Part V

September 18, 2022

After Eden

By Jemi Lassiter

It’s that time again. Time to wrap up another Part of Eve After Eden. 

 

Part V holds a special place in time for me. Here, Eve After Eden had its first partnership. We partnered with Mental Health Therapist Keisha Watson, LCPC, NCC and founder of Bright Journey Counseling in Bethesda, MD to launch “Affirmed After Eden”. 

 

Together, we shared affirmations to demonstrate positive self talk. Speaking negatively to ourselves is so easy that examples in words and appearance are absolutely necessary. If you missed any of the affirmations, visit us on Instagram (@_Eve_After_Eden). Watson was so easy to work with and genuinely invested in making sure women not only heard the words she spoke but saw how she practiced self care in more than one way. 

 

Because self care can be a day at the spa. 

 

Because self affirmation can be spoken or thought as you hike a scenic trail. 

 

Because self love can look like pouring yourself a cup of tea. 

 

Because self compassion can very much show up while you’re walking through a field of sunflowers. (Where did she find that place?!) 

 

Here, we covered career transition and career strategy, interior design and mom life. Shawna’s eye for design had me searching for new wall coverings and paint swatches! Latisha made me wonder how many other women thought they had found the ideal mentor only to learn their ideas and perspectives did not align. How she redefined her career spoke volumes on what great examples, real examples can do to shift the narrative we tell ourselves when it comes to what is truly possible. 

 

Perhaps two of our most serious stories since Part I were published here — the survivor stories of Kathleen Guillaume-Delemar and Arlene Ambrose. Their stories shook me at different times and for different reasons. 

 

With Guillaume-Delemar, it was instant. During our interview, I literally sat at her feet. I thought I would get better sound and better visuals from sitting on the floor. I hadn’t realized the truth of my vantage point until she began to walk me through her family’s lineage. We walked through her great grandmother’s life as a community advocate and political influencer in Haiti, her grandmother’s life as the family matriarch, her mother’s life as the golden child who fell from grace and worked extremely hard to get back on track. Then, we walked through Guillaume-Delemar’s life. It was only then, after I was introduced to the women of her family, that I could fully see the woman at whose feet I sat. I was interviewing her. She was teaching me about how she reclaimed her body, better yet her identity, with her voice. 

 

While our interview lasted for two and half hours, Ambrose’s interview was a solid 36 minutes. Her topic no less important but our time was limited and I knew that going in. 

 

I reached out to Ambrose to discover the impetus for her self care work with women. What I learned about emotionally disconnecting either before, during or after a physically traumatic event hit a cord with me… although it was not until I listened to the interview again, wrote and published the article that I realized why her story resonated in such an unexpected way with me. I experienced a similar event, blamed myself for it happening and moved past it, I thought. Like Ambrose, it was a nurse who had enough compassion for me to put a word to what happened, to name it for me. Like Ambrose, I returned to a familiar pattern until the people and places of that time became things I had to let go or  were removed from me. So, when our interview ended with an abrupt disconnection of Zoom, I was… numb. 

 

When I read the published piece, I became aware of myself and the eery  moment I disconnected. 

 

When Ambrose’s brother commented on her story with applause and surprise — he’d known slim to nothing about her personal life while she was in college — I was stunned that he learned the truth from me and not her. 

 

And, when Ambrose applauded the piece herself, I was honored she trusted me enough to share her story with truth, integrity and compassion. 

 

Part V ends with what I can only identify as appreciation. To every woman who granted me permission to work with her, hear her or spend time with her to collect not just a story but her experience, thank you. 

 

With every story I learn of through Eve After Eden, I appreciate the work each woman has done to create the life they live today. They are not working from a place of resilience or trying to live the stereotype of being a strong Black woman. They are choosing better for themselves. Better looks like conscious decisions and the courage to accept what may come. But, maybe appreciation is too small a word. 

 

Appreciation and Gratitude? Yes! 

 

I am so grateful to be trusted with these powerful stories. To be trusted to hear them, to write them and to share them. I think women reserve their stories for conversations. To have them documented with fact and emotion is rarely done for women… I mean let’s look at how much we know about Eve. I know for Black women, our stories are either tragic or a highlight. 

 

The spectrum of emotion is missing. 

 

Context is missing. 

 

Culture is missing. 

 

All the language carried in our voices and body language are missing from our stories but, Eve After Eden, fills that void one woman’s experience at a time. This is why the stories aren’t short. You know we can talk over a kitchen table for hours! Our stories are  neither brief nor shallow. We get into it, make connections from one part of life to the next and back again. We crack jokes, convey emotion through wordless sounds and let silence wash over us when the weight of the conversation gets too heavy for just one person to bear. That silence is all the women at the kitchen table holding that weight together, holding space for each other, making it momentarily lighter for one of us to continue. 

 

It is my hope, that the stories read like kitchen table conversations or a good girlfriend catch up session. It is my privilege to write them, to document a single experience from each woman and give you access to their story. 

 

To the women of Eve After Eden: Part V, I again thank you so much for sharing your experience with me. 

 

To the readers of Eve After Eden: Part V, thank you for returning each week.