Guy Finley once said: “Freedom is not overcoming what stands in our way but it is understanding that what is in our way was part of the way.” Oh! How right! It is not easy to understand that the bad things that happen to us are part of our journey. We tend to forget them while making peace with them. Furthermore, we try to flee from them, act like nothing happened; but they did happen. We were hurt, judged, condemned, and “crucified” on the life’s cross. Days passed, months passed, we regained strength, rose up like eagles; but we can neither run from the past nor forget those bad experiences. Even when we do, we sometimes find ourselves reliving them through people, a similar situation or even during a healing process.
June 29th of last year was a normal day. Summer was just starting and I was still drafting my online business. The sun was hot and it was a perfect day to wear a sundress. School vacation was in its beginning and so was what I wanted to do including working three jobs to get the money I needed to launch my online store. Later that day around 5pm an incident occurred, the police arrested me with a charge of “unauthorized taking or transfer.” I remember the police officer checking my bag. Fellow Burundians were passing by, but none of them got the audacity or even the compassion to ask what was going on but they did spread the word as fast as they can (“Bad news don’t take stairs, they use elevators.”) I felt alone, scared with the officer going over every little thing I had in my Aldo bag. She did ask me if I have family I can call to meet us at the police station. I remember telling her that I had no one. I could have told her: “Yes, everyone you see staring at me, knows me in the Burundian community but they are strangers for the day”. Instead I told her that when I get a chance at the police station, I will have to call my lawyer Anna Welch. Anna is family to me since my first month here in Maine. I don’t remember any day or any time I’ve reached out to her for help and she wouldn’t reach back. She plays a big role into the woman I am becoming.
I sat behind the officer’s car. She drove to the police station and left me there. Two nice male officers received me. They ran both my background check and my immigration check. Fifteen minutes later, they took my fingerprints and told me they were building a case, that my lawyer would need to follow up and then I was released. They gave me back my bag and opened the door. I walked through the door, broken, hurt but somehow happy that I wouldn’t fight this alone, I knew Anna would stand by me. I emailed her and she came to my rescue. In fact, she got me an attorney at the Cumberland legal aid clinic. My case was ended in September(almost three months later).
A picture of the letter my lawyer sent. It said that my case was dismissed.
My charge was dismissed, my name cleared up. Well, at least that is what I thought. Until I met the world of the internet. Internet does not delete or clear up.
Two months later, I was in a plane going to Minnesota to see a friend, when I got a message on whatsapp
: “Hey J, your name is popping in a Portland Police beat at the Forecaster news”. She also told me that she got it from someone who send it saying “ There goes how she makes a living”. I did not respond to that message. In fact, I ignored it. I am a very stubborn person who thinks that I owe no explanation to anyone. But I did cry, full of pity for that person, because at the end of the day such people have more issues than the one they try to hurt; to be able to spread such negativity (when you don’t even know the person) is truly evil.
My life went on as well as my social life. My blog got more visitors and some when “googling” my name, found the arrest report. Some asked me about it. But I got to a point where it was too much to take. Especially when the people asking are not interested in the truth but in hurting you. My closest friend advised me to delete myself from the internet life. It was after I talked to the forecaster news. I sent them an email asking if they can remove my name from what they published but their response was right and I did understand. Here is a screenshot.(…..)
They were right. An arrest report does not say anything more than the fact that the person was arrested. They did not say that I was guilty or imprisoned. They wrote the truth: Yes, I was arrested. Since that day, I realized the problem was not the report being on the internet (even though We are working on taking that off), but the problem was who read it and interpreted it in their own way.
The truth is; the case was dismissed almost a year ago.
Now let’s get to the point of sharing this today:
It is my story. Despite what everyone may say or think. This is my own story. It was my experience, my fight. I lived this and pretty much alone but not alone. My own community rejected me. I am not afraid to say it because if we ever plan to change our country, let’s start with us. You cannot love abarundi you don’t see while there are those you see daily and are fighting battles you actually know but choose to ignore or add more to them.
I also shared my story because I have chosen a life that requires people’s trust. I really hate explaining myself since I was a kid. So this is because I think it is the right thing to do for all the people who trust my business and all my work and also those who are reluctant because they were warned about “my ways”. They need to know my story from myself, I had to break the silence. I also shared this because I want you to be inspired and encouraged. This experience didn’t stop me from having an online business and being active on social medias. When my close friend told me the best way to fight this bullying(yes, I was bullied too) was to erase myself from social medias; I told him I am not a quitter neither don’t I run away from uncomfortable situations. Where he saw an obstacle for me, I saw an opportunity. I told him that I want to own that world, that I will make a living out of that world. Believe it or not, that obstacle was a good sign that I belonged to the virtual world. I wasn’t going anywhere, I AM NOT going anywhere.
Now you my friend reading this, do not give up! God and you, are the masters of your own story. And I believe that obstacles are opportunities in disguise. You just need to change your mind and tell yourself that you will overcome this even if it means fighting alone.
Do not let a bad experience, a bad decision, anything or anyone keeps you from achieving what you want. Being uncomfortable won’t stop you from making things happen where you were told or even yourself thought it was impossible.
Today I join Guy Finley in saying: “ Freedom is not overcoming what stands in our way but accepting that what stands in our way was part of the journey.” That arrest is part of my journey. It shows that one day you may wake up and find your freedom stolen. It is your responsibility to get it back but most importantly to not allow anything to define you. You are undefinable. Don’t try hard to explain yourself because the creator of heaven and earth knows your heart and that’s what matters. Also along the journey, God has a way of justifying his Joseph ( Sometimes you need to go through a bad experience before entering your palace). Always remember, You are undefinable.