For last week’s #SpiritualSaturday reflection post, I simply posted a meme that I came across on Facebook. The meme reads, “When God sets you free, stay free. You better not return to what made you miserable.” #POW. Talk about words of power, perspective and truth.

With that being my theme for the month of March, I want to dedicate this week’s #OutspokenSunday post, toward living my truth out loud. I am learning, as I work so diligently to dispel myself of the personal lies and pathologies that have haunted me for so long, that this work never stops.

As long as there are wicked people in the world, seeking to obstruct access to the enlightened joy others seek, one must remain vigilant in their assertion of their freedom. It is one thing to become free. It is another thing for one to remain free.

In example, I have found so much healing and freedom from my past scars, through writing about my experience with rape, abandonment, abortion and miscarriage, to name a few. Yet, by writing about such harrowing beasts, once, twice, or even three, four, or five times, is not enough. By far. That is only the beginning.

“That is the only way I can reach the last step of the freedom stage, which is to turn back around, and lock that cage shut forever.”

By writing about it, I am actively locating the key to unlock my true joy, self-love and peace. Continuing to write about it, is my choice to use that key to unlock the cage of self-imposed prison within me. What’s next is perhaps, one of the hardest, if not the hardest step, yet. The next move toward my freedom, is for me to exit my cage once and for all, without looking or holding back, and walk into my freedom.

That is the only way I can reach the last step of the freedom stage, which is to turn back around, and lock that cage shut forever. My goal is not to simply find the key. Instead, my goal to use the key to unlock my freedom, and then lock away my past imprisonment, throwing away the key forever.

Much of this revelazation about where I currently am in my spiritual journey, was inspired by one of the most personally and politically impactful spoken word pieces, I’ve ever heard in my life. Her name is Sonya Renee. Her piece is namedWhy We Held Our Tongues.’ She had an abortion at 19. And she eloquently speaks power into all the reasons why she won’t, can’t, shouldn’t have to, hold onto the shame that the world seeks to impose on her body.

Through my blessed experience with this poem, I made the latest and greatest leap in my consciousness. You see, my power to remain free is for me to ensure that no outside forces may manipulate me back into my cage. If I have been able to come to the most eternal of peace, concerning the best and worse highs and lows of my life, why would I allow anyone, or thing else, to continue to cause me strife over it?!

I live in a world that tells me that people like me, people who have made the decisions and lifestyle choices that I have made, don’t deserve peace. We. Being women. Mothers. Poor. Different. Unique. Unusual. Spectacular. Non-conforming. We must live our lives, casted in the shadows of projected normalcy, acceptable fantasy and subject obscurity.

My freedom tells me that I don’t have to. My freedom says, “Hell no! I won’t go!” You can’t, won’t, don’t know how to put me back in that cage.

So, what did I do to show the world that I won’t ever be locked away again! I solidified my truth. I used my social media account as a platform for translating my testimony and confession. People often assert what Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, to name a few, are and are not meant for. Among all the quasi- porn photos, way too explicit lifestyle preferences and everyone’s relationship storyline, there never seems to be any room for the REAL, on social media .

“I made a conscious choice on how I would define myself. Through just one status.”

If someone puts a half-naked selfie up of themselves, posing in front of a floor length mirror, at best it garners 90+ likes, and at worse, people ignore it. If I post a testimonial about overcoming abortion, rape or homelessness, the whole world turns upside down.

Facebook has willingly adhered to complaints against my posts, on several occasions taking my testimonies down. I have even gotten comments about the made up “Do’s” and “Don’ts” of Facebook, from “Facebook friends”. And, I inevitably always meet an overwhelming wave of viral scorned, disdained and hateful cyber energy. I find that troublesome, to say the least.

In such, I again, used my Facebook account as a platform for my continued spiritual and mental freedom, sharing my greatest testimony yet. I made a conscious choice on how I would define myself. Through just one status.

I can’t thank Sonya Renee enough for the empowerment, inspiration and strength her words instilled in me. Being that Facebook deleted my status, I thought it only fitting to repost what I wrote on my website. Here’s what I had to say.

In Honor of Sonya Renee’s ‘Why We Held Our Tongues’: Owning My Abortion Truth

I don’t believe I could ever find the words to express what this video, this poem, this performance, this woman, mean to me right now. God please guide my tongue and my heart right now, as I testify.

As a person who interestingly enough, worked in the sexual reproductive health field for about as long as I’ve been making sexual decisions, I find the topic of owning one’s abortion to be an interesting one.

This video helped me realize now, how easy it is for people to join in the celebration of movements, without doing any real work. For more than ten years, I’ve been connected to the most die-hard community of “Pro- Choice” people.

Yet, that’s the most cliché and taboo circle to actually represent what “Pro Choice” really means. In example, I have had an abortion before. In fact, I’ve had two. But, when I say that, the whole world goes nuts! And I don’t understand it. Because most of the people I know, represent, or at least say that they represent, “Pro Choice” values.

Everyone is real quick to say ‘I support legalized abortion’. But when they find out someone has had an abortion, they’re face is all turned up. In the same way that I can say I survived a miscarriage, sexual assault, rape, all five major forms of abuse (financial, emotional, psychological/ mental, physical & sexual), police brutality, homelessness, hunger, depression and God knows how many other tragic lows, I can say I survived a damn abortion!

And no, I’m not ashamed. I am wise. I think twice. Three, four, five and sometimes, even ten times. And yet, I am human. I am flawed. And I have made mistakes. Mistakes so huge, I’ve been forced more than a time or two to decide between survival or demise. And every single time, I chose survival. That is the only reason, Shaquana Gardner stands before you, the beautiful woman of God she is today!

It is in the God in me. Like Mary Mary said, “You don’t know how much I pray… don’t know how much I gave… don’t know how much I changed. I’m just tryna explain.” And as #SonyaRenee said, “I did choose life! Mine!”

No one on God’s green earth has to agree, respect, honor, salute or even give two craps about my story and my truth. It’s MY story. MY truth. And my decision to live that way doesn’t lock me into the shamed world of “liberal-minded, American blinded, western absorbed, White-washed disillusioned youth of the future. I still remain a Queen. A Black Queen. Honorable. Beautiful. Powerful. And downright amazing! Because I said so. And I can back it up.

I spend more time honoring the beauty I see in others, and less tearing down the flaws they reveal. People are people. We have our stories and our struggles. We are made in our Father’s image. And we are not perfect. But we have the ability to strive to be better. And that’s what it is all about. That’s what being blessed to wake up everyday is all about. Another chance to be a better you. A stronger you. A wiser you. A more righteous you. And how you survive in order to make it to the next day, is only between you and God.

That’s how I live my life. And that’s the people, energy and world I am surrounding myself with from here on out. If you don’t fit, you don’t fit. I still love you. I always respect you. And I wish you the best. I pray if not now, you find it in you heart to feel the same way for me one day.

Thank you for sharing in my journey, truth and testimony. A’se! God bless you all! Peace & Blessings!!