The Trauma Chamber: Head/Temple
A very strong lesson that I learned over my years—it is not worth doing something that brings your misalignment. There are numerous things in life that you will not enjoy, but there isn’t necessity for things that disrupt the alignment with God and with the Spirit—no matter the accolades.
If you know my previous career history (it is already liberating to say such), you will know that at age 24, I became an Assistant Professor of Social Work, Tenured-Track. I then transitioned to become Director of Multicultural Affairs at a University in Texas at the age of 25. I transitioned from that position to become Assistant Director of Multicultural Affairs at a different institution.
I am now 28, and a Writer, Photographer, and Executive Wellness Coach—I’ll let you do the math.
In security of the institutions I honor, I will not disclose specific experiences with specific entities. I also want to highlight that there were far more blessings that manifested from each experience than burdens—nonetheless, there were burdens.
I remember through each position, I would have consistent headaches weekly, and sometimes daily. It was not because of the brightness of my office lights. It was not from the vigor of the job. It was not from the tenacious personalities of my students. It was the dimming of my own light to operate in broken systems. It was the vigor of the methodology used upon the development of my future leaders. It was the tenacity I possessed to fit into spaces that did not align with my values.
There were moments where I was asked to compromise the well-being of my students to save the face of an institution. Moments where I listened to administration call my students stupid, slow, and ghetto. Moments where my exact words were changed in a public setting. I can’t count how many times I closed my office door and cried because my hands were clenched, my wrists were contorted, and my arm sockets fell out of place by the very entities I gave my time to serve at.
There are worst realities.
I told myself that I should feel privileged to be a black woman with such an esteemed position at such a young age. I told myself that the slander and sabotage towards me was deserved. I told myself that this is what it should feel like to make it to your dreams, because that was all I saw. I internalized the narratives and perspectives of others to the point I didn’t have one of my own. I was taught to sacrifice my own ideology for the stability of the systems that were crushing us all of our well-being. I almost lost my life. I almost lost an understanding of Christ. I almost lost who I was designed to be.
I recognized that my mind was the center of my spiritual connection (Romans 12:1-2) and was the space of my self-perception. Therefore, my headaches were telling that I was not renewing my mind to Christ, but my mind was conformed to everything around me. I was not living in the true perception of who I was, but a created perception of everything around me. Thus, with a heavy heart, I left these positions. I remember my last crying statement—“I’ve rather not know what is coming next financially then continue to not be who God designed me to be”.
I hope to work in conjunction with higher education institutions in the future as I love to educate future leaders. With this, I promise to always include my true gifts of artistic expression, empathy and justice, while developing spaces of wellness and authenticity for all involved. If it’s not that, then I don’t want it.
Most of all, I promise to always maintain aligned through the Spirit, my body, my mind, and my environment.
To my body:
“Please forgive me for the journey we have endured together that has caused you harm.
You are so loving and so gracious for holding space as I learn more about life.
You are beautiful. You are wise.
Continue to protect us from any harm and deserve me in all spaces.
We are a vessel for love, alignment, and light.”
The Trauma Chamber: Throat/Neck and Shoulders
I was sexually assaulted by two different women.
I know that is not the common narrative for women, as there are many powerful movements on awareness in sexual assault, yet sadly there are small pockets of spaces created to talk about woman-on-woman assault.
One instance was the daughter of a family friend. My dad and the family friend went to the store, so the daughter and I were home alone. I remember disclosing to her that I loved Nelly, and she told me to close my eyes and pretend that I was at a Nelly concert. Upon closing my eyes, she began to touch upon me in ways that I felt highly uncomfortable with. I cried and asked her to stop multiple times, but since she was older than me, she pinned me down and proceeded. For years—actually, until I was 26, I could not close my eyes fully around women.
The second experience was from my best friend at the time. I’ll leave it at she wanted to play, “Doctor”, even when I kept screaming no. I now remember my no’s because more faint as she proceeded. I remember my throat clenching to lock up the words I thought I had the right to speak. I remember being taught that my no’s meant nothing. I remember my shoulders tightening externally to stop me from fighting. My body stopped fighting.
For years, I couldn’t trust being around women. I feared having close friends because I knew my voice would be silenced, and I knew my shoulders would freeze from protecting me. It saddened me that I couldn’t experience the intimacy with others that I desired. Even more, it saddened me that this experience closed my throat, neck, and voice for so many years. I stopped speaking my true emotions. I stopped advocating when something hurts. I stop fighting for me.
I carried the stress of shame in my body that my innocence was taken in such a perverted manner. I was ashamed that I should have been strong enough to fight since it wasn’t a man. I buried myself under the lustful sexual narratives that society fantasizes on between two women. Their pleasure is my pain. Their excitement is my vocal extraction. Their tease is my trauma.
I allowed myself to experience beyond my traumas, while not becoming re-traumatized. I recognized that I projected my experiences of two women onto all women, which wasn’t fair nor healthy for my social development.
I prayed, breathed, and walked slowly into intimate relationships with women. I communicated the roots of my trauma from those who I considered close.
I also healed the shame from my experiences so I could share my truths with others. I allowed permission to speak my truths to myself, and to others.
I recognized that although the possibility of being assaulted again may exist, there are many possibilities to have loving, and safe relationships.
To my Body:
“You are so worthy of being honored.
You did not fail me. The world failed us.
Thank you for remaining so strong,
Even when it felt so difficult.
You are so beautiful.
You deserve love.
Together, we will embark on our own love,
And we will ensure that others treasure us just the same.
I share grace in our attempts to survive harmful moments,
And will always trust that in time,
We will heal.
Thank you for releasing my voice once again,
As we shared fear together.
Thank you for allowing love,
And expressing beautiful love to others.
We are conquerors.”
The Trauma Chamber: Heart
“We just don’t know what to do with you.”
The words that settled into my heart and has framed my image as a friend. I will never forget the moment when a few of my friends at the time sat me down and explained how they didn’t know how to deal with a person like me.
At this time, I was a very young adult. I lost my mama and grandpa, I saw things I should not have seen at such a young age, and I was away from home trying to navigate life as an adult. I had no understanding in reading the emotional capacity of others. I assumed that if we were close to each other, then we would tell each other everything.
Friendships have been my worst trauma, according to all of my therapists. I truly lodged in my heart tons of negative narratives of who I was as a person based on my friendships. I learned over time that it wasn’t that something was wrong with me. It wasn’t even that they were bad people. I was just trying to fit in to places where I didn’t belong.
I was just trying to fit into places where I don’t belong.
Fitting in meant stuffing myself into spaces that weren’t created for me and my personality. Often, this is easy to do at a PWI (public white institution) where you have to stick with the few people who look like you. Nonetheless, it doesn’t mean that is where you belong. Where you can be yourself. Be free. Be expressive. Explore healthy relationships.
I, and many others, were taught at a young age that nice people were able to be friends with everyone; therefore, you should be friends with everyone. This means you must be adaptable and change yourself in diverse situations. Truthfully, while it is great to be cordial with everyone, it is not the healthiest to change yourself in different settings—especially in your deemed friendships. Friendships should be your home base, your comfort. It shouldn’t be a place where you have to wear yet another mask to survive. You shouldn’t have to survive friendships.
I struggled with calling people close friends and best friends who were just available in proximity. I considered people close because we knew each other for a long time, or went through similar experiences, or participated in similar clubs. Never did I evaluate, “if these circumstances vanished, would they still be considered my friend?”
I kept those very people around who said they didn’t know how to deal with me. Who ran the other way when they saw me coming. Who ignored my calls and denied hanging out with me. Who blocked me on social media. I kept them around because I thought I was failing at being a good friend, when in reality, they just weren’t the friends that I needed to have. No matter the years. No matter the shared experiences. No matter the traumas. Where I belong is where I belong.
I first realized my worth. I set boundaries. I accepted who I am and where I belonged. I recognized that friendship was not about WHAT you have, but WHO you have. Once that settled in, I was healthier. Free. More able to give and receive love. I erased the standards of friendship based on years, proximity, or shared experiences. I liberated my heart into forgiveness, empathy, and acceptance of who they are, not who I hoped for them to be. Once I accepted me for me and them for them, I could live in TRUE love, not malice. That was the true point of liberation. Acceptance of where we ALL, belong.
To my Body:
“Forgive me for the tough journey we endured.
To all of the people I exposed you to,
I know that you managed it with everything that you had.
I thank you, for being such a big heart.
For having a large space with such wide walls.
I will remember to care for you,
And ensure that others follow such stride.
You deserved to be protected and honored.
I love you, as much as you love me.”
Trauma Chamber: Sacral/Pelvis
“Actually, I don’t think you’re that pretty at all.”
What just a very young boy decides to deliver to me during shotput practice in 8th grade has somehow lodged into my spirit forever. How interesting—the millions of times I’ve heard otherwise, but this one was the one that sticks.
Perhaps the root already began to build in kindergarten, when a little white girl put her hand on my chest and said, “you’re too dark an ugly to play with us. You look like the blacktop. You can only be white to play in this circle.” My daddy fought that school tooth and nail to get her suspended, but it almost got me in more trouble. Imagine going to tattle on someone not because they stole your pencil, but they stole your innocence of racism, as well as your confidence.
I remember taking a bath that night and putting bleach in it to “scrub off the black”. My daddy stepped in just in the nick of time and was almost brought to tears that his baby girl hated her skin so much that she tried to scrub it off. My daddy explained to me the world of racism, but he didn’t think it would filtrate forever.
So yes, the root began then.
It was watered when I moved from California to North Carolina and I was ugly because I didn’t have a perm. I didn’t wear tight clothes. I didn’t chase boys around. It was a nightmare. It was yet another reminder that who I was, WAS NOT ENOUGH.
I now come back to this day. The day where I finally regained enough confidence to say aloud that I am beautiful. For someone to create a gust of wind to say, “actually, I don’t think you’re pretty at all” brought me back to that root of the 5yr old girl with a palm in her chest. It was now a sturdy plant in the garden of hatred. I, do not belong.
This root grew exponentially over my high school and college years. I hid my sexuality not just for the respects of remaining pure, but because I was assured that no one wanted me. I wasn’t open. I wasn’t free. I wasn’t myself because the root was held so tightly in the garden of hatred that I could not even rustle in the breeze. These words always taught me to aim low so that if something happens high, you will still be safe. Those words changed me. Those words enslaved me.
I recall the freshman year of college where I would break mirrors constantly in my dorm (yes, it really got that bad). The irony that I would destroy my only representation of truth when the representation of lies destroyed me. Year after year, I battled with feeling beautiful not because of what I saw in the mirror, but the rooted plant I saw in my heart. Until I could cut it down, there was no way I could be free. It’s more than thinking you’re pretty over ugly. It’s believing truth over death.
If you have ever cut a huge tree down, then you know that you either have to let the whole tree fall over to lift out roots or cut most of it down and dig up the rest. If you know about trees, then you also know that 1) tree roots spread quite far and 2) most trees have shallow roots. I recognized that although the roots have spread far (relationships, picking a career, family, boundaries, self-image, sexuality), I can see where the work needs to be done.
Therefore, I am lifting from the roots.
I remind myself that sometimes people say harmful things to others because they have experienced harm to themselves. It can only be passed around or transformed—not destroyed. Therefore, empathy has healed me. The understanding of what people have experienced helps to remind me that it is not personal. It may be all they know. I am able to forgive, love, and pray for them. I am also able to love them from a healthy distance that allows both of us the space we need to heal.
I remind myself that the verbiage we use may convey different perspectives in our messaging. We may call someone “ugly”, but they may be beautiful for someone else. Therefore, I am comforted in remembering that I am not attractive for everyone. That is okay. As a friend, family member, employer, romantic partner, or business partner, I will not be attractive for everyone—but I am for someone.
The Bible has so many scriptures to remind me of my worth. I remind myself consistently of the truth. I also take root in who God created me to be with honor and love. Therefore, I run in abundance to be who God has designed me to be, living for the Kingdom, and see where the rest of the world lies upon that.
There are moments where I still believe that I am “ugly”, and even moments that I cry. They are often associated with the trigger of not being enough for someone or something. I remember to be kind to myself and know that there is still some digging to do. I also remind myself of the process above and trust that I am becoming more affirmed in my beauty each and every day.
I listen to my gut. My Sacral chackra ACHES when I am around someone who is emotionally dangerous or who does not aligns with the truth God has proclaimed. I listen when creative energy is stifled because my environment doesn’t empower my talents. I listen when my sensual connecting energy is stifled because the person is romantically unsafe. I spent years in a relationship where my sacral was in knots. It’s not just uterine and ovarian issues. It’s unalignment. I now, listen.
Furthermore, I remind myself that each day I am blessed with, I will believe in truth more and more because I deserve it. I will keep digging up the roots until I look in the mirror and there will be no tree. It will be a garden.
To My Body:
"I take accountability for shaming you in your most vulnerable moments.
When we tried to be strong, we felt so weak.
Please forgive me for harming you in response to others harming us.
Forgive me for never saying, “you look beautiful, today” on your worst days.
I took you for granted. You kept me sturdy.
I’m so sorry.
Thank you for creating space of sensuality,
Of audacious, passionate, intimate emotions.
Thank you for always alerting me when we weren’t safe.
I pray I see you in your full beauty each and every day,
But let me say this even when I can’t see it—
You are so freaking beautiful."