Tag Archives: Spirit

Dealing with Trauma in amerikka

I took a much needed break from organizing for a few days. The excuse was that I was moving, and while that was actually the case, the truth is that the police violence has had a much greater toll on me than I would have liked to admit. 
I didn’t realize how wound up I was until I was walking down the street to the store and discovered that I could neither keep my eyes nor my head still as I scanned every car and every face for an impending threat. I was doing this subconsciously. When I finally realized I was suffering from trauma was when two little Chiwawa sized dogs barked at me and I damn near jumped out of my skin. Heart racing, palms sweating, head throbbing, and ready to fight whatever was coming.
I have this emotional valve that allows me to shut down my emotions in moments of crises to focus on the tasks at hand. It can be a doubled-edged sword at times because sometimes when people are looking for an emotional response I may be pragmatic and practical, even logical and seemingly heartless when confronting and addressing an issue. Nonetheless, there always comes a point after the threat has subsided that when it is safe my emotions surface. When the ancle-biters had me fearing for my life was that moment.
Being a Black man in amerikkka, even with the light-skinned privilege I have, is a constantly traumatic experience. In addition to that because I fight for the justice and respect our Peoples deserve, I am often a very visible ‘target’ of those who would suppress and repress. The police attack on innocent, peaceably assembled political dissenters in Phoenix, Arizona on August 22, 2017 was not the first time I have been in a situation of violent state repression. Standing Rock was not an isolated event. These are well-honed strategies of the repressive regime under which we struggle to assert our right to exist. The tear gas, rubber bullets, and flash bombs are not far removed from the fire hoses and attack dogs that Bull Conner unleashed on people in Birmingham in 1963. The state unleashed fire hoses on the people at Standing Rock in below freezing temperatures the night before I arrived, less than a year ago; ain’t nothing changed.
With the emergence of the alt-right and a resurgence of the kkk, it is not only the police we have to worry about–who we can easily identify–but also general citizen looking people who believe they have been sent on a holy mission to exterminate us. So, it makes sense that I am scanning every car and face to analyze who and where a threat may emerge at any given time. It is people like this, in collusion with the state, who have banished, stolen, incarcerated, or killed many of our people who have been outspoken against the oppression we suffer. However, although it makes sense, it does not dismiss the fact that living like this, in constant fear, is traumatic and it takes it’s toll. 
There is nothing that can justify terrorism like this!
My normal response is to exist in a constant state of rage. I am often told that this is unhealthy. I agree. What happened was that as a result of my constant state of tightened awareness and protection, that I put up walls to shield from those I loved most. I could not separate the defensiveness required to survive the state and the fascist from being part of my family. Unknown to me, this trait was generalized to everyone and I reacted to everyone as if they were out to harm or kill me. They weren’t. However, the psychological trauma I was suffering would not make that distinction for me; in survival mode it was occurring subconsciously.
After an emotionally draining fight with my partner and the Chiwawa fiasco I knew a moment of deep reflection wad needed. It was during this time that I got clarity about what was going on inside of me and why. Then, I communes with my ancestors on multiple occasions asking for guidance and to be led. While I sorted through my possessions getting rid of what was no longer needed or necessary, as I scrubbed the gunk from my old apartment, as I hauled all the things from my old residence to the new, and as I have constructed my new place of peace; the same has been happening within my soul.
The struggle we are in is not only physical, but also, and perhaps more so, spiritual. The physical stress takes a toll on my spiritual integrity. Not that I didn’t know, but this experience reaffirms the vitally necessity of continued spiritual health and well-being especially, while I am in a constant struggle against injustice and those who seek to eradicate our people.
Not everyone is my enemy. Those who are not my enemy should not be treated as such. To do so is vastly inconsistent with the world we are working to create. When I recognize that I am undoing the work I have been doing it is my responsibility to pull back and to get regrounded. To be certain, I am still dealing with the trauma of being Black in amerikkka and the response to my being vocal and active against our oppression. There is much work to be done to overcome the harm that has been done to me. However, the last thing I want to do is to revisit the harms laid upon me upon others. Thus, breaking the cycle of oppression is necessary.  This can only be achieved on a spiritual plain and with those who love us. 
Bad energy can become trapped within us and become stagnant and festering, like water that has been choked from flowing. Hatred, fear, and anger are emotions that we all must feel in amerikkka at times, but they are not things that we must hold onto. When we do it shuts us out from the sunlight of the spirit and blocks us from the love those around us have to share. 
I did not want to acknowledge that I was terrified, and so, I held onto it. I had a rage inside of me that I thought would protect me and all it did was lead me to hurt those whom I care the most about. I had to feel those emotions and let them go so that I could have room for the love that truly fuels my actions and nourishes my soul.

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Growing Pains

You remember those pains we used to get in our legs and arms as our bodies were growing when we were little? I do. Sometimes they were so bad I could not sleep. I would toss and turn all night long and never find peace. No matter which way I turned it only seemed to make the pain worse. It felt like it would never go away.
 
I get migraines. I have for years. They started after I survived a fatal car accident when both my breathing and heart stopped for several minutes. I had to have brain surgery and was in a coma for several weeks. When I came out of it not remembering anything at all, like I mean complete amnesia, the worst thing physically I suffered was chronic migraines. After the many years of dealing with these I have noticed one of the strangest phenomenon; I never noticed when the pain stopped hurting. I would just be going about my life and then it would come to mind that my mind was no longer hurting.
 
That is also how I remember what it was like after the growing pains went away. But something else I also noticed about the growing pains was that when I would get measured I would recognize that I had also matured.
 
Lately I have been going through a new kind of growing pains, and it is uncomfortable, and it feels like it will never be over. However, instead of it being something I am familiar and altogether comfortable with, this time I am feeling the stress of spiritual growth. Yet, even with all of my experience and knowledge that at some point these pains will pass, and that when they have that I will have matured into a more developed human being. Right now it hurts. The worst part about these spiritual growing pains is that the spiritual is not something that lives in isolation, like the pains in my legs. No, the spiritual blunders that are causing my pain, that is the growth is also affecting the people I care the most about. In fact, without them I doubt that I would even notice the pains at all.
 
However, there are two things that I have learned. First, there is nothing that I can do to change the fact that I am currently going through a growth spurt. Second, Unlike the physical pains that were personal and only affected me, and no one else could help or intercede; my spiritual growing pains are nothing of the sort. So, as I trudge through and into this new chapter of my life I am relying on those I love and those who love me.
 
Perhaps that is precisely the lesson that my spirit wants me to learn. We are spiritual and social beings and we do nothing alone. As a matter of clarity, trying to continuously do things alone when it is obvious that I cannot is a harmful symptom of toxic masculinity. It only serves to shut me off from the sunlight of the spirit, which for me shines brightest in the people around me.