Sometimes there are books and stories that speak to me so deeply, I consider them long after I’ve finished. More to the point, they’re not always finished with me. This is the case with Finding Me by one of my personal sheroines, Viola Davis.
The way she traverses the landscape of being a wildly creative woman in a dark Black body from humble means in America reads like pages from my own story (that I have yet to write). It is a revelation, a validation of pursuing one’s own healing journey. It is the work of a lifetime, a crucible of transformation, and as the adage goes, the only way through is through.
Reading works like this, hearing people share their stories is like strengthening connective tissue. It binds and heals us, reminds us of what’s possible when we mine the depths of those hard places.
Just sharing some passages here because they move me, make me sit up straighter, smile even brighter, and proclaim more loudly, if only to myself, that I am here, and there is so much good in it.
“Life, and living it, is more about being present. I’m now aware that the not-so-happy memories lie in wait; but the hope and the joy also lie in wait.”
“My biggest discovery was that you can literally re-create your life. You can redefine it. You don’t have to live in the past. I found that not only did I have fight in me, I had love.”
“I am a dark-skinned woman. Culturally, there is a spoken and unspoken narrative rooted in Jim Crow. It tells us that dark-skinned women are simply not desirable. All the attributes that are attached to being a woman-desirable, vulnerable, needing to be rescued-don’t apply to us. In the past we’ve been used as chattel, fodder for inhumane experimentation, and it has evolved into invisibility.”
“I’m no longer ashamed of me. I own everything that has ever happened to me. The parts that were a source of shame are actually my warrior fuel. I see people—the way they walk, talk, laugh, and grieve, and their silence—in a way that is hyper-focused because of my past. I’m an artist because there’s no separation from me and every human being that has passed through the world, including my mom.”
“I answered the call to adventure.”