So, I put my tree up this past weekend. My Christmas tree that is. Yup, you heard me right! It’s the first week of November and my tree is up. I pulled out all the Christmas music I had and sang and danced away whilst guzzling a giant glass of egg nog. I’ve even started watching Christmas movies. Yes my fellow yuletiders, my halls have officially been decked. And I make no apologies. (And if you feel the need to antagonize me or anyone else about putting their tree up early, you’re now on my naughty list. And not the good kind).
I know I sound super excited right now about the holidays but at one point I had actually considered not putting any decorations up at all this year. At the end of this month it’s the one year anniversary of my boys being gone. November 24th to be exact. And right before the Holidays! Talk about the ‘Grinch Who Stole Christmas’…or everything for that matter. So gross. This year coming up is just a reminder of what happened and this seemingly never ending vortex of hell that I still find myself in with their father over the last 12 months. Nobody is more anticipating saying goodbye to 2018 more than me. I went through a phase of thinking “why should I bother putting the tree up? Or any decorations at all? There’s gonna be no-one here to enjoy them but me. No presents under my tree. No cuddling on the couch, all snuggled up watching Christmas movies. No baking Christmas themed shortbread cookies.”
But then, I had another thought. A feeling actually, that rose up inside of me. An “I’ve had enough” type of feeling. This guy has already taken what was most important to me, my children. And on top of that, I now have a lawyer to pay for which has emptied my bank account. And going even further, he has caused so much damage emotionally and mentally both to myself and my children. He’s literally come in and taken all of my stuff. Like a fox in a hen house meets bull in a china shop. Thief! Nothing but chaos and destruction. I thought to myself, “the absolute nerve!”
At that point I decided, I’m not gonna let this person or this situation take any more of my stuff, and that includes my love for the holidays. Or anything else for that matter! Because if that’s the case, they win. If I allow other people or my situations to change who I am negatively or what I love in my life, it’s having the exact desired effect that they were hoping for. To see me curled up on the floor, lethargic and paralyzed by grief or depression. They get a sadistic thrill out of it and I won’t allow it.
There is a poem that I absolutely love. It’s by a woman named Ntozake Shange. The poem is called “Somebody Almost Walked Off Wid Alla My Stuff.” (It’s an odd title but bare with me here a moment.) It was written in the 1970’s as part of a theatre piece that consists of 20 separate poems choreographed to music that weaves interconnected stories of love, empowerment, struggle and loss into a complex representation of sisterhood. (Tyler Perry turned this into a movie called ‘For Coloured Girls” back in 2010 for those who are interested.)
In this particular poem, the woman reciting it is essentially saying that she had allowed someone to walk off with all of her stuff for too long and now she wants it all back. She is the only one who knows and can appreciate all of her stuff. She recognizes the level of value that she has. When I read this poem, to me it’s saying that sometimes we allow people to take things that don’t belong to them. We’ve given them too much power. Their words have carried too much weight when they actually don’t deserve to have a voice or space in our head at all.
You see, someone has to earn that spot in your head. They have to earn the right to be heard when it comes to the affairs of your life. And they have to earn your time, your emotions, your feelings, your heart. All of it is earned. Not something that is taken. And if we find that it indeed has been taken, more often than not it is because we have allowed them to have it. Perhaps we never learned to stand up for ourselves. Or perhaps someone’s words or actions beat us down so badly that we forgot our own value.
I have definitely experienced seasons of not knowing how valuable I was. Not having any self love or self respect. I made choices I would never make today had I to do it all over again. I didn’t realize it at the time but I was breaking my own heart in the process because of it. Knowing the value of who we are and what we have is crucial. It means setting boundaries. It means putting your foot down and saying “no”. It means walking away from something or someone that you love because it compromises how valuable you were created to be. It means telling your emotions to sit down and shut up so that you can push forward towards even the possibility of hope rather than stay in the same foul gutter you’ve called ‘home’ for God knows how long.
Sometimes it takes hitting rock bottom to realize our own value. To finally be sick and tired of being sick and tired and say enough is enough. I won’t allow anyone to get away with all of my stuff. My mind, my emotions, my heart, my joy, my peace, everything I’ve worked so hard for. I won’t allow other people to make me as ugly as they are. I won’t allow a broken heart to tell me what to do or where to go or how or when to celebrate…well…anything!
You can’t have any of my stuff! And that includes another Christmas!
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go pour myself another glass of eggnog, turn on my cozy fireplace, light up my tree and curl up with a good book or watch one of my favourite movies! Because it brings me joy. Because that’s MY stuff!