I recently moved into a new house. It was a tiresome week of packing and unpacking, up and down stairs, cleaning and then cleaning again. Of all the things that needed to be done, I dreaded sorting through a big green plastic container that sat on the floor of my closet, untouched for years. That container had moved with me twice without ever being opened.
I remember packing the container in 2006 when I was moving from Miami Beach back to my old neighborhood. I didn’t know exactly what was in the container but I imaged that it contained stuff from the years just before it was packed. A time when my mother and I shared cigarettes by the pool and I woke up on most mornings next to a man who loved me through a lot of things, despite a lot of things―the man I affectionately called, “My Home Team.”
Just as I thought, sorting through the container brought back a lot of fond memories. As I dug through the pictures, cards and notebooks I remembered things that hadn’t crossed my mind since they had happened. It’s like I had put all those memories in that container and sealed them away. I sat on the cold floor inside my closet and cried for the memory of things I knew I would never experience again. It’s 2012 now, my beloved mother is deceased and “My Home Team” has a new home, nowhere near me or my life.
At the bottom of the container were at least a dozen books that I hadn’t read. I was taking them out one by one when I came across Yesterday, I Cried by Iyanla Vanzant. It originally belonged to my mother and had somehow stayed with me for over a decade. With tears running down my cheeks I picked it up and thought to myself, Maybe I should read this tomorrow. I put it in my “keep” pile and decided I would read it when my move was completed.
I remember my mother reading Yesterday, I Cried when I was in high school and I tried to read it right after she did but I couldn’t get into it. I tried reading it again sometime around 2005 and I couldn’t get past the first chapter. Three weeks ago I made my third attempt and that time it stuck. I hate clichés and I especially hate when people say that if something is meant to be it will be. If that were true we would all be aimlessly walking through life waiting for things that were “meant” to happen to just, happen. I believe that things happen when they are sought after and worked towards. This experience, however, was a testament to me that some things really do happen when they are supposed to.
I didn’t understand or appreciate Yesterday, I Cried when I tried to read it before, but I’m at a stage now where I can. My life experiences aren’t very similar to the ones described by the author but I was able to relate to the way her experiences made her feel. The whole book was a comparison to and struggle between the old Rhonda Harris and the new Iyanla Vanzant. These three passages stood out the most to me:
“Often, when you are on a spiritual path, there is a war that goes on between the person you once were and the person you are becoming…The old you, the one who helped you survive, the one that was there for you in rough times, is going to fight to stay alive. The old you knows your secrets and your history. The old you knows your defense mechanisms, what you will do when your buttons get pushed, and exactly where your weaknesses lie. The old you knows what works for you and is terrified by the thought of trying something new…The old you has home-court advantage.”
“When you need to be loved, you take love wherever you can find it. When you are desperate to be loved, feel love, know love, you seek out what you think love should look like.”
“I wanted to prove to her that I was grateful. When you are grateful to someone, you must show it. One way to show it is to let them do whatever they want to you. You let them beat you and don’t fight back; you lie there and let them rape you.”
I could write an entire book on how and why I can relate to these passages so I won’t go into detail on that. Overall, Yesterday, I Cried gave me an explanation for things I’d done and felt in the past. It also reassured me that being at peace and happy with yourself doesn’t mean that you or your family is perfect and that there is nothing wrong with abandoning your past and some people from your past if you believe that’s what’s right for you. There is no obligation to be friends or associated with anyone or anything forever and those changes don’t always have to be made because of a negative force. It’s okay to simply not want to do or be something anymore.
Yesterday, I Cried is the story of a woman who defied the odds and believed in herself enough to become her true self. It’s an in-depth look at how neglected children become careless adults and how that cycle is repeated. It’s a view of love from a heart that’s been damaged and it makes so much sense if you’ve been there before.
Anyway, right now I’m reading A Royal Duty by Paul Burrell. Nothing life changing here, but it is an interesting look into British monarchial life. Until next time…