I remember when life was simple, and my biggest satisfaction was sitting in front of a large plate of homemade baked macaroni and cheese at my grandparents’ house. Sundays were always the most entertaining and fun. They were filled with adventurous car rides with my grandfather behind the wheel of his red Toyota car. Hearing my grandmother fussing in her island accent saying, ‘Oh gosh, watch it nah!’ while my grandfather drove aggressively down the street – was pure enjoyment. I will always remember my childhood innocence. I appreciated everything about my life, my family, and the security of the things I cherished and loved. Those early years were uncomplicated and easy.
Our backyard was filled with my mother’s lush green garden and I would ride my bicycle throughout our backyard until I made a little bicycle track/trail. I did what kids loved to do and I loved life without a care in the world. My world, as best as I can remember, was beautiful. It was not a perfect world, and I don’t want to paint any false perceptions, but it was perfect for me. My Trinidadian parents, I am sure have a different recollection of that time when there were not many people that looked like us and lived in our small city of Homestead, Florida. I am sure they experienced a different world, with different rules, and different biases, but they protected me as best as they could from the things that could negatively affect my life. My parents offered me a sheltered and quiet life experience until I made my acquaintance with the not so friendly world filled with not so nice kids, and what I perceived as larger than life problems.
Based on my upbringing, I was probably the least likely girl to end up addicted to drugs. I didn’t fit the stereotypical “party girl”, I wasn’t from a broken home or “dysfunctional” childhood, but that still did not keep me from experimenting and messing-up over five years of my life. That picturesque upbringing still did not block me from internalizing the hurts and acting out from the rejection I felt from being an outcast in school and being bullied by mean kids. Despite the love and protection that my home provided, it was school that dealt me an awful blow, and scars that carried throughout my adult years.
I did not know back then there was a better way to deal with my problems. I did not realize the seeds of hurt, anger, and disappointment that would sprout up and grow into rage, bitterness, and addiction. But they did. One by one each pain point showed its ugly face until I was left feeling like I did not have anything to live for. Although I am not proud to admit everything I have done, I am proud that I survived it – because there were many nights that my survival and safety was questionable.
I am not much different than you. When I tell you I get you and I understand you, I really do. I understand hiding the skeletons in the closet. I understand living the double-life. I understand being the party-girl that parties too hard and drinks too much until she passes out. I also understand the woman that wants to do better and be a better person. I understand the woman fighting for her life because she knows that her life purpose has not been fulfilled. I understand the woman who wants to be free but at the same time she feels trapped.
The good news is you found me, and I found you through common affinities. As you read this book, I want you to feel safe and comfortable knowing that you have connected with someone that fully gets you and can relate to your struggles. We all need each other, and this is one of the things that makes humanity so great. Our ability to connect transcends all our past choices and we can find hope and healing as a sisterhood. I see you, pretty lady, and although you may not feel pretty right now, you will when you finish reading this book.
I want you to do something for me. I want you to take a deep breath, quiet your thoughts, and connect with me. I want you to hug yourself and say, “I’m going to be okay”, because you will be. You already are. I want you to write a love letter to yourself and tell yourself how amazing you are. You may not hear it often, and saying it to yourself may seem a bit odd at first but the first person that will love you back to your healthy state is you. I am going to give you the guidance you need but you get to take the action steps. Will it be challenging? Of course it will. Nothing worth it, is it? I am not promising you easy. But I am guaranteeing you that when you truly love yourself – unconditionally – you give yourself the permission to break the cycles of destruction that have been holding you back.
As you read through this book you will read many stories about my shadow (or what some people call ‘the dark side’, ego, inner child; it’s the side of me that I consider to get anxious, insecure, jealous, etc.). I am reaching out to you with complete transparency, vulnerability, and honesty as I want you to find the answers you have been seeking. I want you to find your breakthrough. I want you to hang up your wild-out-of-control-party-girl-life and find the true you. I want you to uncover the woman you have buried so deeply inside that you have forgotten who she really is. It is my hope that you renew your soul. I re-introduced myself to myself, (sounds weird, I know) after I became tired of living a double life, smiling during the day while binging and crying through the night. Surprisingly, I wouldn’t change anything about my story. I survived reckless drug behavior, alcohol abuse, toxic relationships with men, and an unhealthy love affair with myself. I survived it so that I could live out my life’s passion to help women overcome their affinities. I survived it so I could reach back and reach for you.
I have been using this affinity word quite a bit already so let me explain what it is. An affinity is a very strong liking for something, and it’s not as stigmatized as the word “addiction”. I use it to describe addictions to anything such as drugs, alcohol, any abused substance, and sex. These affinities generally overtake our lives when we are suppressed with the business of life, and we do not find a healthy way to deal with the pressures that life brings. When we pretend that we are totally fine and we do not seek out the help we need, we leave an opportunity for those affinities to become our friends. I will explain more about this later.
After battling my own demons, I realized there was not a specific “type” of woman that can become an abuser. Anyone, regardless of their ethnicity – African American, Caucasian, Asian, or their sexual preference – homosexual, heterosexual, or their income bracket – poor, middle-class, or upper class, they can become a victim to negative choices. It is insidious and in general anyone at any stage of their life can have an addiction. “Addiction” sounds so dark though, right? Even when I just wrote it now, it seems so negative; this is why I call it an affinity.
Everyone has an affinity for something, and all affinities are not bad. What I am referring to is doing those things that bring harm to yourself or others. I am referring to those things that you feel you are not in control of, but you feel they have control over you. Let’s reflect on that for a moment. Can you think about thing or things you want to stop so badly but you find yourself doing them anyways? Although you promise yourself, “this will be the last time”, you find yourself going back for more or picking up the same habits? That is most likely an affinity. Any overindulgence is not healthy for your mind, body, or soul. I hope I am already starting to get you to think. Do not feel overwhelmed trying to process those thoughts right now. As of matter of fact, I want you to place those negative thoughts and emotions to the side as you work on becoming the best you.
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