I Found God When I Left Church (But I’m Ready To Go Back)

I was raised in a devout Seventh-Day Adventist home. The Sabbath was not something I understood as much as I accepted. The sun went down on a Friday, and with it the TV was turned off, food was precooked and an eerie calm took the house. On Saturday morning, I would wake up, get dressed and spend the day in church.

Being the extrovert that I am, I always found myself up front. Singing (even though I can’t), leading services, even preaching became standard for me the older I got.

Once I became a teenager however, I naturally began to tire of the routine. I was not required to be engaged in who God was once I kept parading up front. I was a “good girl” so I wasn’t able to ask the real burning questions I had about God and my faith.

It was in college that I met God for what felt like the first time. I went to an Adventist college where worship was a mandate. Yet and still, I found joy in church and worship that I never had before. Sitting in a pew, I could hear the Word of God coming from people who had gone through things I went through. Sex? They had it. Drank alcohol? They did it. My little church by the seaside spoke of redemption like it was an easy road. At Oakwood, I met people who could freely speak of salvation and the healing it brought them. I coveted that. I claimed that.

So when I came home and said I wanted to sit down, I thought it would be met with support. After all I had been a great crusader for this congregation for all my life. Instead I got frowns and questions of what happened to me. Could I say, “I don’t feel God’s presence here and I’m tired of being put on a stage to pretend that I do?” No. So I just stopped going.

I will not act like I instead stayed at home and liased with the Lord. It’s been a true rollercoaster but I will say that I have never prayed the way I pray now. I read the Word more – and still need to do better but I have a relationship with God. I went from being a programme participant to a believer.

I’m ready to find myself back in church. But before I go in, I will remind myself of the way I fell in love with the Lord. The only person who can tell me to stand up front is Him, and I will do it only for His glory.

Symphony

It was blissful.
Moonlight, and her vain self, stared at her reflection on the surface of the dark ocean.
The waves moved lazily as if it had been a long day, leaving us to stand on the shore without fear of being interrupted.
The stars were kind enough to tuck themselves behind the clouds so we would have privacy.
As if we would have noticed, as if I could have eyes for any being, celestial or otherwise, when you are there.
You pulled me to your side and I found a place that felt comfortable immediately, like a rib being reset into a cage.
We stood in silence but spoke in detail in those moments.
Your arm wrapped around my waist wouldn’t keep quiet about how well protected I was, it arrogantly pulled me closer as if I left any distance between us.
I rested my head in the crook of your neck and inhaled and lost my breath simultaneously, asphyxiation handing me to euphoria
Thankfully you kissed me to resuscitate me from what was sure to be my demise
So much so that I could feel my pulse change from treble to bass and thump deep down low
Still I couldn’t let you play that song on that instrument, not yet, just humming that tune already made me feel lightheaded.
It was enough to be there with you, cradled under your chin and being gently stroked at my middle like a violin.


Love is Not Algebra, Quit Solving Your (E)x

Tell me that I am not the only person who has that one being from their history that recirculates ever so often to bring catastrophe – I call mine “El Niño” for that same reason. We failed because he was overwhelmed by the way in which I love, which I admit is not for the faint of heart, and amicably parted ways. The problem was amicable always had a bit of a blurred line. I could guarantee that the minute we got back into a habit for consistent communication, feelings would start to cloud overhead and poor decision-making would start to rain down.

I hated myself for giving so many chances to him, even to just be my friend, because he did hurt me. The mistake that I made was giving him the knife to make the emotional incision, and then the thread to stitch me back up. I left way too much up to him, and what he wanted, and he enjoyed every minute of it. He took pride in comparing himself to my new relationships, and I reveled in being bitter at the sight of the ladies he romanced after me. We always kept that trap door open in the event we wanted to sabotage ourselves just a little bit.

When I finally moved on (two years and some change later), I watched a new love battle with his own catastrophe, La Niña. Understanding fully what it looks, feels, tastes and smells like made me choose to step away from him while he battled that storm. You see, sometimes we resent sunshine after being clouded over for so long. Drama is addictive, toxicity is thrilling and if we are not careful, we mistake the confusion for passion.

The storms in both cases, know exactly what they are doing. They will spin the things that once were in a way that envelopes you, and before you know it, you are in the eye of a true hurricane. It is very rare that they want you for themselves but hate the fact that you may have found relief before they feel you deserve it.

I had to admit to myself and El Niño that we just are not friendship material. Nowadays we exchange courteous glances once in a blue moon and I walk away with a twinge of nostalgia and a whole lot of relief that he can’t rain over me anymore.

Confidence, Curls and Being A Caymanian Girl – A Chat With @kypoundcake

If I had to describe myself in one sentence, I would say “I’m a black twenty something woman on a journey of finally figuring herself out – in every aspect, in a small society that has constantly made me feel like I should be anyone but myself.”

Angelika @kypoundcake

I first met Angelika when I was a tiny tot at Savannah Primary School, some 22 years ago. Towards middle school, I can recall conversations about how excited we were for our mothers to relax our hair, especially after having the coils that sat on the back of our necks (known to Caymanians as “peppa seed”) mocked by one of the girls lucky enough to have a mom who believed in the magic of Just for Me.

Today, Angelika is relaxer-free and leading a crusade for curl education, through her YouTube channel and social media platforms. We arranged to meet up to talk about her evolution but thanks to my car giving up on me, I instead had one of the most enlightening WhatsApp conversations I’d ever had.

I didn’t really even start this whole YouTube journey with the intentions of being an ‘influencer’. I had been thinking of starting my channel in hopes that I could make a difference in our small beauty community. I think it’s important that little girls and women can relate to someone who actually looks like them and share the same frustrations. I remember growing up I was never proud of my hair, and I was made to feel as though I was less beautiful because of it. I remember almost all the black girls in my schools had relaxed hair, some even from primary school, and I always thought ‘Damn, why can’t my mother just relax my hair already’.
I felt a desperate need to fit in and felt very insecure about my hair and this increased as I got older and went to high school. That’s when it really got me, being made fun of because my hair was still natural to the point of not even wanting to go to school because of it. When my mother finally decided to relax my hair, I was GRATEFUL. Walking into school and feeling the breeze on my scalp and feeling like I could finally fit in was all I had ever wanted.
It was great for a while until my little sister big chopped (twice) and I saw the beauty of her hair and decided to go natural as well. Since then, I had been getting all kinds of questions about products I used and how I style my hair so I decided to start this channel so I can answer everyone’s questions. I love make up and skincare as well and will be doing videos on those soon but natural hair is where my heart is right now. It’s taken so long for most of us to love ourselves – hair included, and I just want to do my part to keep that going.

At this point in the conversation, I was shook at how much I related to Angelika’s story, and I was curious as to how she made the transition not just from relaxed to natural hair, but from a bullied girl to a confident woman. Since I personally struggle with self-confidence, I had to ask how she cracked the code to be so unapologetic about being herself.

This one made me chuckle because it was something I had to learn. I haven’t always been [confident] but I feel like as I got older I realized I didn’t need to fit in with society’s ridiculous definition of beauty. Once I stopped caring about what people think of me and started being okay with everything about myself as in looking in the mirror and loving exactly what I see imperfections and all – that’s when I truly gained my confidence.
Maintaining that positive self-image is a whole other story because I don’t look or feel my best everyday but being able to say “damn today, is not my day” and still actively work towards improving myself daily is essential.

I Have Daddy Issues – But Please Don’t Tell My Dad

It’s been a while, and it’s been quite time here in TakiyahWorld. If that sounds like an amusement park, that’s exactly the type of thrills that I have been having. There have been some rollercoaster emotions, funhouse mirror distortions and plain nausea from doing it all too fast. Still there is one ride I keep walking past because it’s too long and hard of a climb, and the potential to come crashing down is too great.

I needed my dad this week. I was going through something that only my father could contextualize. However, our relationship is volatile when I provoke it and he is okay with the occasional phone call (usually from me) or blowing his horn when we pass in traffic. In an ideal father-daughter relationship, knowing that something was wrong would have been instinctive. With my father, he has been on a journey of self for some time and finding his location on that journey is never easy.

The complexities of our relationship come from a number of things. My biological father was absent and my dad took on the role of being my dad when I was five years old. Since then, our family has had its ebbs and flows but all things being equal, that is my dad. I do know who my biological father is and have contact with his family but as far as effort made – even if by default – only one dad wins.

Thanks to an amazing grandfather, I can’t ever say I have been short of structured male advice. It’s just that my grandfather being from a simpler time. has much simpler views of complex things. What would have worked in the good ol’ days for love, finance and auto repair have long passed away. This week, as much as Pops is my heart and soul – I needed my dad.

“So if you needed him, why not just call him?” The obvious question I ask myself. A phone call on an island the size of mine is almost an economical waste for matters of this sort. My pain, my anger, my confusion, my sorrow would have taken down the LTE network before I could have even began to explain what was wrong. On an island this small, I don’t know where he lives, nor does he know where I live. I don’t know much about him these days. I just know that he is my dad if anyone asks.

As a result, in relationships, I find myself making that call before I even truly know who I am dealing with. You’re in my life for an extended period of time – you must love me! I must love you! That’s what makes sense. No matter how faint your impression on my life has been, once I’ve given you a title – I just know that you are something to me if anyone asks. When I am hurt in a relationship, I retreat to a corner where I self-soothe and then come back with too much forgiveness and not enough foresight that I will be hurt once more.

Could I tell him this? If he somehow stumbles across this post, I just know that it will be a thing for a little and then slowly it will return to the emotional high-fives every few months that we have silently agreed work for us. Hence why I didn’t feel it was worth the melodrama for one moment where I was in need of paternal presence.

As I blog about this, I have to chuckle at the fact that putting this out there for the whole world to see is still less daunting than that one ride in the amusement park known as Dear Old Dad.


Being A Woman Is The Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Had to Do

First things first – Happy International Women’s Day! Whether you are one of my closest gal pals, a stranger who stumbled here through cyberspace or are slowly becoming one of my “readers”, this world wouldn’t be as amazing without women like you in it. If you are a male reader – hey! Happy to have you here, you can learn a lot from this.

On my worst day, all my deadlines at work are pressing against me, my boyfriend is pissing me off about something unimportant, my mother is asking me serious life questions I don’t want to answer and I am having cramps so bad that I want to throw my pelvis into a block of ice. My boobs aren’t sitting in the bra that I over invested in, my foundation is oxidising and turning orange, my shoes are UNCOMFORTABLE AF and all I have really accomplished is being female. Then it hits me – being a woman is one hell of an accomplishment.

I come from a long line of opinionated, strong, intelligent women who worked tirelessly for the things they had. I watched my mother raise three children, climb the corporate ladder, lose 50 pounds and then manage to look like she is still 30 years old. My grandmother was born in rural Jamaica and set off for the Cayman Islands to become a teacher and a nurse. My aunt chose to leave her career in tourism and hospitality to go to law school. All while being woman in a world that even now, still gives men more opportunities.

Even with all these amazing examples, figuring this woman shit out has not been the easiest time. With two fertility threatening conditions, kids may not be in the cards for me and whenever I say I am okay with that, people look at me like I am crazy. Am I not a woman without being a mother? In terms of marriage, I would love to go down that road eventually but I find people are asking me more when it’s happening as I am not a woman until I am a wife. Expressing exhaustion is dismissed with things like “wait, till you have kids” as if my body doesn’t get the right to wear out until I have children to take care of.

Before any of those things happen, I am still a woman. I still walk into a corporate environment and have a glass ceiling over my head. I still have to ignore cat calls and ask men to come out of my space more than once in social settings. I still have to contend with unrealistic beauty standards. I still have to prove that a hormonal difference is not a human deficiency.

Men, if you are still here – we need your help to balance the scales. That means that at work, make sure that there are enough seats at the table for both of us. That means in relationships, take on some of the more traditionally feminine duties and then teach us how to change a tire. Fathers, spend time with your daughters playing dress up and kicking a football around.

Being a woman is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do and some days, I wonder what it would be like to be one of the boys. Then it dawns on me that even on my most challenging days, leading life in these uncomfortable af shoes is something I would never change.

Happy International Women’s Day!

Dear Takiyah: An Overdue Letter to Myself

I haven’t been the kindest to myself. I can really be mean to me. So in an effort to shake that vibe away, I decided to write myself a letter. I was inspired by a video I saw on BuzzFeed and decided to run with it so here goes…

Dear Takiyah,

You don’t give yourself enough credit. I see you want to heal everyone else then wonder why your own emotional IV bag is running dry. You are too kind to everyone but you. You are intelligent and so confident of that because you have been told you were all your life. What if no one says a word? Would you still believe it if everyone were to go completely silent?

Your power hasn’t been tapped into yet. Your dreams are more than just wishful thinking – you will be an author. You will get to tell your story, and the stories of other women in a platform too big for you to fathom. God has a major plan for you and your life – don’t ever forget it. He is with you always.

You are beautiful. Un-hunch those shoulders, sis. Smile at yourself more. No one else on this earth is made of the raw materials you are made up of. Being you is not easy. It’s not. That’s what is amazing about you. You are you and able to be you on the best and worst days, NO ONE ELSE CAN BE TAKIYAH.

You have been blessed with friends, family and a partner who all love you. But, it’s all for nothing if you don’t love you. I know you are a hopeless romantic and I know that the greatest love story you can ever write will be the one where you tell everyone how you learned to love you better.

Quit explaining yourself. You have enough of an internal debate between your heart and your head. You don’t need validation from anyone else but the Lord above and He has given you all His expectations in word form – He’s a writer too.

I love you,
Takiyah

Things Your Caribbean Brothers and Sisters Wish You Would Stop

I remember it like it was yesterday. I was coming down the hallway towards my room in Carter Hall my freshman year when I saw water seeping out of my neighbour’s door. A crowd of girls had gathered around and I stopped to comment ‘No way! Tuition is too high for the plumbing to be this bad!’ A theology major, who was known for being so filled with the Lord’s goodness that she was never rude, replied “Girl, you know you’ve seen way worse than this coming from the islands”. I paused, let the words process, analysed who said them, and decided on the best response – “No the f*ck I have not.”

This memory is just one of many instances where I heard a person speak ignorantly towards me, simply because I was not American-born (my father is from Mississippi but we’ll talk about him another time). Every so often, I venture down Twitter and Facebook to see many of the people I cussed out for being ignorant at volumes that deafened me are still being loud. In hindsight, I see that where I cussed, I could have educated. Here are a few key lessons I wish I had taught when I had the chance.

DON’T Repeat After Me
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery except when it’s mockery. I remember one gentleman in particular thought it would be comical to sing what I was saying back to his own group of friends when I walked by. I remember going as far as to sit him down and explain that it made me feel silly when he did it and asking him kindly to stop. He didn’t. I ended up not wanting to speak at all whenever I saw him coming.

Jamaica is Amazing – But We Aren’t All From There
I salute Jamaica for being able to represent itself through its music, its people, its culture – this island is one of the true Caribbean gems. I say this with great pride as a person of Jamaican descent. However, I feel that Jamaican is the default nationality our American brothers and sisters put on any person of colour whose dialect sounds even remotely close to the modified speech that passes as patois on US television (we’re talking about you Luke Cage). In the same way there is a difference between Maryland and New York, there is a difference between all of the Caribbean islands. In fact, we would love if you paid us a visit.

Weed Isn’t For All of Us
This one was always mind-boggling to me. “Do you have good weed there?” Even if I knew, in first conversation, would I say? Weed is still illegal in a number of Caribbean islands so please – wait until we are at least acquaintances before asking how we feel about controlled substances (unless we volunteer the information).

We Didn’t Grow Up In Huts
The young pastor in the beginning of this post assumed that my socioeconomic status was below hers just by the sound of my voice. Even if I was used to being in the most subhuman living conditions, she was still being insensitive. Believe it or not, our countries are mostly developed with sound infrastructure with exceptions usually being culturally protected indigenous people. There is poverty – but that’s a global problem.

Perhaps I should have led with this but the adage about knowledge being power is the absolute truth. The truth of the matter is race is divisional enough without us further segmenting ourselves from one another. Being a woman of colour, a person of colour, anywhere in the world comes with its own level of challenges – some places worse than other. The sooner we realise, Caribbean or American or European, that we share an ancient ancestral bond – the better. So before you mock an accent or joking ask for a spliff, I dare you to engage in true cultural exchange.

We HAVE to Stop Fighting Over Men – Seriously

Before I go off on a tangent, please know that even I, have had to pray for strength when another woman appeared a little too friendly with my significant other. With maturity, I’ve learned to look to who I made the commitment to, and who made the commitment to me in that situation. He was either apologetic or justified by the fact there wasn’t much commitment on his end. The issue is never the other woman (unless it’s a true fatal attraction situation and in that case, there are restraining orders).

Now, besides the fact that I am so very averse to assault charges, I simply do not see the value in investing time and energy to defend a man’s honour when he should be protecting mine. Much like Trump’s wall, putting a barrier over one port of entry would do nothing if he truly wanted to let someone in.

I also acknowledge that finding out that the person you love even has the capability of being unfaithful can be a true psychological battle. You want to blame everyone else because you are convinced that your love acted out of their own accord. The power of choice is what separates us from animals in the jungle. Coming to terms with the fact that someone conscientiously broke an agreement to be monogamous can be maddening.

What we as women cannot do is continue to choose each other as the problem. Imagine a world where we did not compromise for the sake of getting some kind of affection. Emotions do run high but the older I get, the more saddening to see or hear of women fighting over men. We have to worry about glass ceilings, less pay, motherhood, menstruation – why do we have to make enemies out of the only other people who relate to our exact struggle?


The love that is worth fighting for won’t come at such a price. So before you start another altercation – make sure you aren’t building a wall where he is ready to put a ladder.

Pro-Life, Pro-Choice – Opinion vs. Experience

I have this nervous tick where I wipe imaginary sweat off my brow when I am thinking of something that weighs heavily on me. When a Facebook friend posted on his feed #AbortionisMurder, my hand instantly went to my forehead and I tried to rub my own memories out of my skull.

The preliminary details are somewhat irrelevant so I will keep them brief – I was 19, a sophomore in college and just had just gotten home for the summer. A fractured prophylactic, a failed emergency contraceptive and a positive pregnancy test resulted in panic, reasoning and decision. The father was aware of the pregnancy and then made himself scarce upon learning of it, with the exception being him telling everyone else he was going to be a dad. I took that as a foreshadowing of what his parenting was going to be like – loud but shallow. In summary, it was just Takiyah and this + sign.

I did what I felt was best for all involved and proceeded with a D&C. (My fingers are starting to tremble over the keys on my keyboard…they do it any time I start to play this song) Seven years later, I still think of it every now and then, especially when I go onto social media and get called a murderer indirectly by someone who thinks they are saving lives.

I challenged him to phrase his (he is a male) statement a little less harshly for those who may have to had to lay that particular cross down. I , and many other women, lived through the experience and only we knew what our thought processes were. The morality of it, the justice of it, the repercussion of it are all things that I have had to ponder and reconcile with God. What triggered me about this social media post is that it was applying judgment where God had already assured a pardon.

It’s a debate that is so much bigger than my story, but I have one. I think that one day I will go into more detail, but for now – I am challenging whoever is reading this, no matter your stance – consider the mother involved. No matter what path she takes, her life will never be the same.