Photo Credit: Genevieve V Georget @gen_georget
When I look at this photo, I see each brick representing a narrative in my life—the larger ones impacted me more significantly than the smaller ones surrounding them. And yet they are all so incredibly intertwined that one cannot wear down another simply by virtue of its magnitude of power and consequence. I have often tried to justify that each evolutionary occurrence was connected linearly with ease and intentional purpose. But I know that is not the case because my life story was tediously built with weighted layers from the bottom up. Most of the time, I had no clue what I was doing as I dove into so many pits of despair that I was unsure how I climbed out of their scathing steep caverns. Although I am not yet fully recovered from scaling their ascent, I finally landed in a shift that shook my world with the impact of an earthquake, begging me to pay attention. And for some reason, I finally understood why I was meant to suffer at the hands of the strength of my wall—a wall so resilient that it pushed me to keep adding bricks until I plateaued to the awakening of its meaning.
I appear tiny against my brick story wall, and my torn dress reflects the burden I carried from the overwhelming build. I now see the expansive dichotomy I wrestled with, determined to find strength within my weakness and ending up as worn out as my weathered boots that others might throw out, and yet I never will. They carried me through the worst and fit my feet like a glove filled with resilience; I cannot discard my past simply because it challenged me to get to my present. In fact, its decades-long discomfort makes it worthy of being shared forever.
I am physically larger than I have ever been yet simultaneously empowered by what I used to consider an imperfection. Establishing that wall supported my resilience and my eventual weight gain was the tradeoff.
My body is filled with the consequential damage created through my perseverance as an advocate of truth. It became a curse of consequential physical deterioration caused by the inflammatory emotional upheaval I endured. My mind and body were always in combat with each other, and I fought like an armed warrior because I could endure pain more than I could the untruths surrounding me.
When this photo shoot was taken, I was aware of the obvious limp and the swelling in my knees with every step I took towards the wall; they will never diminish so I push on. I used to obsess with managing that pain, but now focus more on the eventual lightness my heart recently discovered. That freedom appeared after every corner of each brick laid was surrounded by four others, providing the strength that comes with not sacrificing who I am—for decades and decades. It was brutally hard work.
My recollection of the first piece of this puzzle is me sitting at a table at the age of five. I had spilled my milk, and my perfectly healthy five-year-old body trembled worrying about what would come next. In my young mind, my father who sat across from me was one with Jesus hanging above him, and I had sinned. From that moment on, I determined I had to spend the rest of my life desperately trying to be good to be loved. I needed to stop spilling my milk.
Fifty-five years of bricklaying—stories upon stories that tore me down and destroyed who I was just moments before spilling a glass of milk while sitting around a table as a wee girl. My mother told me, it's just spilled milk, while my father and God overruled the power of love and reason and told me it was something entirely different. That moment and years of subsequent emotional turbulence detrimentally affected how I interpreted every trivial and significant event in my life. The milk had absolutely nothing to do with my perception of what love entailed. But instead it was how one person responded to the milk quietly moving across the table that influenced how I interpreted whether or not I was worthy of anyone's love.