Not all black women are religious. I’m not. I wish I were…I’d love to carry the faith that everything is Jesus’ will, that He’s protecting me, no matter what. Not to get all deep on a beauty blog. But actually, I was just having this conversation with your girl Felicia, of ThisThatBeauty…so it’s beauty by association. When I was very sick this summer, I was lost. My skin was greenish-grey, I was ninety pounds (I’m 5’9″). I don’t believe in anything, so I didn’t feel that suffering was part of a bigger story…that it was purposeful somehow. Instead, it just felt like an endless, pointless ass-beating. And then someone that I used to love — whatever, that I still love and always will — showed up at my house, quite angry, and bellowed at me for two hours. “You’re giving up, you take handfuls of narcotics but never eat anything, you don’t move, you’re too unhealthy to get better, YOU’RE LETTING IT WIN!”
Several people over the years have tried to tell me this, but I never listened. When you’re in pain — whether it’s physical or emotional — it’s hard to think outside your bubble of woe. To understand that you matter to other people, that your darkness is killing them, too. All I ever cared about was survival…getting from one day to the next and raising my Lina Bobina. Details like, oh, nutrition weren’t even on my radar (I’ve always made sure Lina eats healthy, of course, but me? I’d subsist on toast and bacon. Nothing green, no water). But something about the shock of this intervention — the anger at the nerve of me to be so callous with my body — shook me up. “I will go with you to a nutritionist,” he said. “I will walk around the block with you if you’re too weak to move, I’ll do the fighting for you.”
It was uncomfortable to be read so profoundly. But he was right. And now I go to a nutritionist. I got a juicer! I drink and eat green things. I take vitamin supplements and sip Chinese medicinal teas and do stretches. I even meditate (sort of)! I’m not pain-free, but I’m better…and I feel more vital. And my skin’s not green (it’s awesome, thanks to Lancome and Dior, above)! Plus, something crazy happened. I’d felt so isolated that I forgot I had people. They came out of the woodworks. My sister cooked a healthy meal for me every week. Girlfriends appeared with almonds, avocados, brown rice, fancy stewed spinach, lists of gluten-free goodies at Trader Joe’s, and books on healthy living. My family sweated blood to help get me back on track. I’m not alone. And I’m so lucky.
I don’t believe in a religion, but I do believe in love — it saved me. Nothing’s more powerful. And that has to come from somewhere, right?