dark that I was hiding in, and the only person that knew half of what I was going through was my bestfriend at the time. She saw me spiraling and became my voice of reason. She would throw my bottles of wine away hidden behind my bed, and would call me out on my shit when I wasn’t dealing with myself. I should’ve been on somebody’s couch, but my ignorance believing the stigma of being viewed as “crazy” deterred me from getting some help I really needed. To sum myself up in a nutshell I was a pretender. I was the person on Facebook preaching about self-love, what people deserved, letting go of the past, how to live the Christian life, and all that good stuff. When in my reality I was scared to live in my own skin. I didn’t know who I was because I was never really myself, and I didn’t think people would really like whoever the real me was. I allowed myself to have sex with people and would disappear in the act, and cry about it later because I knew inside that I didn’t mean anything to them. I mistreated my body and didn’t treat it as the temple it was. I was disappointed in myself because I knew that all the unconditional love I wanted was in me and God. Instead of dealing with that I sought out validation in everyone around me, unhealthy relationships, likes on social media, and anything else that I thought could fill my emptiness.
What caused a changed in me? What was the mile marker for me to finally begin to face myself and grow up? Well I was tired of allowing people to handle me however they wanted and not opening my mouth about the things that bothered me. I was so ready to cut people off when they wouldn’t handle me the way I wanted them to but never opened my mouth to express it. I didn’t want to live the life of a victim anymore. I wanted to truly become the director of my life and create my story and not let my past succumb my life. I was tired of being unhappy and I wanted to know how it genuinely felt to be happy and mean it. Sophomore year in college I found myself in a Race and Ethnic class with Dr. Zoe Spencer (If you go to Virginia State don’t sell yourself short take her classes they’re life changing) who for the first time opened my eyes to truly falling in love with being a black woman. I then started to develop an amazing relationship with my Aunt Desirea who was always reminding me how amazing I was, how important it was for me to stand in my truth, and putting me on to so many different lessons in life. Standing in my truth brought me back to my poetry because it allowed me to be raw in who I was. I no longer felt ashamed because there was nothing that anyone could say because I was finally free from the chains of judgement and shame. In the words of one of my favorite authors Alexandra Elle I finally learned to “love myself in all ways, always.”