Renee’ Dugue Co-Founder and Executive Director of Reborn & Rising
How do you grow up during a time in a place considered the deadliest City in the country, and have wonderful memories? When I think back to life in The Desire on Agriculture Place, one of my favorite things to do was lay on the lawn and stare at the sky. When I reminisce with my mom, a bittersweet look washes over her. Her pride in providing that joy is covered with pain. She had no idea that just two feet below our perfectly manicured St. Augustine grass was twenty feet of waste, and dozens of toxins collected over sixty years dumped by the City of New Orleans. Sad to imagine what my little body absorbed and its effects on me. Regardless, I still smile remembering the countless hours I spent daydreaming…imagining what it felt like to fly and soar in the clouds.
As babies, we’re born filled with trust and ready to love. As we grow older, we allow our hurtful and painful encounters to breed fear. For so long I wallowed in fear of loss and failure and force-fed my son poisoned coping tactics; pounding the seeds into his body and mind. His scars covered them like soil. Modeling me and the memories of his dad, he grew and nurtured these seeds with self-destructive behavior. He drenched them with alcohol and fertilized them with drugs. We existed in a perpetual state of survival; a non-stop loop of fight or flight. Violence and silence became the norm in our love-hate relationship that ping-ponged the spectrum of emotions. Naturally, New Orleans, we did that bi-polar bounce from zero to one hundred really quick. We were so 504; there truly was no limit to our dysfunction. For years I told my son “When it’s time for me to die, I’m going skydiving and I’m not pulling the parachute.” This seriously was my plan.
It is purely by the grace and mercy of Our Creator that you read these words today. Far from perfection, my son and I are healing and on our road to recovery. My first step was to face and let go of the fear that had grown like weeds and was killing us. To symbolize this step, on my 45th birthday, I went skydiving! In jail, my son was not present to witness this life-altering experience, but his nephew, my grandson, Czar, who affectionately calls me Honey, was right there. I was so excited to describe having clouds in my mouth! He told me he was scared when I went up in the plane. I admitted I was too but chose to be brave and jump! In amazement, he said “Wow! Honey, I’m so proud of you. Uncle Reneé will be too.”
My son couldn’t believe I actually went skydiving and chose to pull the parachute’s cord. I shared with him that in doing so, I intentionally chose life, forgiveness, freedom from guilt, pain, and shame, and to fully embrace every day as a wake-up call to rise, shine and share the beautiful light that lives in all of us. I encouraged him and I encourage you to do the same on your journey to purpose.
Renee’ Dugue is a Healer, Artist, Writer, Humanitarian and Co-Founder and Executive Director of Reborn & Rising in Houston, TX, and welcomes kindred soul connections. RebornAndRising@gmail.com