Girl Interrupted: How Brandi Got Her Self-Love Back

My Self-Love Journey: If I were honest…
By Brandi Davis

If I were honest…I used to live life as a scared 12-year-old girl until I learned to love myself…

You see by the age of 12, I had dealt with various things that shaped how I viewed myself.

Sexual Abuse

By 12, my body was more developed than most girls my age. I was teased about my breasts, so I gave them a nickname. You can’t tease after I took over the narrative. I was also heavier than my friends. It was probably only by 5 or 10 lbs, but I noticed it and I wanted, so badly, to be thin like them.

My best friend at the time was always complimented on her “good hair.” I remember asking her, “How do you get your hair so curly?”

Her response, “my mom uses grease and water.”

That next morning, I tried it and FAILED. My hair was still my grade of hair, or “bad.” No self-love.

Unlike my curly-haired friend, I had short, super thick hair. My mom had to hot comb most mornings just to braid or pull into a ponytail. I complained, so my sister gave me a “sew-in.” I remember, my teacher rubbing her hand over my head as if to say, “There’s no way you grew this much hair over the summer.”

I felt so exposed. No self-love.

By age 12, everyone had their crush. I was never my crush’s type. Yeah, I know we were 12, but he didn’t like me. No one likes the girl that’s a tomboy. I compared myself to others and I thought something had to be wrong with me.

No self-love.

By 12, I had been sexually abused, by an older cousin and I felt as if it was my fault. I must have done something for him to touch me. Then I felt ashamed and I was too scared to tell my parents.

My family didn’t find out about the abuse until I was 31; it took me almost 20 years to speak up. You see, I got tired of seeing this person and pretending that I was okay. I was angry. I finally spoke up for myself but I still felt bad.

By 12, I was emotionally frozen. I was the smart mouth kid that would cuss you and your mother out. I was angry because of how I felt about myself. Others thought I just had an attitude OR she’s a Capricorn, pay her no attention.

Little did they know, I didn’t pay attention to myself; I was invisible. I had no regard for others or myself. No self-love.

By high school, I had more popular friends and I always the funny/cool one. I only knew how to be smart.

I wasn’t the sexy-dresser. I remember one day, freshman year, I tried to be “sexy,” and it was major failure. It felt like everyone noticed. I felt exposed, yet again. No self-love.

Around this same time, I started drinking because it was easy to get. That habit landed me in the ER with alcohol poisoning. I felt like an embarrassment to my family. I felt shame for them. No self-love.

Emotional Abuse

Fast forward to college. I started dating an older guy. He was cool, funny and, um, older. He had a good job and his own car. I was sold. Well, he was also a playboy. I tried to front like I wasn’t the one for that BS. HA! Time served: 8 years and 3 kids; 2 during our relationship and NONE of them mine. No self-love.

We went to counseling. Even enjoyed learning the tango while working out our, well MY issues. BUT, CHILE, I had to wake up.

And I left.

Workplace Abuse

After I graduated from college, I started working for a major Black-owned publishing company, in Chicago. Yeah, that one.

I was soooo excited, but couldn’t figure out why they picked me. Everyday was like a weekend at grandma’s with your favorite cousins. My time there was exciting but damaging.

As an artist, I was challenged. Not in a creative way, but as if did I not really know what I was doing. I was never good enough because someone always had a friend that they wanted in my position. Every project came with a fight to prove that I knew what I was doing.

After years of that, they won. I began to doubt that I did know what I was doing and I gave up. Give them what they want. I was miserable, but didn’t think I could make it anywhere else.

Fear had me. Fear controlled my entire life. I couldn’t leave this great job. It’s a great company. I was underpaid, but at least I had a job. I was disrespected, but at least I had a job. I wasn’t happy, but at least I had a job. I took two steps back. No self-love.

Monday, February 28, 2011, I had a life-changing accident at work. I received electric shock while plugging up my computer. My coworker drove me to the hospital. They monitored me, and released me that evening.

While at home in pain, I still tried to work, because I felt obligated to the company. By Friday, I was over the obligation.

The pain was very present.

That Sunday was the first time in over a decade that I attended church. I never felt I needed church for a relationship with God. Well, that day, I NEEDED them both.

January 29, 2011, I was on my way to the worker’s comp doctor when I was involved in a car accident on the Dan Ryan. I was the last car hit in a 5-car/semi-truck collision. I suffered a concussion. Another low moment.

For 18 months, I was healing from emotional and physical damage from car accident, electric shock, and worker’s comp. I experienced more pain than ever, and I had hit so many lows. I had to defend my pain; I had to defend my sanity. I didn’t think I would ever design again…it hurt too much. (Editor’s note: Brandi Davis is a talented graphic artist. Scroll through her portfolio in the photo gallery below.)

Fighting Back

I joined a women’s group, at my counselor’s suggestion. They were (and still are) very supportive. My family, friends and random encounters provided comfort. Yet, I wanted to give up.

Until a small voice said, “Go to prayer service.”

I got a friend to join me. That night, I knew that God loved me. (I’m cried as I wrote the words you’re reading now).

As a woman was praying, she walked up to me and said that a diagnosis for my constant pain would come forth. I didn’t share this with my friend, but that is exactly what I wanted to hear.

Three weeks later, I was diagnosed with RSD, Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy and a treatment plan was set. I had to take painful numbing injections in my neck and back for three weeks. What did I have to lose?

I was already down to my last hope. I was kicked off worker’s comp because they said I was making up my illness. I was fired from the job. My accounts were all at ZERO. I couldn’t afford my last car payment. MY LAST CAR PAYMENT! Thank God for my father.

So, REALLY, what did I have to lose? I wanted another chance. I wanted to design again. Self-love was slowly creeping in.

The treatment worked and I felt much better. I was also cleared to get back to work.

One night, I applied to a job on my phone. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was for CareerBuilder as a web designer for one of their products. They gave me a 2nd chance and I will forever be grateful to them. God gave me what I needed in that moment. My first day, I knew I wanted to stay.

It was to be a 3-month contract. My contract was extended over a total of 2+ years. This was the first job that made me feel welcomed and respected. They would always say, “What do you think? You’re the expert. We trust your decision.” That felt good. They supported me. Self-love was slowly creeping in.

Career was great, but the insecure 12-year-old was still hanging around. And she had to go.  I was exhausted from carrying her around. I wanted better, so I got myself a life coach.

Monique Spence posts often on Facebook about positive thinking; well, all I knew was negative thoughts, but I was intrigued. I joined her group calls and did a couple of one-on-one sessions.

I was putting in work, along with my women’s group.

January of 2015 was the first time that I felt self-love. I was at Burning Bowl.

Reclaiming My Life

At the age of 33, I finally knew what I wanted; who I was…I loved myself. I moved out of my parent’s home into my dream condo. YES, I was that fearful. I couldn’t leave my comfort zone.

I was beginning to manifest my desires. In all of my life, the age of 33 felt damn good. I turned 34 in December; this year was going to be great! Then, my work situation changed.

January 14, 2016, I was informed that my contract was ending 5 months early. January 29 would be my last day.

Was I shocked? No. I knew my time had come to an end in November, but I stayed because it was familiar. (Doesn’t this sound familiar?)

Was I sad? Yes. I was part of an awesome family. We lunched. We laughed. We’ve even cried together; they supported me when my godson, Deionte, was murdered in September, and I was definitely sad.

On the flip side, I was super EXCITED!

For months, God placed on me that I should focus more on BDavis Designs LLC. Every time the thought entered, I allowed fear to push it away. During the Christmas holiday, I said to myself, “Brandi, it’s time to get focused.”

However, I continued to drag my feet.

Well, God has a way of pushing my hand. And that’s exactly what he did, that Thursday morning.

My manager encouraged me to pursue what I love (and to do standup; my compromise is to blog more lol).

I mourned the loss, and then I got it together.

Fear had no place in my life. At church service, one of the pastors stated: “I cannot call myself a follower of Christ and live in a constant state of fear.” SAY THAT!

In that same service, “my neighbor” told me that God gave her a message for me. Her exact words, “This is your window of opportunity. You are to focus on your business or company. Does any of that make sense for you?”

My response through tears, “YES, it’s confirmation. Thank you!”

I began my faith walk toward working for myself. I want to be my own boss. I want to design. I want to succeed. I want greater. I expect greater and it is so. Self-love.

That has been my inner chant. Monday, February 8, 2016, I become my own BAWSE! Self-love.

Will there be rocky times? Yes. Will I allow fear to stop me? NO! God has my back and has never failed me. I am, FINALLY, following my purpose that God has for me: Designing and spreading my faith. Self-love.

That 12-year-old girl is NOW a grown, confident, funny, creative and loving entrepreneur that loves a good basketball game and dance battles. Self-love.

I love my hair and MANY hairstyles. I love being active and getting in my FitBit steps. I also, love a good dessert. I love a nice graphic body con dress or Ankara print skirt or a great pair of sneakers. I love every part of me that makes me unique. Self-love.

I am ready for this moment in life! I am ready to love and be loved! I am ready to succeed! I am ready for greater. I AM READY! Self-love.

Self-Love is refreshing. I can’t believe it took me this long, but I wouldn’t change the journey.

Self-love.

I’m grateful for those that helped me along this journey, even those that had to fall off. God truly blessed me with a village. From family, friends, women’s group, life coach (and community), co-workers, Facebook, and random angels that seem to find me everywhere.

I am blessed beyond measure; I just had to start loving me.

I mean, who can love you better than God and yourself?! * in my Keith Sweat voice * NOBODY!

SELF-LOVE. Get you some. It feels good.

Thank you, God! More, Please!

PS. If I were honest…I have forgiven myself, my cousin, my ex and anyone else that I placed blame for my lack of love. I’m free!

Brandi Davis is a talented graphic artist. Scroll through her portfolio in the photo gallery below. Connect with Brandi here. Follow Brandi on Facebook.

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