“She feared that if she became who she really was; before life happened to her. Before she was forced to create her own narrative for the course of her life, she may not be loved by those she loved the most and it might change life for her as she knew it. She was excellent at giving advice on self awareness and taking your life back but she never took hers. She told a story that kept her sane so much her truth became a façade of her reality. Because if she really took back her life, it would mean taking back all the times where she mistook being passive in her own life for being victimized for fear that she may not be as perfect as she would like to be. It would mean that as good as she was, she accepts that she could do bad all by herself”

An excerpt from “Becoming She”

                                                                                                                                           Ijiebor Freda

This time last year, I spent it in a hotel all by myself. I booked the biggest suite, ordered the best food they had on the menu in addition to a bottle of wine because why not, I had accepted that I was all by myself so why not act like it. I took a dive into the pool that night and it was like the old Freda drowned in it. That was the night I promised to never let myself go, to give people the version of me that I could control, to never be caught off guard wearing my heart on my sleeves ( I was dramatic I know).  The longer I spent doing this, the harder it became to keep in touch with myself. I was so hurt I told myself no more. You see when you start to foster the habit of staying behind closed doors to avoid hurt; you also avoid happiness because you cannot feel one without the other. So on a path to prevent hurt, being happy became harder. I second guessed everyone who came into my life. I needed to know what they wanted, why they were here, what they were trying to take from me if they already hadn’t.  I became uptight, defensive and sometimes just plain mean. I had allowed events in my past to dictate how I reacted in the future and while sometimes this is okay, as soon as it starts to eat away from your happiness it becomes detrimental to your well being.

This habit snuck into other areas of my life. Since everyone wanted to take from me and reap where they did not sow, I also started to think maybe I didn’t deserve love unless I earned it. I started trying to earn Gods love (this is virtually impossible). I believed if I prayed for a set period of time, fasted a particular way and acted in a certain manner, God was sure to reward me. At work, I started doing overtime when I didn’t need to. I put my body under severe stress and fell ill back to back all because I was trying to prove to myself that all I was getting was what I deserved. I went into a depressing cycle that my life became filled with mere passing days. I forgot what it was to be truly happy.

No sooner than later, I was tired of being miserable. No matter how “normal” I tried to be to people around me, the side to me that should’ve been my reality started to creep out and they’d notice. It was exhausting trying to defend why I couldn’t be the person they truly saw. I realized that sometimes the key to being you and being happy is to allow yourself feel love; to love and be loved because the foundation of all that we are is because God so loved the world. We didn’t deserve what Jesus did but accepting it and all the opposition that may come with believing in who He is and what He’s done is what makes life worth living.

If being you is putting your heart on your sleeves, screaming at the top of your lungs and embracing whoever walks into your life whether they’ve come to stay or not (which is really me) or even if it is being quiet and introverted then let it be so. In my opinion, we all have to grow the kind of heart and mind that lets us handle whatever and whoever we are. If you wear your heart and you love easily then guard it and all you are that flows from it because when the love is thrown in your face, you would have developed the capacity to put yourself together. I didn’t have to change who I was or alter the course of my life because of a bad turn out, I simply needed to guard my heart in a way that lets me be who I am regardless of who I’m dealing with without losing myself.

This is what makes grace so important to me because when I truly found Jesus and allowed myself to be loved by Him, it revealed all of those hurt and growing pains that were bottled up inside. We can allow ourselves to wish all day long that we never experienced the things that hurt us or changed us but then we wouldn’t come into the realization of the people we really are. Loving beyond the hurt is one of the strengths of the heart. Don’t be who you’re not trying to protect yourself because in a bid to protect yourself, you limit yourself from feeling all you should feel and being all you can be. Live and love a little and when you can, live and love some more.



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