Updated: Oct 1, 2018
I’m writing this as I look over the Boston skyline. I’m in Boston for the week working on the National Office transition from Boston to Omaha, Nebraska. This week has been a whirlwind and it has made me think about the relationships I cultivate and how they build me up and how some tear me down
I remember during the eight years I was incarcerated the ups and downs of love, friendship, and my relationship to myself. My time started at 18 so I was a completely different person at 27 when I walked out of the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services fences. My ideas and understanding around what Love looked like, what honesty was, and how I showed up for those I cared for had evolved as well.
Inside of these institutions we have to be the version of ourselves that put us in the best position to survive and be respected. Sometimes it’s adding to who we are (white lies that we see as inconsequential but that can affect the authenticity of our relationships in the long term) and sometimes it’s holding much of who we are back. I usually erred on the side of holding back. The less folks knew about me the less opportunity they had to hurt me. Now you couldn’t tell me I didn’t have a harlequin romance or two in my number LOL—I just knew these men were going to be in my life forever. I gave and gave—trying to be the best partner I could be. But I wasn’t focusing on myself. What made me happy. Who made me happy.
On March 19th I’ll be 36 years old. Nearly a decade from my release and 20 years from my first experience with a relationship. What I’ve learned is that Love is Love. Whether it’s for yourself or a partner. Your parents or you’re bestie on the yard who you’ve ate every meal with for the last five years. It’s about loving authentically and purely.
*starts the intro to “Best of My Love” by The Emotions*
Ask yourself how do you love YOU? How do you show up for YOU? Is it consistent? Is it real? Is it healthy? Then look at your friendships and use the same set of questions.Last but not least grade your romantic relationship as well.
If one is getting more than the other it better be YOU loving YOU in ways that are brave, limitless and audacious! Because as you love yourself that way you’ll get in better practice of how to love others that way. You’ll also recognize when love doesn’t look the way it should.
Someone recently asked me when I started to feel normal after I had been released. Honestly, my feelings of being “normal” again were deeply connected to creating a network of people who saw me for who I was and the value in that.
Black & Pink sees your value. We see your strengths and we don’t judge you by your weaknesses. We understand that we are layered individuals who are working every day to be the best versions of ourselves.
Thank you for allowing us in your life. For giving us the opportunity to be your family. I can’t say that Black & Pink will always look the same but I will say the foundation of who we are as an organization will never change.
I’m sending you all love and light. Strength and limitless endurance. Joy and hope.
With Love, Dominique