“I never saw a wild thingDavid Herbert Lawrence
sorry for itself.
A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough
without ever having felt sorry for itself”
I have an abundance of compassion, empathy, shoulders to cry on and ears that are open and waiting. But when people need pity, I come up empty handed. Every. Single. Time. Don Miguel Ruiz explains that, “Love is ruthless; it doesn’t feel sorry for anyone, but it does have compassion. Fear is full of pity; it feels sorry for everyone”. He continues explaining that you feel sorry or have pity for someone when you don’t respect them or when you don’t think they are strong enough to make it. Pity is for people you don’t respect; compassion is for those you have the upmost respect for. It is impossible to treat anyone differently than you treat yourself. Whatever you give to others comes out of the coffers of your soul, that which you have reserved for yourself. The reason I don’t pity others is because I don’t pity myself.
When I think about my rock bottom moment, I don’t feel a shred of pity. Depending on my mood I may feel sadness, compassion, shame and guilt, appreciation and pride but never pity. In 2007 when I graduated from college at the top of my class, having made the Dean’s list several times and being inducted in a few Honors societies and programs, I had no job prospects. In fact, I had applied and interviewed at thirty, yes 30 accounting firms and got nothing. The car I had, a 1994 Lincoln Continental lovingly called “Pimp Juice” had seen its last days and I had no car. That meant the job I did have I would have to quit because it required the use of a vehicle to fulfill job duties. I graduated and would no longer be living on campus which meant I had nowhere to live. I was jobless, without a car, and homeless. Oh, I also didn’t have money, so I had insufficient funds and overdraft fees because hey, I still had to get my fix of fast and junk food to ease my pain. To add insult to injury I was still dealing with the pain of losing a child and a man who broke every part of my heart when he walked away two years prior. I was that frozen bird that fell dead from the bough. Looking back at myself in that moment, I can easily become overwhelmed with emotions. But not a single one of them is pity. I feel a ruthless love and an undying respect for myself that I never knew existed and that is what has saved me. Pity would have ended me, but self-love lifted me.
“You either walk inside your story and own it or you stand outside your story and hustle for your worthiness”Brene Brown
I asked my grandmother if I could stay with her and she welcomed me with open arms. I was depressed and ashamed because of my situation and I isolated myself from mostly everyone. Who wants to be around someone with absolutely nothing? There was only so much pizza and chicken wings that made me feel better, and I went to the only thing that has saved my life over and over since I was 4 years old; books. I would go to the library and get 3 and 4 books at a time and read them in a week. There was one book and ironically, I cannot remember the name of the book or the author’s name, but it was about Black women and self-esteem. In that book I read something that would alter the course of my life forever. The author said that we are taught how to love ourselves by the adults around us when we are young. She posed the question, “who taught you to hate yourself”. Answering that question precipitated this painfully beautiful journey of radical self-love and radical self-healing that I’ve embarked upon. There have been countless tears, poor choices, pain, and shame over the years, and it would take pages to describe it all. It hasn’t been easy but never has a tear been shed with pity. Why? Because a wild thing never feels sorry for itself. A wild thing who is born to fly, born to be free, and rife with purpose and beauty will find pity to be useless. A wild thing will however pull on the strength of her ancestors and the promises of God to somehow keep going no matter how lost and confused that wild thing is. Life will knock you down plenty. Love will pick you up. Pity keeps you down. Forever. What will you choose? Because pity and love cannot coexist. You either choose to love yourself or pity yourself.
“Self-love will save your soul”Upile Chisala