I never felt like I fit in when I was growing up.
I had big feet, skinny legs and nagging low self-esteem.
And I was weird.
I barely spoke.
I saw things it seemed like other people couldn’t (or didn’t) see, people from the other side and spirits. I felt things I couldn’t explain. I knew things without knowing how I knew them.
Since my mom was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, all that was taboo. The party line was that if you see anything, it has to be demonic because Angels don’t show themselves anymore after the Bible was finished being written.
That story didn’t settle well in my spirit. Even when I was little.
I grew up not celebrating birthdays or holidays (from the age of 4) and sitting outside my classrooms while kids inside ate cake and ice cream.
To this day, I consciously choose to check my tendency to think I’m on the outside and everybody else is on the inside having fun.
At 30 I had a debilitating depression.
My life was falling apart.
Everything in it was caving in on me.
I had gotten married at 23 and had my first baby at 26 and my second child when I was 29. Part of the depression could have been post-partum. I think the only reason that baby survived was because I was breast-feeding. There was no way I could’ve made bottles.
So there I lay, in the bed, with the baby, day after day, night after night, doing almost nothing. My house looked a wreck and so did I. My husband must have wondered what in hell was wrong with me.
One day, I heard The Voice say “GET UP”.
I shot straight up in bed and got up.
Then The Voice said “GO OUTSIDE”.
What?!?!? You gotta be kiddin’ me! I can barely get in the shower and dressed, how am I supposed to go outside?!?!?!?
I did it anyway.
I got up, got dressed, went downstairs and swung the front door open.
It was like Count Dracula popping out the coffin. I thought the sun was going to toast my butt.
The Voice said “BREATHE”.
I thought I was already breathing. Apparently I was not.
I breathed deeper. Something in me woke up.
The Voice said “WALK”.
I put one foot in front of the other and started walking.
The Voice said “LOOK UP”.
I looked up at the big bright beautiful blue sky. This was what I had been missing. Later I found out that looking up while walking outside can lift depression.
I felt better. I was coming alive again.
That was 20 years ago as of this writing. I still walk outside almost every day.
The Voice knew what to do to save my life, because a few days before I had eyed a bottle of 800 mg pain killers they had given me after having the baby and wondered how many it would take for me to take a nap and never wake up.
The depression came from not living my authentic life. I was slowly dying under the weight of doing what everybody else told me to do.
I was a nice girl.
I did what my mother told me to do.
I did what my religion told me to do.
I did what the elders of my religion told me to do.
And when it was all said and done, I looked up and had a life of unconscious creation.
Whose life is this?!?!? I kept asking. It was mine, but it wasn’t mine by design because hardly any of it was what I wanted.
So I made the decision to let go of what didn’t fit any more. The husband. The house. The religion. I changed almost everything in my life. I went on a furious search for truth. I ditched everything I had been taught and started from scratch, with ONE tender morsel from my deconstructed house of beliefs:
God is love.
That’s all I had to go on. And it was more than enough. I let that simple little Truth carry me through the next few years on a trek to slowly find myself.
I’m not saying the journey is over. Nope. It’s in full swing.
As I write this, I’m 50 years young, doing what I love, in a life I mostly love, with people I love.
Most of all, my knowing that God is love expresses in my life every day. YUM!
Along the way I discovered, no, I remembered I am a Witch. I was born a Witch, so it wasn’t actually so much a discovery as it was a remembrance. It took me decades to make peace with myself.
I’m writing this to share my story with the intention and prayer that it will inspire you… to LIVE, to LOVE to make a difference and to share your unique journey so the rest of us can learn and grow.
I love you.
Rev. Valerie Shona Ife Love