On the Subject of When You Need to Trash Your Mantra

What drives you to panic and despair? What keeps you grounded?

In a world that is increasingly polarized, hate rhetoric and intentional polarized positioning are often unconscious defaults. Compounded by internalized media messages and individual bias, it can be hard to keep a positive individual mantra. Does your subconscious mantra need to be trashed?

This week, as I have been meditating and practicing self-care, I found myself revisiting recent events that haven’t quite healed yet. My mind kept returning to them again and again, and I found myself at one point, leaning over, hugging my knees tightly to my chest as I felt this huge weight in my stomach.

I was carrying all of these things that kept reinforcing my own innate propensity of relying on old lies.

Somehow, I was still carrying the foster care Bonita with the you are all alone and nobody cares.

I was the little girl whom didn’t know why her mother left.

And, I realized that I needed to re-trash one of my unconscious mantras.

See, while I thought that relying on individual self-care and self-healing were critical pieces of my own self-care journey (and they are), I was acting like these characteristics were solely enough to buoy and support me. And, I had to investigate the underlying truth that a journey into racial strength and self-care and healing cannot be an individual journey. It requires community. And, community, like the self, can be hard, messy and hold that ever-fun possibility of pain potential.

This past weekend, when my friends reached out to me and listened after a rough conversation with a family member. I realized again that my community could hold and carry my imperfect truths and I could hold and carry theirs.

I wasn’t alone and I could say that to all the old parts of me and all the old hurt in me. 

My community cares and loves me.

 I speak those truths to the foster care Bonita and to the girl wondering why her mother left her. 

My community cares and loves me.

I speak these truths to the Boni who is hurt and disappointed in and by family members.

I speak those truths as I read the paper and as I commit to doing the work of racial reconciliation. 

I declare these truths when I am feeling frustrated and drained and unconnected.

I declare these truths with and to my community so that my community can remind me of these truths when I need a gentle reminder.

However, I also speak this truth as well: I am known and named and loved by the Creator.

I speak this truth and breathe.

I speak this truth and, when I find I have the space to in a stressful disagreement, I try to intentionally ask a clarifying question.

I speak this truth and I lean in.

I invite you to speak your own truth too.

What are your own truths that you use to reconnect and ground yourself?

When we speak truth over ourselves and to others, I think we intentionally center ourselves into the sacred space of healing. And, this reorientation fundamentally impacts our capacity to be effective positive change makers. 

Reorientation isn’t easy. And, speaking truth isn’t always easy. Sometimes we get stuck in a rut. Sometimes the lies can sound like truths. But, when we intentionally commit to learning and knowing what truth is, it becomes easier and easier to pick out the lie.

For me, the lie will always be abandonment. That nobody-loves-you-nobody-cares-about-you-you-are-all-alonetype shit.

While, I couldn’t declare that it was shit as a ten-year-old, or even as an 18-year-old, I can declare that as shit now. Because, I have learned to strengthen myself with the truth.

Part of this strengthening required that I had to investigate the ways in which I heal.  For me, I had to own that I was picking up so much grief and pain and trauma that instead of finding the capacity to heal, I was actually re-traumatizing myself and convincing myself that it counted as healing. 

I needed to be able to take a step back and acknowledge the good work that was already taking place as well as distance myself from the constant intake of trauma, which – for me – includes the constant exposure of violence and trauma to black and brown bodies. I had to own that the daily trauma I live didn’t and doesn’t need to be intensified with or by national violence. Instead, I needed to take a step back and heal. And then, re-strategize how to practice affirming, self-care and self-love practices while staying intentionally engaged with national events. 

What have you learned about how you hold trauma? What mantras might you need to trash?

I can’t wait to hear how you affirm and trash your own unconscious mantras.

Shalom always,

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