Truth moment: I finally watched the Oprah & Meghan interview, and one part in particular really resonated with me.
Meghan spoke candidly about the morning she told her husband, Prince Harry, that she needed help because she didn’t want to live anymore. These were not abstract thoughts, she explained to O. These were methodical, repetitive, real, palpable thoughts. The couple had an official event the same evening as Meghan’s revelation, and Harry told her “I don’t think you can go.” She responded, “I can’t be left alone.” That made me shudder. She was heavily pregnant with baby Archie at the time.
The next day, several friends and family members called Meghan saying how great she and Harry looked in all the pics taken at the event the night before. But Meghan saw something else in those pictures – fear. Looking down at the couples’ hands, their knuckles are white. They aren’t just holding hands, they are GRIPPING each other. Holding on for dear life – literally. Meghan even remarked that whenever the lights went down at that show, she wept, and then she would snap back to “be on” whenever the lights came back up.
I can relate. For a good four or five months last year, I was so down and hopeless at times, I had such thoughts. Not daily, but consistently. And at times, contrasting thoughts of my child are the only thing that pulled me back. “I don’t want her to go to prom and I’m not there,” “I don’t want her to shop for wedding dresses and I’m not there,” “I don’t want her to give birth and I’m not there – I can’t do that to her.” In my darkest moments, I was saved by practicality. That’s so me. Had it not been for the layered implications and that impact, who knows.
Believe it or not, that’s hardly the point. The point is no one was the wiser. Sure a few people knew I was going through something, but not to that extent. And others – who I’m very close to, by the way – said things like “wow you were holding all that in?” and “you’re a strong woman; anyone else would have been on the floor.” I receive that now; I own how I’ve carried myself and how I’m overcoming with both pride and power. Now. But I didn’t feel that in the moment whatsoever.
Still, I answered calls from any and every one with a cheery voice; I perked up for pictures; I continued to be of service and support for my loved ones the best I could; I continued to handle my responsibilities; I kept my ass washed and my nails done; I logged onto Teams every day and taught 70 kids with a smile on my face, encouraging and guiding them through the unfamiliar – and disconcerting – terrain that is distance learning, lockdowns, and uncertainty about so much.
But late at night, in bed alone…on the cold, hard bathroom floor…in the middle of cutting up veggies for dinner, sometimes I’d break down and cry (*cue Mariah and BTNH*). Occasionally, I’d earnestly ask God to strike me down right where I was. Anything to end the pain and the hurt and the loneliness and the shame and the failure that I felt so deeply.
I’m grateful that particular prayer was never answered and that He never left my side. The ancestors sent so many angels in human form to lift me up and see me through. But most of all, I’m thankful for my “why.” Mila is a typical nerve-wrecking six-year-old, but she is also atypical in her exceptionality. She emits a light bright enough to lead anyone out of the dark. My guardian. My guide.
So, I get it, Meghan. I put on a brave face for maybe a hundred people. I can only imagine putting on a brave face for billions. No matter our station or relation, we all deserve peace of mind. Bliss. And every time someone spouts “she knew what she was getting herself into,” my eye twitches and my pressure goes up. That is hardly the point, if valid at all.
Like Meghan, I’m getting my voice back and deciding not to let fear be my master. No matter how extreme a measure may seem or who may feel some type of way about it, we must do whatever it takes to protect our peace. Even if it means making a transcontinental move and relinquishing our thrones (s/o to “Coming to America”).
Meghan says what she wants everyone to take away from her experience is that there is another side and life is worth living. As I emerge on the other side, I double down on that. Still, it’s a process. Deep wounds don’t heal overnight. Cells must be regenerated, and layers of skin rebuilt. So, I pray for Meghan’s continued healing, my continued healing, and your continued healing. You deserve. And it is always worth it.