I came to Jamaica to celebrate Ken, his birthday – seventy-eight years on this earth. MyKen, iKen, as many of you know, is a good man. A kind man. The kind of man who tries to better this world every single day. He separates plastic from paper, and makes his own compost from scraps of food; he grows food in his bountiful garden, and he grows flowers so I can have fragrant bouquets every single week. This makes him happy. This makes me happy. A good man he.
I moved to Pennsylvania full-time seven years ago. I like to call this move from New York City to rural Pennsylvania Green Acres on acid. I had to take baby steps in the moving process. We sold our apartment and we moved into a rental so I could wean myself out of Manhattan. I kicked and screamed and found myself longing, literally, for Chinese take-out and a deli right on the corner where I could/would buy bunches of flowers for my, our, apartment. I craved Starbucks and movie theaters in walking distance. And don’t get me started on Fairway or Zabars. I preferred concrete to park land, and cabs to utility trucks. And, truth be told, because the walls in our rental apartment were thin, when our next door neighbors finished making love, I would feign smoking a cigarette. Don’t let anyone convince you that hearing powerful orgasms aren’t emotionally contagious.
I came to Jamaica to celebrate my husband, his life, his beauty – a gracious plenty. What I did not expect this time around, at a place we have been to many times, was to awaken to my power, my very own gracious plenty, in an ocean – a body of water. Water is not something I do, but do it this trip, I did.
“Release her anger – your Mom’s anger – you don’t need to carry it any longer. You’ll be on the ocean, release it there!” My wise and beautiful friend, Alexia LaFortune, told me a few days before we left. That anger – that she talked of – had been buried deep in my bones for sixty-four years; playing hide and seek and when it reared its head, I felt shame and sadness and, on many occasions, a deep unbearable depression, and mostly – mostly – when it reared its head, I could feel my mother, the very worst of her.
Anger is ugly.
Anger is nasty.
Anger is filled with resentment.
Anger is taught and learned and repeated.
We watch someone lash out and then get their way.
We witness someone say and do awful things and watch people cower in response.
We hear words that become tattooed on our very souls and then they are repeated in the very same voice we originally heard the and…we revert back to that moment or those moments…and we become that little girl or little boy…and we catch ourselves and we catch our breath and we catch our tears.
Anger is NOT power.
I did not want to go into the ocean, I did not want to put on my very forgiving and formidable bathing suit – a one piece: black with white piping; and I most certainly did not want to walk into the ocean – the shallow part – and then fall to my knees because a small piece of lava rock guided me to the ocean floor. And it was there, right there on the ocean floor, while I was on my knees that I could feel all that I was holding on to in my body lift from me; all that I needed to release because I no longer needed to prove to myself or to anyone that I was the ever loyal daughter to a woman who was not an ever loyal mother.
The ocean, the waves, the sound, the beauty, the shear amazing power of it, her. The ocean is a she; that I am convinced of. It is life-giving and life-taking and life-affirming and life-offering and life-saving, and it is filled with fierce and mighty – it is bold and audacious – and it can make you shutter and it can make you fall to your knees. It is grace and grit and it washes away the dirt and the grime and the shame and the anger in one full swoop.
I wobbled a few times – falling back into the water – when I finally got hold of myself and I got up off my knees, and I stood up, and I didn’t need anyone to tell me I was beautiful or graceful or fearless with a heaping side of amazing. I felt it, I knew it, I held it, I was it.
If I can share one thing with all of you, it is this: release what causes you to feel small and unworthy and unlovable and reminds you what it was like to hide out of view. Release it. Send it on its way. Toss it back into the world, into the water. Trust me, you don’t need it.
We no longer need to be reminded of who we shouldn’t be in the world.
It is time for all of us to mother our own lives – to nurture and nourish and feed our very own magnificent souls – and to trade in all that has fearful written on it, stamped on it, embedded in it for FEARLESS.
The ocean, she is fearless; she is you.
author. writer. girl.
Women’s eNews weekly columnist Amy Ferris is a highly accomplished author, screenwriter, television writer and editor. She was also honored by Women’s eNews as one of our ‘21 Leaders for the 21st Century‘ for 2018. Every Friday, you will continue to be invited into her world, where she will champion, encourage and inspire women to awaken to their greatness, as only she can, through passion, truth, hope, and humor — along with a heaping side of activism.