I just learned a new word.
The word’s origins stem to a book by Kenji Yoshino, titled “Covering: The Hidden Assault On Our Civil Rights.”
He writes: “Everyone covers. To cover is to tone down a disfavored identity to fit into the mainstream. In our diverse society, all of us are outside the mainstream in some way […] every reader of this book has covered, whether consciously or not, and sometimes at significant personal cost.”
I started covering around 14. At first unconsciously, just trying to fit into the white-girl-social-norms of the Charlotte-elite. (There’s probably a better word there. I am open to suggestions.) Competitive sports and drinking-too-much were the temporary fixes. When I was under the influence of either of those powerful coping mechanisms, I was free, at least temporarily of the covering.
Eventually the temporary fixes stopped working. And on July 6, 1993 I hit bottom. I wasn’t sure there was a way out from underneath the layer upon layer of inauthenticity I had fluffed up around myself.
And on the afternoon of July 7, 1993, as a thunderstorm brewed in the distance, the reckless winds battering the limbs of the trees outside my window, I heard a voice and it said, “Go. Now. It’s time.”
Now hold on. Let’s stop right there. Don’t get freaked out by that. We all hear voices. Right now…as you read my words you hear my voice inside your mind. When you look around your room, you’ll notice words inside your thoughts. “See the kitchen. See the candle. I wonder how my kids are doing. I haven’t done my Christmas shopping yet.”
Those are voices and at any one point there’s lots and lots of them competing for center stage within your mind.
I will admit that I often have some confusion about which voice is mine, which voice is yours, which voice is society’s and which voice is what I call “The Winks from the Other Side”…the voice that supersedes all the others, the voice that loves unconditionally and leads a person to their true self, their uncovered self.
And on July 7th, for the first time, I heard, as loud and clear as the voice you now hear in your mind reading these words, a voice say, “Go. Now. It is time.”
What was She referencing? I wanted to go for a run, but I was afraid. The weather was potentially dangerous. I remained indecisive for an hour or more, fumbling around my little apartment, depressed and at a loss.
And then I stood by the window, looking out at the rain, the wind and the lightening and I just heard Her. Bam. Just like that like a voice outta nowhere. “Go. Now. It’s time.”
And so I did.
It was about mile five of that run where I experienced an “epiphany” of sorts. At the corner of Kenilworth and East Boulevard, I experienced, consciously for the first time, my uncovered self. I wasn’t a woman. I wasn’t white. I wasn’t poor. I wasn’t a runner. I wasn’t an alcoholic. I wasn’t divorced. I wasn’t unemployed.
I was nothing. No thing. And I realized that for 30-some years I had been allowing others to define the no-thing-ness of me.
And for the record that no-thing-ness was and is the most beautiful no-thing of all and you know what’s great about it? It’s who and what you are too.
We are all just so covered up sometimes it’s hard to see it, be it, honor it both in ourselves and other people.
I’ve heard that Voice of Truth on two other occasions and just like the first time, Her words are simple and the same.
Go. Now. It is time.
The second time I heard Her was on a cool December afternoon in 2000. My marriage had been a source of intense pain and sorrow and I had been back and forth for months unsure of what to do. Hank was just five and Helen, two. I had been suffering from debilitating anxiety, barely making ends meet and Girls on the Run was trying to make a go of it. I was so covered up by the roles of life, the anxiety, the fear of failure, the fear of not living up to the wife and mother expectations…I couldn’t find my no-thing-self anymore.
And so when She spoke, this time, I felt some relief and yes…definitely fear. But she was clear…again, as clear as the words you now read on this page.
“Go. Now. It is time.”
And so the kids and I did. Two months later.
A little while after we moved into our duplex, I was drinking some tea on the front porch. My kids were safe and asleep in their beds. There was just enough food in the fridge and my checking account was in the positive for the first time in a long, long time.
And there was peace in that state of absolute no-thing-ness.
And it was good and beautiful and whole.
And so it should be no surprise to you or me that I’m heading to the middle-of-nowhere Texas. After all, She said it again. “Go. Now. It is time.”
I have no idea what’s in store and frankly am trying to have few expectations.
But I gotta tell you. Based on previous encounters with Her, there’s something magical and wonder-full and necessary coming because I’ve come to trust Her in ways that words simply cannot do justice.
Go. Now. It is time.