Merriam-Webster defines "turning-point" as a point in which a significant change occurs. Significant changes have created the woman I am today. Changes in family, emotion, finances, and environment have molded me into Ifeyani Amal Yearby McLeod. My attitude is usually positive, my outlook is usually optimistic. My life has at times been anything but. Lacking beauty, positivity, and purpose. I continue to look at each turning point in my life to now create the beauty, positivity and purpose I desire.
Turning point #1: April 19th, 2004. My mother died. The woman who carried me in her womb, loved me unconditionally, and took me on trips around North America, ceased to exist. I was lost, confused and broken. I was thirteen and had no idea how I was going to deal with the journey ahead of becoming a woman. I became somewhat of a rebel, intentionally being combative with my father, who was also hurting, not trying in schooI, and desperately seeking acceptance from anyone. Throughout high school, I smoked, I drank, and looked for anyway to fit in or belong, much to my detriment. I hated being home so I stayed at school most days super late so I didn't have to be at home with my father who usually turned to drugs and alcohol to soothe his grieving heart. I ran, I avoided, I denied a lot of what I knew was going on just to cope. I ran away in 2008 when I was blessed with an acceptance to Jackson State in Mississippi, but not before another turning point.
Turning point#2: Good ole' Detroit violence takes away someone who was like family. My parents had no sons, but I was fortunate enough to grow up with three young men who were like my brothers that lived next door to me. In May 2008, one of them was murdered just a few blocks away from our home. He was about five years older than me and he and his oldest brother always treated me like his baby sister, and the youngest one and I were like two peas in a pod. I had not seen him in a few months, and remember speaking of him to his brothers. The week before he was killed he came to his grandmother's house who lived next door to us, I ran up to him and we exchanged hugs. I asked him where he had been and what he had been up to? We had a brief conversation outside of my house and said our goodbyes. As he walked away, I distinctively remember telling my bestfriend who was there with me "Well, I'll never see him again". And I didn't. I hated myself for saying that for a long time. I truly began to understand the term "speaking things into existence" at the young age of 17, and vowed I would start to speak more life into my world.
Turning point #3: June 2009. I was raped. I don't remember the exact date, but I remember the Bet Awards were on TV and I had been watching all night. It was late and my dad asked me to run to Wendy's and get us some frosties. I went . I was back from college for the summer and in some ways had forgotten where I was. I was in the drive-thru, when he approached my car, got in, and forced me to drive around for almost two hours with a pistol at my temple. I had an extremely small amount of money, seeing as though I was just going to get frosties, but that didn't matter to him. Eventually he took me to an abandoned house, and forced me to have sex with him. After, he led me out of the house and forced me to continue to drive around the neighborhood until he finally decided to get out of my car and let me go. Surprisingly, during the time I spent with him I was calm. I just wanted to make it out alive, and I did. After that experience, I knew I wasn't invincible.
Turning point #4: December 20,2008, My dad died. At this point, I knew I was alone. Before, I had feelings of loneliness, but this feeling was much more extensive. It didn't matter who was by my side, who helped, who called, who worried, I was alone. I knew I had God, but I still felt more alone than I had ever felt. I questioned why was this my life, what the hell did I do to deserve losing so much in such a short life? Who would take care of me? I was barely 20, and even though I was an adult, I wasnt really ready to be an adult. But I had to, so I did. I adapted the attitude of "take care of yourself, because nobody else will". I've grown since then and depend more on God, but that attitude is still there and just used as motivation to help take care of my family.
Turning point #5: Another brother dies. The youngest of the three brothers I mentioned earlier, was tortured and murdered in June of 2012. This broke me. He meant a lot to me and I hated that I couldn't get him out of Detroit, before it claimed his life. The bond we had was special and I still think about him a lot. I learned to tell people how much they mean to you, now! Never wait.
All of these turning points were negative moments in my life that pushed me and molded me to become the person I am today. They were rough times, where I was forced to pray and keep God close in order to get through. They allowed me to see the world in more ways than I wanted to, but gave me the insight I needed to stay focused in this journey.
I am now a wife, mother of 2, entrepreneur, teacher, lover, fighter, and a comedian in the right room of people. I'm resilient, grateful, appreciative, prosperous and blessed. I'm grateful for life's lessons, and appreciative for the people God placed in my life to guide me along the way even when I thought I was alone. As I move forward in building my business, Pretty Dope Beauty Co. , I pull on these turning points in my life for a reminder of the resilience God has given me before. I think back and thank him whenever I feel discouraged. Because of these experiences, I continuously speak life and prosperity over my family and my business. I believe that these milestones will forever make me and never break me.
Thank you for sharing your testimony Ife. We admire your courage and resilience!
You are a Queen, keep on Queening!