This has been a rough year. I don’t know if there is another way to summarize our collective reality. As people living within the United States, we are often sheltered from the reality of how little we actually can control in life. We are now forced to question the reality that we once knew.
My intent is not to be really intense right now. At the same time, we are living in a very intense season and everyone has been talking about the struggle to cope. This struggle is universally felt as we move through the 2020 holiday season.
So what do we do? First, I believe that we start with accepting our reality. We are at war. The war that we have, in this nation, of being against one another is an illusion. The true war that we face is a fight for our sanity and to maintain our humanity. We’re in a mess.
Once we have accepted our reality for what it is, the next trap, that blocks our growth, is usually judgment. It is very easy to see a problem and start attributing blame to someone or something. We could do that, but it will not solve anything. There is another move we can take. We can take responsibility.
I cannot fix the issues that our country is facing. No one person has the ability to do that. But what I can do is find appropriate moves towards accepting responsibility for what I can control and hopefully finding some grace for us all.
To make the shift in finding appropriate levels of responsibility, I imagine that I am living 1,000 years ago, and my community is being attacked by invaders. When our community is under attack, we should not gear most of our resources and efforts in developing prettier pottery or planting more fields of flowers. Priorities should shift in seasons of war. We make pottery for it’s utilitarian functions and plant in our fields what is necessary for survival.
Humans have not changed much in 1,000 years. We still need to adjust our methods of self-care to reflect what’s happening in the here-and-now. My self-care has shifted from having get-togethers with friends and attending zumba to communicating new limitations, giving myself space to grieve my losses, and creating new playlists to help me remain focused on my goals. My hope for you is that you give yourself permission to adjust your self-care strategies.
In addition to adjusting our self-care strategies for survival, we have to find ways to guard the precious simple pleasures of life that remind us why we fight. Simple pleasures include hearing a baby laugh, seeing a flower in an unexpected spot, watching a sunrise, or helping a turtle cross the road. These are simple things that are worth fighting for and worth enjoying.
Be adaptive. Adjust your self-care strategies, and don’t forget to stop and enjoy simpler pleasures. We can do this. We have done it before, and we can do it again. Best wishes to you all.
We feel the need to make a public statement about the issues that we face as a community from a trauma-informed, mental health prospective. Over the past few weeks, we have had conversations from leaders in the mental health community and feel the need to echo some of their words and profess them as values and goals that are working towards.
Words from Martha Kauppi, Licensed Marriage and Family therapist and AASECT-certified sex therapist:
Therapy is not a neutral act. We deal with the effects of prejudice, violence, abuse, and marginalization. On top of the very dramatic trauma protesters are experiencing in the streets and by the videos of violence to Black bodies circulating ceaselessly, we know that living in a racist society as a person of color is a form of trauma. Part of the business of helping heal trauma is preventing trauma in the first place, and that requires that we all take a good look at systemic trauma and the part we play in perpetuating it.
At Mended Wing, we acknowledge that we are wounded healers and desire to work towards being better to help you heal. We adhere to the words from Michael Barnett, Director of the Atlanta Center for EFT and Certified EFT Supervisor and Trainer:
Change comes from within and that means I, and we, have the hard work ahead of us in taking a brutally honest look at ourselves, making repair, shifting gears, and finding whatever it is that genuinely changes us from the inside out. I want you to know that the unheard voices from years past are being heard. I want you to know that I’m listening. I want you to know that I will do my best to stand with you.
To practically address the goal of being better, we are offering refresher training for our therapists on considerations for working with marginalized populations, providing opening dialogue about how institutional racism impacts our clients and our work, as well as providing updated resources on our website by August 2020. Our desire is to be agents of healing and change in our community.
Throughout my life, it has been interesting to explore my growth as a person. I recently saw a picture of some Tulane medical students taken in front of a former slave plantation with the quote “We are our ancestors wildest dreams.”
Something about it spoke to me in a very visceral way. What did my ancestors hope for? What were the things that they were too scared to believe in? As a human, I can’t help but think about where we have been, and what we hope to pass on to the next generation.
It’s hard to think about the future without acknowledging the past and the present. What have I learned from others? Can I acknowledge and honor the lessons from my past, even if I didn’t like how the lessons were packaged? What values do I want to keep? How can I integrate these lessons and make them my own?
The older I get the more I realize that these answers change over time, and I am ok with that. We should strive to be intentional about implementing the lessons learned from those who came before us as well as the values we hope to impart long after we are gone.
Below is the original article that I read. May it inspire you to have some sense of agency in your life. Be intentional. I hope to do the same.
There is so much to say. As I reflect on hearing people discuss their hardships and successes with 2019, I am also aware that there has been a lot of reflection on the past ten years. There have been ups and downs, which as we know are part of life. I also realize that a lot has happened in our community and our nation as we take this time to reflect and, for some, find things to celebrate.
The thing that I guess is really important for me to say is that we are all having so many big experiences. Some of these experiences are so grand and lovely while others are full of conflicting emotions or feelings of being overwhelmed. Whatever you are experiencing… whatever you celebrate or don’t celebrate. It’s okay.
There is too much pressure this time of the year to feel or experience “this” thing or “that” thing. It’s okay to have a different experience. Please also be mindful of your neighbors in life. If possible, could you allow someone else’s experience to be “okay” even if it is different from yours? I’m not sure that we are always able to allow this kind of acceptance. But I think that working on it would be an amazing gift that we could all give each other.
I hope that you all find peace and safety during this holiday season.