Saturday, May 18, 2024

My Alternative Lifestyle: But God

*I am ashamed to admit that I did not know God until I knew God.

I remember my mother teaching me to say the Lord’s Prayer when I was a little girl. I would get on my knees at night and repeat her words: Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. As I matured, I struggled to differentiate between religion and spirituality.

I always considered myself to be more spiritual than religious. I am more concerned with fulfilling God’s will versus my own. A mental filmstrip of memories – trauma, bullying, rejection and grief – rushes to the forefront of my mind. Those life experiences brought me to who I am today. As I approached my fifty-second birthday, I realized that my life has come full circle and it is nothing but God.

Photo Credit: Banks Photography

If I had to do it all over again, I would. It would be worth the pain because it all makes sense now. I had to grow through those experiences to become who I am becoming. I reminisce about my dreams of becoming a journalist as a freshman at Norfolk State University when I had dreams of writing for a big city newspaper. Yet, I was often saddened as I turned the glossy pages of African-American-targeted magazines.  I never saw articles about women like me, women who loved like me.  African American Lesbians were not highlighted in those pages. I wondered if they existed. Didn’t they have the same hopes and dreams as heterosexual women? Why weren’t their stories shared? I wanted to become a writer who could give the heterosexual world a glimpse into mine. My world was no different than that of my straight sister’s. I also had hopes and dreams. I wanted a family and children, just as she did. The only difference was that my sister wanted a husband and I wanted a wife.

When I did not see women like me, I didn’t think they existed. You cannot become what you do not see. I envied my heterosexual counterparts for being able to move through the world without having to repress their existence. I began to doubt myself. I didn’t think I was good enough, smart enough. As a result, I dropped out of college.  Life happened. Working entry-level jobs was a sobering wake-up call as I quickly learned how difficult it was trying to maintain a decent livelihood without an education. That was not the life I wanted for myself. Enlisting in the United States Army gave me the discipline, confidence and determination that I lacked. I vowed to have it all: an education, a wife, a child and a family. In time, I obtained all those dreams.

When I became the first woman in my circle of lesbian friends to become a mother, I was actually shunned. I lost friends who questioned my sexuality: Are you straight now? Oh, so now you’re representing the “B” (Bisexual) in LGBTQ and not the “L” (Lesbian)? I am grateful that at a very early age, God gave me a healthy sense of self-awareness. I never allowed myself to be labeled or put into a box. I wanted to become a mother and I did not have to seek anyone’s approval. Period. End of story.

I began a pattern of entering unhealthy relationships with women where I dimmed my light in exchange for adulation. My spirit diminished the longer I stood in their shadows. I realized that I was the common dominator in all those failed relationships. I had lost myself.

And yet … I’m still standing. The diagnosis of an incurable brain disorder gave me an indomitable will to survive. The grief from a devastating divorce fueled my determination to succeed.  Emotionally, I felt like Uma Thurman in the movie Kill Bill, slashing demons with a Samurai sword. I could hear the sound of the sword each time I slew a demon: ”Swing … Swing … Swing!”

Photo Credit: Mariondesigns

My faith has never wavered. In three short years, God has allowed me to discover myself. I rejoice in recreating myself as my second novel is released this month. I find strength in knowing that I am creating a legacy, not only for myself but for my grandchildren. I am empowered as I learn to love myself as I have loved others. I will not be distracted in becoming who I think God wants me to become.

Recently, a friend asked me if I’m dating anyone. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. “Girl, please, I’m dating my damned credit score! How about that?” Finding humor in trying times makes things less daunting.

Now when I review that imaginary filmstrip of my life, I smile when I realize that I have survived things that should have shattered my hopes and dreams. Not only could things be worse but they have been worse … But God.

MonikaPickettPhoto
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, www.PrettyBoyBlue.com. For other inquiries email [email protected].

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