The Year of Bitter Sweetness

Everything heals.

This year was a whirlwind of bitter sweetness. Growing pains are uncomfortable. They require isolation. A kind of isolation that suffocates in aloneness and silence. There was lots of time to think. And write privately and not at all.

In 2015 I gave myself the gift of loving me unconditionally. Not the fake kind of self-love made for IG quotes, but the real kind of consuming, unwavering, dance naked in the mirror kind of love. The self-pleasuring kind where I explored my own body. The kind of love that can take a lifetime. On the days I didn’t feel pretty I reminded myself I am pretty. The days I touched the rolls in my tummy I squeezed them tighter while laughing at how I refuse to do sit ups. The days I was mean to people who deserved it —and others who didn’t — I loved myself anyway. When I felt demoralized and debilitated from seven months of unemployment I reminded myself I am worthy. On the days that turned into months where I was too depressed to lift my head from the pillow so I sat in darkness for a full 24 hours I reminded myself it was temporary. I told myself I was dope and believed it. It was an arduous but necessary task. Had I not learned to wholly love me I would’ve crumbled.

Sweetness came in the form of cover stories and bylines in new publications. Sweetness came in being able to say no to work that didn’t inspire me — while being able to pay my rent solely from freelancing. It came through the soulfulness of Jazmine Sullivan singing my life in Central Park. Sweetness came in Rome where I travelled alone but was never really by myself. It came in the oysters and étouffée fries in NOLA. Sweetness came in meeting new people, reconnecting with lost ones. Sweetness came in the laughter of family. It came on the dance floor at Bed-Vyne and Franklin Park. Sweetness came in the freedom to create what moves me. It came in my comfort in being alone. Sweetness came in the form of sisterhood. It came in unpacking layers. Sweetness came in drunken nights with boys in bars. It came on magazine shoots in the presence of success. Sweetness came through the words of writers I’d idolized praising me for accomplishments. It came in healing wounds. Sweetness was all around.

The bitter parts of the year are harder to write about. Over the years I’ve repeatedly asked myself if I’m addicted to a narrative of struggle and pain. I don’t want that to be the case but I’m not sure it’s not. This was the first year someone used my own words to try to make me feel low. I knew it would happen one day and the thought alone made me write less, and at times less transparently.  The real version of the bitter parts would expose a handful of people who honestly don’t deserve the attention. So the safe version is this: A few people showed me their authentic selves. For that I am grateful. It was real quiet for chicks who were on my line daily during their breakups and unemployments and assaults but got ghost when I needed the same. Someone who was an advisor of sorts turned out to be a human dumpster who admittedly bashes me to folks and entertains hella gossip about me all because I told them the truth when asked my opinion. The extended version is much more grimy. Fuckboy betrayed me many times all while playing victim to his hordes of women. I’m talking a chick living with him while lying to me about it, giving my number to other chicks he’s smashed, sending people to my house. Real fuckboy shit.Thankfully I got the last laugh. When I wrote my first cover story, which Fuckboy had once told me I pretty much couldn’t do, he was the one person I wanted to talk about it with for so many reasons. That’s bittersweetness for your ass. People behind the scenes doing what they do best — be fake and talk shit. Family drama on my dad’s side. It’s always his side. And there’s the much tougher bitterness to cope with: the self-inflicted kind.

But I’m not mad at 2015. I did a lot of wrong and a lot of right. Even at my lowest I did good things for people, the kind of stuff I didn’t publicize for the ‘gram. For every bitter moment there were five sweet ones. For every person I rightfully purged there were ten more who showed up when it mattered most. And the wins, the wins were far more epic than the losses. It was a good year of preparedness for the success to come.

I learned healing is a slow process. It didn’t look how I thought it should. It didn’t happen when I wanted it to. It didn’t involve anyone else. It was mine alone to grapple with. I came out on the other side.

Everything heals.

For that I am grateful. 2015 was the year of self-love, growing pains, first-time accomplishments, resilience, surviving, living and healing. Getting back to me. I chose me. Again and again and again. And again some more.

  • Some of this is deja vu. I, too, have had folks use my words and situations against me in anger this year with the intent of hurting me, but it only revealed more about them. And don’t get me started on my unfair share of family drama. My two regrets are that 1. I rewarded a lot of piss poor behavior but not correcting it or enforcing repercussions for the unkind words and actions, especially when these folks are coming up on the expense of my back and 2) I didn’t practice enough self-care in the process. This shit is about to change for 2016.

  • Tracy Iglesias

    This was the first year someone used my own words to try to make me feel low. <-That person is an official, bonafide, ASSHAT!

  • Laja

    I’m going to read your words as long as I live. This was gloriously inspiring and so necessary. Thank-you Bené.

    • writtenbyBene

      Holy shit. Thank you so much, Laja! I hope to not disappoint. Glad you were inspired. 🙂

  • A deep bow for this piece and your goodbye to Mike Feeny in another. I lost my MIke in November. I also had the nay sayer dump in October. . Many may not say thank you enough so taking a quick moment to say thank you.

    • writtenbyBene

      Thank you for this. And so sorry for your loss. Sending you virtual hugs. 🙂

      • To you as well. Grief has been living walking in 10 feet of powdering snow.