In Bloom - Finding Treasures in the Darkness (Book Introduction)

In Bloom is a 4-week course that aides writers that are ready to blossom. In this study, writers are led through four seasons of developing as a writer and finding their way to the fruitful season of harvest. These posts are what they've reaped from their time of exploration in the study. 

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Zenobia Bryant 

I have been living a lie.  Lately, the person I portray to be is not who I really am.  Every morning I wake up and I squeeze my new form into an outfit that is four years too old.  But yet I wear it anyway because it would take too much energy to explain the changes.  It has been said that life changes you.  But what they didn’t tell me is that you do not realize how much you have changed until you wake up one day with the task of having to introduce the new you to the world.  It is true life does change you.  It should change you.  But what is written in the fine print is that with life comes grief and grief transforms you in ways you would never expect.  

CLICK TO TWEET /// You do not realize how much you have changed until you wake up one day with the task of having to introduce the new you to the world - Zenobia Bryant

Grief is the one thing that is certain for everyone if you live long enough but it is also the one thing that seems to be swept under the rug.  It is the one thing that is common but it is also the one thing that is left undiscussed.  As an African American female, born into a family with roots that spread deep into the South like a tall, strong oak tree I can only speak from my perspective.  From where I sit,  it seems that it is expected that grief will only last as long as it takes for the last family member or friend to leave your side and return to their respective homes and lives.  It seems that in black culture grief is simply something that you should square your shoulders and get over so no one speaks about the ugly parts of grief.  No one speaks about the lonely side of grief.  No one talks about the fact that after the funeral is over and the food from the repast packed away the support leaves and you are left to figure out this journey by yourself.  No one told me that your church family may be there to help you get through the funeral but then they would return to life, as usual, leaving you feeling like you have stepped into the twilight zone.

In today’s society, it seems that grief is the only major wound that is expected to heal in the shortest amount of time.  If I were to have surgery or break a bone and the recovery time was four to six weeks, my employer would have to accept that with no questions asked.  But when I lose a family member I get one to three days of bereavement depending on the relation of the deceased.  So, on too many occasions I have had to return to work in a dense fog, bleeding and oozing on the inside because I needed to keep my job.  It doesn’t make sense to me.  How can someone be expected to focus and be productive when their heart is hurting so bad it feels like their chest is about to cave in?  I think one of the issues is no one talks about the truth of grief and what it actually does to a person.  There is not much said about the rawness of grief and what it takes to recover from something so severe.  It seems like recently everyone is trying to normalize some aspect of being human and living but I have yet to see a campaign that wants to “normalize grief.”  So I have decided that I will take the risk and be the one to bare my soul as I speak on the rawness and ugly parts of grief.  It might as well be me because I have been living with grief as a constant companion for a while now.

 In 2013, I lost my maternal grandmother.  She helped raise me and was more like a mother to me.  In 2015, my Uncle Grady passed in August followed by his daughter (my cousin) Opal in September.  Opal was 36 years old and passed away exactly a month after her father.  In May of 2016, my cousin Christina and her daughter, Mari, were killed in a house fire.  Christina was 25 years old and her daughter was 4.  That December my Aunt Rosemary passed.  The last time I got to see her was at the funeral for Christina and Mari, who were her grandchildren.  In March 2017, my paternal grandmother passed away and in June my Aunt Shirley passed.  So as you can see I have been walking this journey a long time and if I am honest, I still have a long way to go.  

I can remember standing outside the church in Savannah, Georgia watching my brother and my cousins load my grandmother’s casket into the hearse as I was standing there trying to wrap my head around what I was experiencing.  I can remember so vividly standing there watching them lower my grandmother’s body into the ground and my heart filling with anger.  So much anger that I walked away and hid until it was the time to leave the cemetery.  I did not want to greet people and make small talk or pretend I was happy to see them.  So I hid.  Even when told that people were looking for me my response was “I know and I don’t care.”  When told to smile I only smirked and walked away.  In that moment what was there to smile about?  Both my grandmothers were gone.  There was yet another loss etched into my calendar.  My already broken and wounded heart was smashed yet again this time landing on the floor in even more pieces than before.  

My life was shifting yet again before I could even begin to recover from the last shift.  Yet all people could do was tell me to smile or utter those God-forsaken words, “I’m sorry for your loss,” that I can no longer stand.  How can you be sorry when as soon as those words are uttered you are already moving on to the next person or task not even stopping to listen to my response or take a moment to hold me?  So I hid because grief is not normalized where I come from.  It is not the topic of conversation.  No one tries to give advice about it like they do on breastfeeding or raising a child.  So I hid because I felt like I didn’t fit the standards of what “grief” was portrayed to be and I thought something was wrong with me.  

Now I realize that in my hiding I have been living a lie.  But the truth is I am not the same person I was four years ago.  I have been forced to walk this journey of grief and in so doing it has transformed me.  Every day I hurt and feel some sort of pain.  Some days the grief knocks the wind out of me and other days it’s just a mild throb, but every day it’s there.  It’s there in my smile, it’s there in my laughter, and it’s there in my tears.  Some days she demands my attention and some days she gives me permission to ignore her.  But every day she’s there.  And thus in my quest to explore grief and the parts of her that no one speaks about I decided that she too should be normalized.

CLICK TO TWEET /// If there is not a glimmer of hope in the darkest of moments, life itself becomes worthless. -Zenobia Bryant

I assume that if you have made it this far in this book that you have been forced to walk the same journey I have or that you are facing some other hard trial in your life.  While the lessons shared in this book will be based on what I have learned while on this grief journey and from seeking God concerning His purpose for all the pain and suffering, it is my hope that you will find something that will help you as well.  In the midst of seeking God like never before and opening myself to His divine healing, I began to realize that majority of my suffering was not for me at all but to spread hope and encouragement to a dark world.  If there is not a glimmer of hope in the darkest of moments, life itself becomes worthless.  It is my prayer that the words shared in this space can provide a glimmer, even if it is a small one, of hope to anyone who may be in need.  I pray that the words written here will help you find treasures in the darkness and help bring a little piece of heaven to Earth.

Isaiah 45:3 King James Version (KJV)

And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the Lord, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel.

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Hello, I am Z.  I currently live in Maryland, but I am originally from Georgia.  At the top of the year I was blessed to have been on this earth for three decades.  Something that as a child and young adult I never saw happening.  As someone who has battled with depression and anxiety, I have seen my share of hard moments and low times.  However, I will have to say the past 4 years of my life have been some of the hardest yet.  The things I once thought I knew have been challenged tremendously.  My “world” has been turned upside down, left, right, and once I thought it was stable it was shaken once again.  The contents of my heart have been upheaved and spewed everywhere, like lava from a volcano eruption, no longer allowing me the privilege of ignoring the pain and dark secrets that lied within.  I have had to and I am in the process of facing, accepting, and dealing with many hard truths.  As I am in the process of healing and moving forward, I have found myself in a very introspective stage where I find myself asking God what was His purpose for all of this pain and suffering.  In the midst of seeking God like never before and opening myself to His divine healing I begin to find small riches in the midst of my darkness that I never would have found had I never entered into this place.  I also begin to realize that majority of my suffering was not for me at all, but to spread hope and encouragement to a dark world.  Thus, “Treasures in Darkness” was born.  If there is not a glimmer of hope in the darkest of moment’s life it becomes worthless.