Monday, June 28, 2010

It's Not Where You're From

April 28th was the last day that I posted an entry. Usually, I would apologize for staying away so long but no, not this time. I was away with good reason. I had to have time to grow.

May was not only when I had my growth spurt but it was also Lupus Awareness Month. It seemed that each day in May I was involved in some type of awareness activity. No matter how hectic my days got, and they did get hectic, I gave thanks because I remembered the fix that I was in two years prior. It’s amazing how far just a little faith can take you. This was on my mind as a PBS producer was affixing a microphone to my blouse to film me and my loved ones for a segment about lupus. I had come a long way since chemo treatments and kidney biopsies.

As the days turned into weeks, I started to feel the pangs of guilt and to be totally honest, I still struggle with bouts of guilt today. I don’t expect anyone to understand but I feel guilty because I made it. I feel guilty that I am alive to tell my story when so many people my age and younger have went on to glory. I mean guilt like tears streaming down my face guilt…simply about being alive.

It boggles my mind because according to societal norms, I’m not supposed to do well, motivate, encourage or aspire to inspire. For one, take the situation I was born into. I was born into a single parent household where me, my mom and two aunts lived in a flat with two bed rooms and one bathroom. We lived in what was considered the “hood”, Linwood and Davison. My BFF’s favorite story is the first time that she spent the night at my house, there were gunshots. She was frightened but I told her to “get her butt on the floor:” We were about seven years old. There were gunshots every so often but once the smoke cleared their was also a sense of community. Even though I played with the crackheads’ kids and my mom’s and aunts cars were being stolen everytime we looked up, I still felt safe.

Secondly, in an effort to share with me some history with me, my mom told me that people from the South were thought to be stupid and dumb when compared to their Northern counterparts. As a sensitive child, I remember this revelation making me sad. My mother is from Selma, Alabama and I didn’t want anyone perceiving her to be a dummy just because she was born below the Mason-Dixon line.

So having a country single parent in the one of the city’s roughest areas with gunshots going off like fireworks was supposed to limit me. Who knew?
It’s a funny thing because when you prop the door open to negative thinking, the adversary shows up wanting to kick that joker open. Couple those things with within the past year, knowing of 5 young ladies that have passed away from lupus complications and numerous more that have been hospitalized, I had a lot on my mind. All of the young ladies that passed were college age, about 22 years old with the youngest being 19 years old. All of them came from two parent homes. I’m sure their parents loved them no less than my mom loves me. I’m sure their parents supported them no less than my mother supported me. All of the ladies were born into marriages and not out of wedlock like me. All of the ladies had their own bedrooms whereas I was my mom’s roommate until I was damn near 13 years old. Not by choice but because economically that’s just the way it was. All of the ladies came from areas where there weren’t liquor stores on every corner. Where I come from there was Liquor Town on one corner and Chesterfield Liquor Store on the other. I’m sure the five girls didn’t pass prostitutes on their way to school but I did and I knew each one of their names. My mom’s from the country, remember? She told me to always be polite and speak to people.

So I wandered through May appearing in one commercial shown in Michigan and Indiana, one radio broadcast, two television shows, having two newspaper articles published and being a panelist at a Women’s Empowerment Conference. Due to all of the great press, we had an onslaught of calls from people throughout the state who either had lupus, had a loved one with lupus or lost a loved one to lupus. Yet, with all of this good fortune being shown towards the Lupus Alliance, my heart still ached for those 5 young ladies. They say good friends never let you forget your dreams and Cherish reminded me that once I said that I wanted to be a voice for lupus patients. I guess this was one of those “be careful what you wish for” situations.

Now that I think about it, maybe that is why I haven’t blogged in awhile. My caring and pensive nature had my lupus emotions scattered. I couldn’t write because guilt had it’s foot on my neck. Why was I selected for this? Quite frankly, why wasn’t I dead? The grim reaper had quite a few chances.

To combat my feelings of guilt, I had to reach back into my repertoire of bible teachings. I had to revisit the lesson that says God doesn’t look at things that man looks at such as where you’re from, how you look or the situation that you were born into. God can use anybody but you just have to have the desire to be used by Him. Don’t worry about not being qualified because He has a way of qualifying you. Don’t feel guilty about being used. Feel guilty when you aren’t being used.

My mama always said that it takes the foolish things to shame the wise. As usual, she is right. It’s foolish to assume that someone’s life will be stifled just because they come from a particular background or situation. I’ve learned that when someone comes from something “undesirable”, it’s just building character. It’s been said many times that I don’t meet strangers. I can sit with anyone and hold a conversation. Could that be because I didn’t speak to homeless folks with disdain? Or maybe because I spoke to the ladies of the night like they were misguided princesses and not whores. It’s important to treat everyone like the CEO even the janitor.

Don’t ever let society dictate your place in life. Regardless of what you’ve been through and will go through, it is just preparation for your destiny. God is one that sits high but looks low…even on little girls in the ghetto.

This is the segment from the PBS show "A Wider World". If the video is having problems loading, under it where it says 360, click on it and change the number to 480. Please tell a person or two about lupus. To learn more, visit