Dying to live.

I’m mourning a death. One, I’ve been mourning slowly for a few years now. I think I’ve reached the finale stage of what has felt like a drawn-out theatre play which is the acceptance part. The moment that I’ve been waiting for for what feels like an eternity. After years of putting myself through a self-made cycle, I’ve reached this part where I feel ready for my burial.

Death is an inevitable part of the life experience, something we have no choice but to respect even if we can’t understand it. Loss of loved ones and worldly transitions that most of us are no stranger cause us to change into a person that we never saw for ourselves, someone that we deliberately bypassed. In this case, letting go of the person I once thought I wanted to be is an experience of renewal that I’ve never quite felt this deeply before. I’m not sure if I knew that this burial would come because for so long, I kept the ideology of the person I mapped out to be, on life support, hoping to aid her back to life.

So, a bit about myself, I dwell on the past in hopes of trying to figure out what “went wrong.” I tend to overthink a little too much, especially when unnecessary and, of course. I, too, deal with imposter syndrome, which is led by a crippling fear of failure, yet somehow I still hold on to a bit of- even if just a dash- optimism. So, as I grieve this passing, I’m making room to connect essential dots while learning how to manage the emotions attached to these new triumphant discoveries. Revelations have all played a part in this homegoing. This is my eulogy.

Taking time to sit and reminisce on my childhood, most of this process has been studying my story to properly self-reflect. To find sense in a mess I created for myself, going someplace I’d never been before with myself was indeed necessary. I had a pretty “standard” childhood for the most part. It was enjoyable at best. A child of the nineties, I had a seafoam green and soft pink big wheel and a plethora of barbies. I played outside until the street lights came on; I grew up watching the Chicago Bulls games back when Michael, Scottie, and Dennis dominated the courts and grew up in a close-knit family on my mom’s side.

But with the ups I experienced were also the unavoidable lows. My sister and I witnessed my parents struggle to make ends meet for a big chunk of our childhood, from us living with a woman from our church who had a heart of gold to our short stint living t in a hotel at one point. Which was and still kinda is a top-five childhood memory. I was in love with the idea of living in a “different place” that had a pool and served complimentary breakfast! Unlimited bagels and orange juice? Sign me up! As newlyweds, my parents went through the hazing of what being a young black married couple does, and though my parents did their best to make those moments of our life as muted as possible, they didn’t shield it, and to be honest, didn’t necessarily try to.

The thunder that rolled underneath the sun was loud; I just didn’t see it as a kid. My parents never showed shame in their struggle, we never announced our obstacles at the door, and we never looked like what we were going through, an evergreen mantra heavily known throughout the Black community. The demonstration of how unforgiving and unfiltered the real world was, specifically for Black people, was what I saw growing up.

Writing has always been my therapy, my go-to, and my default escape route to expressing my feelings. My diary was my closest friend growing up. In retrospect, it was my best friend because I was talking to myself. Funny how that works. In my collection of journals, one topic I also kept consistent was my dreams. I used to have the biggest! An HBCU graduate (Grambling was high on my 10-year-old list) where I would be a majorette. Then, I’d move to New York City and create my own fashion, make-up, and fragrance line. Oh, and by 28, I would be engaged and getting ready to be a wife. Ah yes, little me was so imaginative. I just knew the person that I described in my diary entries would come into fruition. Lol, I’ve never been so wrong.

My upbringing caused me to dream big but with little motivational resource or belief that those things could happen for me. My disappointment mostly came from the lack of surprise when my goals didn’t come to pass. It’s as if I was already prepared for the complete opposite, which only caused me to accept the reality that maybe I dreamt just a little too big. Needless to say, the pressure that I created for myself stemmed from what I saw around me. Stints of success were scarce and never lasted too long, but the struggle was never strayed.

The things that affected me the most motivated me to build myself a shield of protection using whatever scraps I could find, but that protection only started a series of destructive patterns that have only left me worn. Instead of healing when I knew I needed it most, I continued to embark on a false tour of hope, a warped vision I had created for myself since childhood. Fantasies birthed out of not having and not knowing. The reality of my life was made a fantasized version of who I anticipated becoming one day. Doing that continued the increase of depression and anxiety.

It took a long time for me to finally get to this part of my new journey. For so long, I coddled my disbeliefs and nurtured my insecurities. I welcomed my failures and denied my heart’s desires. According to the law of good karma, that did nothing but hold me back from what I was owed. For too long, I stifled myself out of fear of failing and ignorance on how to launch. Burying those fears and doubts of what I felt for so long and replacing them with acknowledging and accepting the person I already was has been a freeing experience. It wasn’t all bad, though.

Before I bury the old me for good, I’d like to thank her for never giving up on herself no matter how hard it got, and man did it get hard. I’d like to celebrate my dreams, and everything I once desired, for those thoughts, only propelled me to become the writer I am today. I’m burying many things with the old me, yes, but I’ll never rid the key attributes that have been my survival mechanisms. The fire and passion I was born with, no matter how many times the flame has gone out, it’ll never cease. I’d like to give myself credit for pushing through those heavy moments dealing with the results of verbal abuse and abandonment at such a tender age. This death was needed if I wanted to live. But I am still healing. I am not healed.

Once allowing the tribulations and internal struggles to blind the stars she saw in her eyes due to fear and circumstances to taking this shovel to bury those setbacks that hindered me, I usher in the version of the person I already was. I’m happy to be here.

Be good to yourself,

Jenelle Parrish

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Jenelle Parrish

Jenelle Parrish

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Yall mind if I express myself, real quick? I write love letters to Black women, my biggest inspiration. Twitter @jenellewrites