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There are often times when I stop and think to myself, “I am so grateful to be a woman!” I love the essence of life and grit that exfoliates my skin when I look myself in the mirror. I love how there’s this natural inborn persuasion to fight when life takes a swing at me. I love how it seems impossible to survive while I’m going through, but when I’m on other side of my hurdle, I can stand in awe and amazement of the resultant strength that was just birthed from my gut.

Even in all of life’s complexities, I am grateful that I get to experience it all in the grace and strength that I possess as a woman. As I’ve journeyed toward my portrait of wholeness and personal fulfillment, I’ve come to learn this truth: Our pains truly have the potential to produce some of our most potent and purposeful strokes of life and light in a world full of darkness.

Now let me be the first to say that I in no way welcome pain. I don’t beg for heartbreak. I don’t sit around hoping to be tested to the point of defeat. What I am saying is that in life, there is beauty in the motions. In the spirit of Thanksgiving and gratefulness for the woman who is emerging from her shell, I wanted to share three pains of my past that I’m grateful for:

Insecurity is a beast! It can consume you from within and leave you diseased. Broken. Desperate and in search of a cure to kill the negative thoughts that eat away at the true nature of your design. But, I am grateful for the resultant courage that has been birthed as I confront and reject my insecurities. I am grateful for the courage to just be myself. I am learning the value of confidence and I’m coming to truly appreciate my worth as an individual and as a woman. I know what it feels like be oblivious to my true value; Clueless to the power that lies in my thoughts. And so my appreciation for life now only grows stronger. I now understand that I have the power to choose what to believe and accept as my truth. Confidence is a learned behavior for me and I am grateful that my past insecurities can now offer a voice and draw purpose from my story.

Heartbreak can be debilitating! And recovery can be especially difficult for someone like me who didn’t really know how to love me first. For years and through a number of relationships my happiness and sense of completeness was derived primarily on my ability to please my partner first. But, heartbreak pushed me to the point where I had no choice but to change my patterns of love and figure out how to make myself a priority. Wallowing in self-pity and scraping the bottom of the barrel of my soul for that “strong black independent woman who don’t need a man to be happy”, I came up short. I came up short because I didn’t want to be that cliché of a woman. I had to get to the root. I had to cauterize the core source of my brokenness and initiate the healing process for myself. I had to admit to myself that it was the “security”, affection and attention from another man that defined me. It’s what made me feel worthwhile; like I had purpose and meaning in the world. It was hard for me to admit how unhealthy this form of love was, but once I did, a whole new woman emerged. Once I began to discover who Shamika was, and be content with all of her, it was the beginning of a fresh and fulfilling type love. Now that I am coming to truly know self-love, I feel unstoppable!

Pregnancy & Childbirth are exhausting! My God! Ten months of eating, growing, fluffing, gaining, kicking, waddling, stretching, transforming and spreading. Then there’s the back aches, heart burn and limited number of sleeping positions. And let’s not forget about the hours of labor (back labor in my case), vomiting, sweating and pushing like your life depended on it. But then I hear her cry and the pain and exhaustion almost instantly dissipates into oblivion as I welcome this new life which instantly transforms me. The day my daughter was born, (Thanksgiving Day coincidentally), was also the day that a new woman was birthed in me. My daughter sparked something in my spirit the day she took her first breath. Her very existence has charged me to be the woman that I dream up on the inside, and to seize the joy that was named for me.

On this Thanksgiving, I am grateful for the scars I have gained on my journey into womanhood. I am grateful for the pains because without them, I wouldn’t be this amazing, goofy, flawed yet strong woman that I am today. On this Thanksgiving, let’s try to shift our perspective and focus on how our story is really purposed to produce life.

What past pains are you grateful for this Thanksgiving?

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