As a Black woman, chances are you have been through one life experience or the other that may have left you scarred and unable to significantly move forward in life. You find yourself trying and trying to let go of the hurt but you just can’t seem to. If this is you, you are not alone.
I understand your struggles and pain, as I've been in that space time and time again. My healing journey has been a long one – and it took me about four years to be unconditionally okay with that.
Time tells its own story :)
After I had my initial bout with chronic depression, my general practitioner told me that my journey of managing my depression may be a lifelong one - as she was still seeing her therapist after 14 years of suffering from postpartum depression. I didn’t want that to believe that would ever be true for me.
That said, 5 years later – I finally understand. When I experience triggers, I still call my therapist and reestablish a meeting cadence so that I have help processing my emotions and centering myself. There are times that I need even more help balancing the chemicals in my brain when I’ve been down for a while, and I am completely comfortable calling up a psychiatrist for expert support in that area.
Leaning into vulnerability
I have open conversations with my partner and my parents about what I need when I am not at my best, and they are always quick to lean in with love and support. I am no longer impatient with my body. I listen to it and honor it by protecting it. I am a human, not a robot. Things hurt. Memories can be painful. I give my body the space to feel and process now, without trying to suffocate those feelings with work or productivity. It has been a long journey to get here, but I’m grateful that I am still here, living on earth, and am better equipped to nurture my body with unconditional love.
To give a bit of a backstory, I'd been extremely hurt in a past 10-year relationship, one that cost me my physical safety, marriage, mental health, and more. This experience came after a lot of childhood trauma where I was not always treated the best by caretakers either. All these added up to land me in a state of depression. Not only that, but love, something so beautiful, became a source of terror for me. At one point, I couldn’t imagine any worse hurt than a broken heart. But I’m happy that time told its own story. I found a beautiful love on a solo trip to Zanzibar. I am now in the healthiest relationship I’ve ever been in. I am newly engaged and excited about our future!
Leaving trauma behind and starting afresh can be hard, but it’s definitely achievable. I’ve done that twice so far in my life. The first time was when I left my marriage to move 2,700 miles away after experiencing abuse, and the second time was after deciding to quit my job in corporate America and move to the continent of Africa as an entrepreneur. Each time, I just went for it – with full confidence in my ability to readjust and thrive.
I didn’t have blueprints or drawn-out plans for either of those moves. I just did it. The pieces did fall into place. I created new friendships, I found work that supported my lifestyle, I learned so much from the new environments I was immersed in, and I was able to live with agency. Agency is important to me – having the right to choose. Doing what I want, because I want it. That, in and of itself, has power. I also always lean into my support system which includes my partner, my parents, my friends, my therapist, and my psychiatrist. They are all on speed dial!
Finding ways to protect your mental health is an important part of healing from traumatizing experiences. You need to figure out the things that trigger you and try to remove them from your life as much as you can. Personally, I make sure not to overload myself with work, as the consequences can be severe. I’d take daily naps and exercise at least 4 days per week.
Over the years, I’ve gotten better at recognizing when I’m triggered – and when I am, I remove that trigger from my life and look to avoid it in the future. I don’t force myself into conversations and situations if I know that I’m not strong enough to handle them. I don’t put time limits on when I should be strong enough to handle things… if it takes years for me, it takes years. I’m okay with that.
You're Not Alone
If you have experienced trauma and are struggling with getting back up and starting again, I’d like to encourage you to read my book Pain Unseen: The Truths That Lie Beneath My Strength. It’s really rewarding to see that you’re not alone in your experiences. It’s reassuring to know that you’re not wrong in the ways that you feel. Many women have reached out to say how much they saw their own lives represented on the lines in the pages of my book – and how it’s changed them forever.
I’d also recommend going to therapy. Therapy has given me a vocabulary for the things that I experience. Having the ability to ascribe words to my experience helps me to feel less isolated. I can bring the people that I love in on my experience so that they are better equipped to support me. I can reflect on my life and see patterns in my behaviors and have a deeper understanding of what I’ve been seeking and what I’ve been running away from. Vocabulary has allowed me to thread my own story together and uncage the little girl inside of me who deserves all the love in the world.