|And I'm not afraid of Ladybugs either|
Afraid to Be Happy
Okay, I’m just going to get all up in your business and ask you if you are you afraid to be happy? Don’t answer too quickly, because you might not know the answer yet.
I didn’t until I was in my 30s (I love saying that, I feel like I finally have the mileage I need to be a classic; the kind that makes everyone stop and look as it drives by.)
Anyway, I was going through life afraid to express too much joy. I’d find myself in one of those moments where everything was going right and then I’d think, “Uh oh, something bad is going to happen, because everything is going too well.
I searched my soul for the source of that fear and recalled the day my grandmother died.
Caroline Freeman was a force to be reckoned with. At that time, no one knew her real age. The old court house in the town where she was from had burned down and so when she went for new documents, she lied about her age. Everyone thought that she was 70 but, in fact she was 90.
She had flawless skin and long straight hair and as it was said back then, she could have passed for a white woman, but didn’t. My grandmother was blind, but she was a colorist. She had three girls and according to her, my mother’s children were “them black kids.”
Caroline fawned over my cousins but treated my siblings and me like we were no good. We still laugh about this woman who could not see, but did not like the darkness of our skin.
Like everyone you don’t care for, Caroline had great strengths as well. The neighbors respected her and deferred to her wisdom and influence. She always stood up for women who were abused and once even shot a man who had beaten his wife. (Yes, and she was blind.)
On the day my grandmother died, my family and I had been having the best day of our lives. We were at a park that had a lake for swimming; okay it was a pond, and enjoying that amazing day.
I told myself that this was the day that all days would be measured by. But then when we got back home, we learned that my grandmother had had a stroke and died.
It was the first time in my life that I had ever seen my mother cry. I was 12 and from that day on, life for my family was not the same. It was as if my grandmother had been our invisible glue.
When I first recalled this day and saw it as the source of my fear of happiness, I knew that I needed to do something, or be haunted forever.
Back then, I decided to just throw the fear away, but that was when I was in my 30’s now that I’m in my 50s I can face those fears and my grandmother.
I now look to that day and her life with love and forgiveness. I can feel her hand touching my head and I can see the look of disgust on her face. “This is one of Bea’s nappy headed black kids,” she would say.
I don’t know her whole story. I don’t know what she had to endure that made her mad at me. But I know that this is not my baggage to carry.
I know that I love this woman fiercely because I need to. I forgive and let go of the pain she inflicted on my mother and then the pain that was inflicted on me by both of them.
Only when we love, and forgive can we truly be free to be happy.
Go back and look at the source of your fear; forgive it and fly free.
Be you, be forgiven, be happy.
Bertice Berry, PhD.