In Bhanu Kapil’s book, The Vertical Interrogation of Strangers, there’s a Twelve Questions poem that I knew I wanted to find answers to the moment I read it. I love a great exercise of interrogation and of course, the hope that in some small ways, I discover some truth, come across a changed thought or simply better understand this self, this nuanced life and learn ways to carry well that which I have been given.
Question 1: Who are you and whom do you love?
My name is Tryphena Lizzert Yeboah. I have two other middle names. My father (who’s also my favorite man) was purposeful and extravagant with some things. Tryphena means delicate, fragile, or precious. This must be true because I am all of those things; the latter, it takes a little convincing, but I’ve seen how easily I break, how quickly. I think I’ve gotten better over the past months because I talk myself out of it. I have to be stern and say, “Stop it. Stop it.” Or sometimes I shake my head so every unfruitful and negative thought can bounce and float around in my skull and then disappear from the dizziness, or from the distraction. I believe my life is often headed in the direction of my strongest thoughts, so I’m careful what I allow into my mind, and for how long. Which of course makes me the queen of boundaries. Nothing makes me safer than raising walls and shutting myself out, but I admit I take that too far in moments when I ought to learn to trust.
Lizzert: named after an Auntie called Elizabeth, whom I never met. Meaning: God is my abundance. That too is true, probably the most honest thing about my life – that my life is intricately woven with the True Source, that the Creator of the universe dwells within me and for that reason, everything I could ever need to live the life I’ve been called to, I already have. What a profound thing to believe! My life is so enriched just by this truth, and I am constantly renewed by my acceptance and remembrance of it.
I believe a name is powerful so I’m happy to have started on this note. I am, in addition to being a child of God, also: a great listener, lover of organized and neat spaces, reader of good books (I stopped pushing myself to finish a book. I either grew impatient or couldn’t help thinking of all the good books I could be reading). I am impatient, a people-pleaser and very awkward in social settings (believe me, these are all being worked on, thank God!). I love gratitude! I love to live a quiet, solitary life of writing when I can help it, but then it gets lonely and my friends always take me back. I’ll say my greatest strength is my optimism, I am never without hope. Also, I’m punctual! I may be one of the few people who actually enjoys washing the dishes, if someone else does the cooking. I think I’m a good learner because I’m not afraid to make a fool of myself and laugh at myself. I like that about me a lot.
Weakness: I’m afraid I can be quite unforgiving. I don’t know what it is about rage and hurt that I like to carry around like a bag of fruits. Poisonous, those things! Every day, I lay a little piece of it down. Well, if I’m being honest, every once in a while I try to surrender. It’s hard to forget how people have made me feel but then I remember, I haven’t exactly been a garden of roses in their lives either. I need to extend kindness to others. I want to be more understanding but I know the reality’s that I am way too hard on myself and because I withhold that grace, it is the last thing I think to offer others.
I love my God, which of course, should set me up to love everyone else but this heart fails miserably. Mercy me. I love my brothers, EJ and Reg. I cried on Facetime to my little brother EJ two weeks ago because I simply missed him. And he didn’t know what to do about it. He was quiet on the phone and just listened and then he started to apologize for his absence. I realize how it can be all we have sometimes — real presence and if we dare, some empathy to recognize a breaking heart and allow ourselves to feel it too. I might be the only one in my family unscrewing the lock on their emotions at the moment. How scary that must be for them – what to do with me and my eccentricities? I love my mother. It’s a difficult kind of love, but no love is easy and our relationship has gotten so much better. Praise God!
This is going beyond my 500 wordcount; who would have thought one question could get this much out of me? I love my friends; I have a good batch of them! I also have a few close ones, like most people do: Sandra Hyde, Nadas and Nii Darko. These three I love immensely for who they are – the most compassionate, generous people I know, how long they’ve stayed and grown with me (over 10 years) and their unrelenting love for me. Lisa is my mentor who I simply adore and learn so much from. I love you, my people. You are home, when so much of this world feels utterly unhomely. I can’t thank you enough for choosing me, for rooting for me and for staying.
I have great love, I know, and a tremendous lack of trust; the hope is to crack my heart open and spill it all out rather than the careful, measured doses I tend to offer out of fear. If you’ve made it this far, thanks for coming on this journey with me.
Till the next question! ❤