Friday, July 1, 2022

My Alternative Lifestyle: I’ve Got the Power

frustrated woman
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*I never thought in a million years that I would become the person I needed but never had when I was a little girl. Coming out in the early ’80s at the age of thirteen, without any role models who looked like me, was difficult. And yet, I felt a sense of power in acknowledging that level of self-awareness at such an early age.

Recently, my sister pointed out that I have become my own hero. Just the thought seemed incredible, almost arrogant. I hesitantly looked up the definition of “hero.” One of Merriam-Webster’s dictionary definitions describes “hero” as one who shows great courage. The word courage jumped off the page. Yes, that is what I have shown. When faced with the heaviness of hopelessness and despair, I have displayed courage, perseverance, and power. I laugh at myself for giving hardships a soundtrack, but at that moment, the song “The Power” by the ‘90s group Black Box popped into my head: it’s gettin’ kinda heavy… gettin’, gettin’, gettin’ kinda heavy … I’ve got the power!

I’m in awe of how the psyche holds on to the most minute things that stay with us forever. When I was a young girl, my mother used to throw out clichés whenever I said something discouraging or self-defeating. Give it to God, God is an on-time God and God is not going to give you more than you can handle. At the time, I thought she was simply trying to make me feel better. As I matured into a woman, I realized that she was right.

I look back on the past fifteen years of my life and realize how blessed I am. I faced the battle of my life during those fifteen years. I was diagnosed with a rare brain disease, suffered a stroke, had to learn how to walk again, lost my job, lost my independence and my self-worth, and went through a devastating divorce. I have always considered myself a spiritual being versus religious. Yet, I instinctively questioned my mother’s words, thinking, how strong does God want me to be? I don’t think I can handle another thing. I had no choice but to be still as I surrendered to God’s will and not my own.

happy woman
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When people would declare that they wouldn’t change a thing after enduring horrible circumstances, I used to question their sincerity. Now, I understand. Those tests were my testimonies. The fact that I am still here means God is still working on me. There is more I have been chosen to do. That assignment could simply be to raise kind, loving and compassionate grandchildren. Perhaps I was chosen to be a voice for those who feel as if they don’t have a voice. Instead of trying to change my circumstances, perhaps my assignment is to simply change myself. There is power in that revelation.

My spirit is often weary and although I may bend, I refuse to break. I have learned to turn my challenges into my motivation. I once read that what defines us is how well we rise after falling. Back at the rehabilitation center after my stroke, I managed to drag my legs with a walker during a physical therapy session. Inch by inch, I passed the nurse’s station and surprised one of the nurses.

She chuckled. “Whoa. You better slow down, Miss Pickett,” she said.

I responded cheerfully, “I love ya’ll but I gotta get up out of here! I ain’t got time to be feeling sorry for myself.”

I’ve come to realize that it doesn’t matter many times you fall as long as you get back up. Still, I often feel like I’m stumbling toward a finish line where the tape is moved further and further beyond my reach. When I want to give up or feel as if I cannot go on, I remind myself why I started. I no longer question what God ultimately has in store for me. I continue to prepare myself to receive the blessings I prayed for.

woman using laptop
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Those fifteen years were tough, but with prayer and perseverance, I have recreated myself. I am now a published author. The sequel to my first novel is currently in the production stage. I write LGBTQ lifestyle articles for multiple media outlets. My next endeavor is to write a screenplay based on my first novel. I remind myself that success doesn’t happen overnight. For two years after the divorce, I grieved over a life I thought I would have, only to begin a new one that I never imagined. I may not be where I want to be but, thank God, I’m not where I used to be.

I am often asked by closeted acquaintances why I feel the need to broadcast my sexual identity. I explain that my sexual identity is only a small part of who I am. I am a God-fearing mother, grandmother, daughter, and sister; a committed friend; a hard worker; and a former Army medic who served my country faithfully. It breaks my heart to read news headlines where young boys and girls have committed suicide because they were bullied for being gay or lesbian. It breaks my heart when transgender women are brutally raped and murdered because of their gender expression. It breaks my heart when lesbian couples are murdered and disposed of like garbage. Little girls and boys, women and men, all of society needs to see and know women like me, women who unapologetically live authentic lives no matter how daunting the journey.

I hope to become a beacon of light for those who suffer in silence. I want my grandchildren to know that I am true to myself, and know me by my actions and not my words. I pray they will love and respect me for my choices and the courage it took to make them. I hope that they won’t have to face the same struggles I did to recognize the power in themselves.

Monika Pickett (headshot)
Monika Pickett

Monika M. Pickett is a veteran of the United States Army. Her debut novel, PRETTY BOY BLUE, will be available on Amazon on June 9, 2017. Pickett is an advocate and activist for the LGBTQ community. For more information please visit, For other inquiries email




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