Recently, I was talking to a friend of mine and she asked me what my next “Monzi” would be about. Actually the conversation went a little more like
“…your next Monzi or whatever should be about THIS!”
I won’t divulge into the silliness of our conversation, but we did come to the conclusion the term “Monzi” would be the best title to refer to my mem-blogs/blog-moirs/posts.
SO! Now and forevermore we will be referring to whatever these are as “MONZIs” Santo. Santo. Amen.
Now this is the story all about how…
This Monzi is a little hard for me to write about…which is precisely why I think it’s important for me to at least touch the surface while God is still working in and on me about it. Let’s start from start. Shall we start?!
As most of you know, I grew up in a single parent household. When I started school, my grandmother, Rosemarie, came to live with my mom and I to take care of me while my mom worked (and later while she went back to school). This was awesome for me because I LOVED my grandma. Even though my mom was present and was well… my mom, my grandma was basically a mom figure for me. I spent most of my time with her. She took me everywhere! To the movies, to the mall, to the zoo, to McDonald’s ((which was the BEST PLACE ON THE PLANET. don’t hate.)), she took me EVERYWHERE. In the summertime I would go with her to the Bronx for vacation and cruise the streets. We were inseparable. She was my best friend.
At some point my great grandmother came to live with us, too. This made 4 generations of women in the same household.
Now, to answer all your questions at once:
- Yes, it made for interesting conversation.
- No, I really did love it.
- Yes, I tried on their dentures once or twice.
- No, the Price is Right came on at 11a and not 10a
- Yes, Diagnosis Murder and Little House on the Prairie were on TV at any given moment in the day.
- No, your mom doesn’t go to college… but my mom did!
- Yes, my grandma’s man crush any day was Nat King Cole.
- No, it didn’t take us 6 hours to get ready only having one bathroom.
- Yes, I hate ending this list on the number 9.
Looking back, I am so blessed to not only have known my grandma, but to have known my GREAT grandmother and live in close proximity with these strong women. Unlike some of my fellow millennials, I was able to get perspectives from people who lived before television, household to household electricity, or even indoor plumbing! These women lived through racism in the south ((which is still a thing technically)) , the Harlem Renaissance, Civil Rights Movements, both World Wars, the Great Depression, seeing the first man walk on the moon, seeing the first man do the moon walk and more! They taught me more than I could have ever dreamed of!
Although, I didn’t know it at the time… they shaped me into the person I am today. They loved me in the good and the bad. From when I was a sweet little nugget to when I was a preteen-aged brat they were there for me. They provided me with unconditional love, grace and wisdom which was unparalleled and is extremely difficult to find in this day and age.
This is just a little background so you can understand how much these women meant to me. I’m sure there will be plenty of good stories to tell in the future… but like my other millennials, I’ve only got the attention span of a gnat. So, let me move on!
My Life Got Flipped, Turned, Upside Down
When I was in middle school, my great grandma got sick. To this day, I’m still not sure what it was, maybe congestive heart failure? I’m not sure. She was 96 when she passed though and she lived an ridiculously fruitful life. However, it was at this time that my own grandmother began to show signs of the disease that took her father and so many other’s loved ones– Alzheimer’s. This is really where my Monzi begins.
I’ve seen some bad things in my life. But witnessing the person who taught me, loved me and raised me turn into a shell of their former self is one of the scariest and most depressing things I’ve had to do in my 26 years of living. It is dreadful for anyone and my heart genuinely goes out to you if you’ve been there or are going through the experience right now.
For her, it was the same old tale as any other. She started off with being forgetful about small things, then she simply wasn’t herself. She was a lot more timid– almost scared a lot of the time. She wasn’t my grandmother. She wasn’t even Rosemarie, anymore. She was turning into another person.
As my grandmother’s disease worsened, it was also around the same time my mom graduated from nursing school and got a new job at the hospital. This meant I was home alone with my grandma a lot more and I slowly found the roles for each of us changing. Almost overnight, instead of her taking care of me, I began to be her care giver.
I did not know how to handle such a big responsibility. I mean, I was 13/14 taking care of a 70ish year old woman who was losing her mind…literally. Being that young with such a heavy burden, I was losing my mind too… not literally. I loved my grandmother, but honestly, this new person was hard to deal with. It just wasn’t fair, for me or for her. She deserved so much better from me. I just didn’t know how to process, and when you’re that young…how can you know? But, I just went along acting like everything was amazing! ((you can read about my people pleasing ways here)). No matter what I said to myself to make me feel better though, we were both hurting and it was a terrible situation that I wouldn’t wish on anyone.
So, I’d like to Take a Second…
Eventually, my mom and I couldn’t take care of my grandma anymore, so we had to place her in a nursing home. It was so hard to see her in that state. So I, being the natural avoid-er that I am, stayed away. I threw myself into school activities, church stuff, and into anything I could in order to keep me out of my house and away from the dysfunction going on in my world. ((At that point, there was a whole slew of crazy happening. I’ll tell you about it when you’re older.))
What I didn’t realize was, not only was I subconsciously distancing myself from my reality, but I was purposely distancing myself from my grandma. It was too hard to face her… remembering all of who she was. Thus, in order to cope, I simply forgot everything she was. There are so many chunks of my memory I merely… blocked out. I still try to sort out what was going on in my brain at the time, but I assume her memories made it too real. Too real that my grandmother was gone. Too real that the only person who I knew had my back couldn’t even remember me. Too real that my best friend was on the brink of death.
It was all too real.
So I did what I was good at… I shut down.
Eventually, my grandmother passed away. I wasn’t sure what was the cause of her death either and at that point, I didn’t care. I was so cold. I didn’t cry once. I told myself I needed to be strong for my mom. But truthfully, I was numb. I, so, deeply suppressed everything about my grandmother, it was like a stranger had died.
After the funeral, I went back to school and hung out in the Nurse’s office, ((as many did in my era)) and Mrs. Taylor, my BFF/school nurse, asked how I was doing. I told her I was doing great and I didn’t really show any emotion. I remember almost her exact words to my chilling responses. She said:
“Well, Imani, you’re going to have to go through mourning at some point. It took my sister years to really mourn certain things and I think it’s going to be the same for you. It won’t be now, but when it’s time… you won’t be able to stop it.
It will happen sooner or later”
…this wasn’t the first, nor the last, time Mrs. Taylor was right about my crazy. No matter how far you run, you eventually gotta face your little trolls in the closet.
Closet trolls suck.
Just Sit Right There
Three years ago, I began my healing journey. Last year, I started to seek true freedom in Christ. ((I know…you’re astounded at my quickness and urgency to let God work. #sarcasm.))
I began reading Healing for Damaged Emotions and took a class on the book. On a side and personal note ((not that you can’t get much more personal than this Monzi post…)) this book is AMAZING. If you’re serious about finding healing and freedom in Jesus… I guarantee you it will help wonders! It’s very biblical and extremely practical.
Go buy it. Right now. Go!
In his first chapter, the author begins talking about forgiveness. As I was reading, without his prompting, I began thinking of all the people who wronged me and how I was gonna forgive them up the wazzoo! Then, Seamands ((the author…duh!)) threw me for a loop. He said something like:
Sometimes, in order to see ourselves as God see us
and to seek true freedom in Christ,
we need to forgive ourselves.
This hit me like a ton of bricks. “Forgive myself? For what?” So I sat there and prayed and sat there some more. Then all of a sudden, the memory of an incident popped in my head:
When I was taking care of my grandmother, she needed me to help her with something. But for some reason, she just wasn’t cooperating. I was frustrated; not with her, but I was actually upset that she wasn’t my strong, independent grandma anymore. I wanted her to be confident again. I wanted her to be well. But all this bent up emotion turned into a screaming match and I only stopped because I could see the the look of fear in her face. She was like a child being scolded by a parent. I was beyond upset and I ended up leaving, going into my room and numbing myself even more.
How could you be such a jerk to someone who was so wonderful to you? She was sick… she didn’t know what she was doing! You were a terrible granddaughter! She sacrificed so much for you and you couldn’t even show her an ounce of grace?!
I had completely forgotten about this. Even as I’m typing out this memory now… my heart breaks. When pressure is applied. the true self comes out. While I like to consider myself a kind and loving person, I still think of that confused, angry and sad little girl who just missed her grandmother, Rosemarie. I truly believe Holy Spirit brought this particular memory back in order to help me to understand I was holding on to it for far too long. By not letting go I was punishing myself physically, emotionally and spiritually and it was time to let Him heal me. He helped remind me just how much grace I needed then and how much grace I need now.
I bawled my eyes out that night and I knew that God was prompting me to forgive myself for my actions in that memory and for all my actions in regard to my grandmother.
So… of course in my classic Imaniness.
I didn’t let Him do anything…yet.
I did, however, cry it out; which in itself was a big step for me at the time. But, even though I came to a big revelation… I still held on to the hurt and pain that came along with it. Sometimes, I think we all come to points where we can’t deny the truth any longer. When we’re faced with such a discovery, we tend to cry them out or punch them out or drink them out or drug them out… yet, often we don’t actually surrender these heavy burdens to Christ.
If only I knew what I had in store if I had just let go and took a hold of my freedom then and there:
Acceptance of God’s overwhelming, guilt swallowing grace.
Understanding of Jesus’ unparalleled, transforming and perfect love.
Receiving my Lord’s well of forgiveness casting out all doubt and fear.
I wasn’t ready to see His divine kindness leading me to repentance. I couldn’t understand how Jesus yearned to lift my burden and give rest and break my chains to provide me with hope.
There was so much there and Holy Spirit was egging me on…
but I just sat there, weeping.
Again, in a place where I didn’t know what to do.
Again, at time when I didn’t know how to process.
Again in the place right where I left off.
Buuuut oddly enough… nay, Godly enough, this time was different.
Here’s my story of a guilt ridden girl and her Grace Giving God.
To be continued…
For I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
I will create rivers in the dry wasteland