When the world went into lockdown last year, Chloe Dulce Louvouezo went to work. At the top of 2020, the author of the newly released Life, I Swear: Intimate Stories from Black Women on Identity, Healing, and Self-Trust, took an idea she had been sitting on for years — to uplift Black women through narratives of overcoming — and turned it into a podcast, and then a book.
As the host of Life, I Swear, the Congolese native explores the trials and tribulations of these modern women through self-reflection and interviews. Her book of the same name shares the same premise but in written form. Through essays from friends, notables, and admirable women across the diaspora, Louvouezo doubles down on her belief that on the other side of life’s tests is an opportunity for healing and growth, and centering.
“I hate that term ‘finding yourself’ because it’s really about reconnecting with yourself in a beautiful way despite it being nonlinear,” Louvouezo tells EBONY. “Despite the path not being so clear cut, or experiencing a lot of ambiguity and anxiety along the way, on the other side of the totality of our life experience, the ebbs and flows are not in vain. They are working for us, not to us.”
In 2019 Louvouezo confronted that reality head-on. After an unexpected breakup, and then a miscarriage, the 30-something-year-old mother found herself grieving the life she had allowed herself to envision. Catharsis came through therapy, writing, and building up a community around black women who are encouraged to choose their own narrative and see themselves from a place of beauty and resilience, and joy.
The author and advocate shares with EBONY, her own journey toward healing and why she’s excited for Black women to read this book.
EBONY: This book, in its exploration of self-identity, speaks about finding home and determining, as a Black woman, what home looks like.
Louvouezo: Yea. Well for Black women, many spaces don’t feel like home because there’s not a sense of belonging in them. And so coming home to ourselves is about centering our existence, and centering our body, and knowing intuitively, tapping into that God-given intuition, and allowing ourselves to come home to ourselves.
You mentioned that the book has been well received, which isn’t surprising given its relatable nature and the topics explored. But I’m wondering what was the driving force behind you allowing yourself to be so vulnerable?
Life, I Swear is really a collection of conversations. These are conversations we have either with ourselves or with our core group of girlfriends. And I decided to write and curate this book because I’ve always enjoyed writing and I’ve always felt the desire to collect essays of women in some form. I sat on the idea for about 7 years. And I had written essays here and there over the years. But what brought me to writing the book is it was just timely in my own life. January 2020, I remember my resolution being that I was going to write this book. I wanted to curate these essays for myself, first, because 2019 was a really hard year for me. I have a son who’s five and I was in a relationship and was seven months pregnant. First, the relationship went awry and ended. And then a month-and-a-half later I lost the pregnancy. It was, as you can imagine, just a heavy, heavy time when everything I knew, everything that made sense to me, everything I planned for — just the visions I had for family and a second child as a mother — within two months were just not there anymore. I hit a very low low, but as I was coming out of it, and through therapy and through my own journey of figuring out what do I need? How do I need to meet my needs so I can get to the other side of my own healing work? I recognized that I hadn’t addressed what I was dealing with in that past year, and there were other things in life, and other life stories of mine, that I hadn’t fully addressed either. So I thought, let me just pull it out of myself and put it on paper. Let me write from a place of honesty.
Did you have any hesitancies about being so honest and open?
Oh, my gosh. Anxiety was probably my middle name through this whole process. Leading up to the release I even called my girlfriend and was like, “Can I call the press and tell them never mind… I don’t want to… stop the press?” I definitely lived in anxiety. You know part of the reason we’re not vulnerable is that we run the risk of people judging our stories without a full context or, being retriggered by having to go back and tap back into those hard experiences — how they felt or meant or what they said about us. And then obviously with this being my first book, it was kind of hard. A lot of my stories are personal. But then I also feel like storytelling, at least for me, and admittedly for some of the contributors, can be a tool for healing.
What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
I want readers to question the narratives that they tell themselves. Sometimes these narratives are from a place of denial. Sometimes we tell a narrative that is just reinforced by whiteness — a narrative of Black women that the world outside projected onto us. Sometimes it’s a narrative that men or our partners might project onto us. Or the narrative of other women that don’t actually speak life and power into us. So this book is an opportunity to put it all out there. Clear the slate, clear the table, clear this canvas. And then let’s rewrite our own stories from a place of grace and forgiveness, and then trust ourselves and our ability to then lead with that narrative.