By Kenyatta, Formerly Known as KeSera
From the very beginning…everybody always wanted something from me. Either it was my mind, my body, what I do, the rewards of what I do, etc.
I never felt loved.
A sharp pain erupted through my temples where a bandage bled red onto an unfamiliar place of rest. I was in jail, vaguely recalling the cause.
The evening prior was supposed to be a night of celebration; I received a new position in a field that I had no technical training in, yet somehow I managed to flourish.
God blessed me with intellect.
At the time, I moved from Chicago to Lake County and I was truly excited about the new life I had an opportunity to build. The city was controlling me and I was ready for an out. Besides, I wanted to give my then 3-year-old sun, a chance to live.
On the evening in question, I was having a few drinks with my cousin and a friend of hers. That night I was harassed by an officer in the military; he spit in my face and shouted racial slurs. I had a choice to make: call the police or get violent. I chose the latter.
If you know me, it didn’t end well for him…or me for that matter. You can move me out of the hood but physically moving is not going to remove the hood from me. One would say the fact that I was a certified thug and a business professional balanced each other out. I beg to differ. I mean, I learned a lot in the streets but I was a hot head.
My decision to get violent resulted in my facing 15 years for Double Aggravated Battery with intent to commit bodily harm with a firearm; which subsequently, after an expensive trial, was dropped down to a single battery. This was ONLY due to the fact I was in college with a 3.9 GPA, no prior convictions and cried all during court. Self-defense.
God gave me another chance during those proceedings that I would soon take advantage of over and over again. Right after I was released; I was right back to drinking–like it never happened.
Drinking and smoking weed had become tools of a familiar comfort as my life transitioned in many different directions. After the court case, it was still hard for me to find a good/permanent job due to the background checks.
The next few years were rough. Still fighting off the inner G that kept popping up and sticking its finger in this mosh posh of a life I had. I was all over the place. I couldn’t find my foothold in this novel town after this court case. I eventually packed up and moved further north to Wisconsin. I became so withdrawn and lonely during this time that I went back to what was a familiar comfort. By this time, I had acquired a taste and ‘feeling’ from alcohol that I began to desire regularly. I was drinking from sun up to sundown; surprisingly enough, I was able to go for YEARS undetected.
Over the next few years I would live an uncontrolled kind of life if you will. The one thing that kept me from falling totally off the cliff was the fact that responsibility was placed heavily in my heart and no matter how messed up things were, I was always taking care of business.
I found success in some jobs but none were long lasting; two years or less. I felt like my name was ‘Can’t Get Right’ because God would put me in some of the best positions that I couldn’t seem to retain due to causes that ALWAYS felt like they weren’t created by my own devices.
It began to seem like no matter how much I tried, the ‘hood’ in me was in charge; almost like a defense mechanism. I was a very no nonsense type of person who rarely dealt with emotions unless they were, what I felt as, warranted emotions/reactions. I was scorn. I hid things deep inside.
I never felt feminine by no means, really. Lost my TRUE virginity to an older woman and eventually dated women 15 years straight; taking on the role of the aggressor. It’s all I knew. It just felt right. I later found out that no matter how ‘right’ it felt, none of it was. I was out of control doing what I wanted and when I wanted. Funny thing about me is, my responsibilities never fell to the wayside. Another blessing. At this point in my life… NOTHING but GOD was keeping me alive!
I eventually found a job through a temp services that hired me permanently based on my academics in college, my willingness to learn and the fact that I worked hard and was dedicated. Why not; their internal HR attorneys overlooked my court case and gave me the opportunity to prove myself. I proved myself alright. I proved that I was still the SAME misguided soul I had always been regardless of what God was showing me and doing in my life. I was a victim of pattern living. So came “going through the motions.” I was playing both sides in my mind only to survive. Why was this happening to me?
Going through the motions for me meant I tried to behave as if everything was okay. I had a job with benefits and bonuses, a wife, my sun was the child most parents were in awe of, and we had two incomes which allowed for travel and many recreational activities.
In the eyes of others; life was perfect. I still wasn’t right, though. I was worse.
She, and others, began using me and taking advantage of my kindness because it became clearly apparent to them that I was seriously trying to be a good girl. I eventually became a bitter asshole because no matter how much success I had or positive changes I made, I was still viewed as the thug/worthless/dead inside. I wanted them all to love me but for the life of me, I couldn’t get from underneath that stigma so I was like, why not be a disregarding ass. I changed my name to Ke-Sera and lived as such; whatever will be will be. To top it off, jealousy of my individual accomplishments throughout life, created wedges in relationships. It was all driving me crazy. So you know what I did, I drank and drank some more which eventually spilled all over my world.
Driving with one eye open, I stomped hard on the breaks to avoid a pedestrian. The sound of my heartbeat sang melodic hymns of fear as it began to harmonize with the clinking sounds underneath my seats. You would think that after falling asleep at the stop light in Skokie, of all places, and attaining a DUI months prior, that I would stop. I didn’t. There were beer cans everywhere; in the armrest, under the seat, in the trunk, all over my night stand at home, each of the garbage cans were full…of beer cans and alcohol bottles.
I was falling apart at the seams. I cried out for help but was given the football arm of tolerance and was told, “You are strong, and you will get over it.” I heard that so much in my life that I coached myself into thinking I could. No one ever knew I was broken down in the inside; I needed love.
I had most recently lost my job of almost ten years. I was fired because I was wrongfully accused of “cheating on my time card.” Like for real; they said I cheated on my time card.
I was making about $71,000 annually, with bonuses, yet accused of stealing $400 worth of time. See why I said, “FOREAL!?!” I was working for one of longest standing Pharmaceutical companies in the world and had worked my way up from File Clerk – Contract Management to Executive Assistant to a divisional Vice President. It felt as if this was the place I would retire; it was all over.
That was not true.
Transition of the company due to changes in the health care laws created a plateau of fear as the company was laying off as well as going through a major restructure to comply with costs and new provisions. My current VP was demoted and I received a new one. He didn’t like me from the start. It was all downhill from there. It became hellish to work there and they knew I didn’t like it. I was taken advantage of real bad after that and then fired under, State noted, false pretenses. I, to this day, think this is karma for me taking advantage of my role by drinking before work and never getting caught; and all the other stupid things I did knowing I wouldn’t get CAUGHT.
I began to feel as if I was cursed.
I lost everything down to my socks. I was homeless, wife and I were no more and I had to unnervingly move my sun to Chicago to finish school. I couldn’t take care of him anymore. They fought my unemployment tooth and nail for months. I had no income. I would go on to experience the worst three years of my life. I turned into a monster. I was so angry at life, so withdrawn from everything. I was alone, AGAIN, and deeply misunderstood.
I just wanted someone to love and understand me.
I eventually turned to the stage and clung to Ke-Sera’s persona. Why not; it worked at the time. Notice I never said, “I turned to God.” I just kept trying to repair everything on my own. It was almost like I can hear the words “you still haven’t learned yet, I see.”
It was during my time in the performance realm that I began to perceive and comprehend it all. Every setback was God trying to get my attention to show me where I should be in life and what I was to do with all of the experiences I encountered over the years.
The end result: God wanted all of me and not just what I was willing to give. I had stories to tell that needed to be heard and I had no choice but to comply. Life was finally beginning to make sense.
At first, the stage was a place for me to digress and leave it all, but it ultimately became my plinth of peace and survival. I talked about everything that transpired in my life, in my pieces.
I started to notice that folks were really taking to the realism of my writing, the emotion in my interjections and the power of my projections. I began to be considered for more and more venues that was okay at first but began to drain me.
It wasn’t until mid-performance at a church women’s retreat that I felt the spirit take over me. I cried so hard after that performance. I realized my calling and why my spirit felt led to go back to the stage. I used to be an accomplished performer in Chicago but walked away from it all to find a new life. I had stopped performing years prior. It was time for me to take my appropriate seat. I’m glad I finally adhered to God’s voice that spoke to me thru supporters who would express to me after a performance that my poems spoke directly to them and how my work has brought increase to their sprit. Go figure.
My troubled life and accounts of survival were exactly what was needed to bring them into a mental and emotional state of freedom. Me too. I was trapped there for a very long time and needed to be genuinely loved past these self-created traps.
But, again, I was so rigid on myself that I couldn’t even FORGIVE myself. I eventually found the answers in self, through thine third eye.
God sent me leaders and spiritual assessors, dads, wives, and pastors that I utilized in my journey to peace.
I was sent folks who truly loved on me and let me know it’s okay to not have all the answers. Some let me know it was okay to cry and to be weak if it leads you back to peace. Some were even strong FOR me when I was tired of being strong for myself.
I began to decipher the voice of God talking to me. I began to love…ME!
Over time, with a conscious mind, I started doing research. I reached and prayed. Prayed some more and I forgave myself. I eventually began to forgive others. I went to therapy and literally left it on her couch and in God’s hands. I became more conscious of how I presented myself in the community because as an artist who desires achievement, you have to maintain appropriate positive imagery. Also, as a promising woman of God, I had to be wary of what I do before the eyes of the people and most importantly, the Most High.
I became a mentor and that pushed me to want to be a better illustration of empowerment and strength to those I chance upon. I dropped the name Ke-Sera and went back to my Earth day name; Kenyatta, as I was ready to be accountable for my actions which was the opposite of Ke-Sera. I was sent a man to show me how it feels to be preserved as Queen and accept nothing less. The desire to drink was slowly beginning to fade.
Today, I no longer abuse alcohol. I am still a work in progress. I’m working towards not drinking at all but I haven’t arrived at that plateau yet. Almost.
I can tell you that cans and bottles no longer clink J I no longer yearn to be accepted and I am very comfortable in my skin so the desires to ‘drift off’ are fading.
I have found a balance in my sexuality as I continue to walk in deliverance of the many, MANY demons I once hoarded in my universe as comfort. My pen is now moved to heal and remove; uplift and breathe life.
I am working permanently in the small town that saved me with its nothingness.
I have no choice but to hone in on God’s promise. It was all I had.
I am so removed that I can’t really grasp anything outside of my spiritual alignment. I can honestly say I am truly happy for the first time in my life. Gave it all up, including poetry (for a little while, that is) only get it back triple fold (I am now doing High School tours through my job). My God is a good God. Forgave me to save me so I can teach and heal those still trying to find someone who genuinely cares.
I am still a walking work in progress. Won’t you come take a walk with me?
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