by Marie Antoine, The 2019 Kriyol Dance! Collective Public Voice
About 5 years ago I experienced what I now understand as the inception of a spiritual awakening. I knew then that I had found tools to create peace in all of the darkness that was threatening to consume me, but I did not know that this path would also give me the keys to liberate myself from it.
My intention for this post is to share a glimpse of what it feels like for me to finally come up for air without the anxiety of a looming threat that would eventually pull me back down again. I name the main sources that threatened to drown me; I name the roots; I name the tools I used to set myself free - the time and effort it took and then, I name myself and I name my destiny.
Unpacking comes later. This piece was a commemoration of finally being able to breathe again at my lungs full capacity. And the excitement I feel for feeling so strong after feeling so wary for so long. Rebirth.
I am foremost a servant and a seeker. All other aspects of my identity is secondary, subject to change and a tool for preserving the former. This reclamation is a grand victory in my personal re-evolution because it frees me to prioritize my purpose and my mission, and liberates me from an adopted persona that worked against my growth and success.
You see, for years I identified with a distorted image of myself that I pieced together using projections from others; including family, classmates, and friends. I constantly felt pressure to please others, which I believed would be the key to my salvation. The pain I experienced from childhood trauma, rejection and isolation only worked to foster this belief. Additionally, as a Wombxn, a Fanm Krèyol, and a Melanated Being, I inherit prescribed roles designed to restrain my freedom, limit my potential, and encode my mind with false beliefs that could guarantee my Self destruction.
It took the past five years of shedding and remembering to retrieve and restore my own truths, which speaks to how deeply I relied on my false self and the depth of my disillusionment once the veil was lifted.
I’ve been unlearning, dismantling, rejecting, resisting, rebuilding, reimagining, reconnecting, reintroducing myself over and again to myself. Piecing back fragments, seeking knowledge, being still, taking baby steps, crawling.
At times I was graced with moments of clarity and compassion, but at other times I could not handle the cyclical nature of the healing process and I became weary and impatient of my own traumas. I arrived at many crossroads that I mistook for dead ends, and wished to turn back. And, when I reached the point of no return, I made choices to help me create a new path which I’d hoped would take me back to the starting line. I went on like this for years; unconsciously using great effort to undermine my own development and sabotage forward movement and successfully creating an environment that helped me to remain stagnant. This behavior is a manifestation of generational conditioning, on the collective level, that effectively directs us to choose bondage. We learned to label these self-created confinements as safe, familiar, comforting even. In this period, freedom no longer feels kin to us, so as we approach liberation on the individual level, it often times feels too risky.
Our ability to discern real versus apparent danger has been impaired by centuries of the mental, physical and spiritual war raged against our being. Therefore steps towards self-actualization triggers our fight or flight response and our immediate reactive impulse is to resist, retreat or to attack. When there is real danger looming this reaction is a survival mechanism, but in this case, our perception is skewed to view our own reflection, our own truths and our own tools for liberation as threats to our wellbeing. And so we’re left with choosing between safety and sovereignty. But, how can Self-preservation and freedom lie on opposing sides? That is the trick of babylon; the skillful execution of systems created to control and exploit us.
However, in the same way that we have inherited oppressive habits, we’ve inherited that many more traditions, practices and knowledge to ensure our liberation. These keys are embedded in every aspect of our expression (in our oppressive and our liberated state) which helps us to recognize the collective Self.
I, like many Fanm Kriyol and Melanated Wombxn all over the world, have been venturing deeper into these spaces preserved by our ancestors. And even though these spaces still feel scary and strange to us, we forge ahead anyway, intent on retrieving and re-familiarizing ourselves with the reclaimed data that is leading us back to our personal power and collective evolution. I am a committed seeker and servant of this movement. I am here on a mission to serve my people; Haitians and melanated beings all over the planet, in partnership with my ancestors and spirit guides. I aim to live in harmony with nature and in reverence of mother Earth and all of her inhabitants. I am healing. I am unfolding. I am re-evolutionizing self one breath, one memory and one petition at a time.
How do you answer the following questions:
Who are you? What are you here to do? What/who is holding you back and at what cost?
Sak Rete Ou? (What's Stopping You? in Haitian Creole), holds space for reflections, meditations, poetry, video blogs, and capacity to captivate readers through creative writing. To the question, sak rete ou?, we respond "Nou Se Kriyol!" (We are the Children! in Haitian Creole), implying and calling on the strength, kindness, and revolution of our Haitian ancestors to move forward!