Tag Archives: Psychology

I Could Have Been Her. [Trauma While Black]

Every day on my way to work I come to a familiar (and awkward) intersection; finding myself face to face with the woman of “what could have been”.

Let me explain.

I work in a small town and often see faces of people from yearbooks past and find out what most I graduated with don’t – what happened to __________?! Back in college, one of my high school acquaintances and I became closer and began hanging out with each other more. This meant meeting each other’s families and knowing parents and cousins on a first name basis. I distinctly remember one special cousin in particular who would come up to the college to hang out in our rooms some weekends. Cousin and my friend were more like sisters really! She was still in high school (about 3 years younger than us) and I remember her being so entranced by the college life. She was tall, skinny and was a really pretty girl overall. She would LOVE getting into some of everything, asking a million questions and sticking her nose into everyone’s business. To her college was another world.

Well, as college progressed, my friend and I eventually went our separate ways and adventured into young adult life. This also meant we didn’t see each other’s families like we once did – including Cousin.

Fast forward 11 or 12 years, and notice a strange woman aimlessly wandering up and down the street not far from where I work. It’s common to see kids skipping school or people saving gas by walking, but I quickly noticed that this woman was different. Not wanting to be rude, I’d try to sneak a glance at her face, but it seemed every time I passed her on the way to work she’d be walking IN my direction, so I’d have to turn all the way around to see her face. One day, I decided to just throw caution to the wind and look around. What I saw broke my heart.

It was Cousin.

She had transformed into someone virtually unrecognizable. Her hair had been shaved. She’d picked up at least a good extra 80 pounds and she had the distinctive stare of someone who had suffered mental trauma. Growing up in and out of hospitals and meeting countless of my mother’s special education students, I have developed a knack for recognizing when something is “not all there” with someone. Cousin had that stare. Since then, I’ve studied her as I drive to work. I’ve even waved a time or two to no avail. Her blank stare and babbling otherworldly chatter leads me to speculate – what happened? What happened to transform this giddy, lively girl into a woman who may not even know where she is most times?

Did she have an accident where she sustained a brain injury that left her incapacitated? Did she have a surgery that went wrong? Did she experience a traumatic experience that triggered the onset of mental illness? Is she under a spiritual attack?!

Looking at her each week puts me into a reflective state of “she could have been me”. She could have been any one of us really. Think about your own life for a few minutes.

Have you experienced a heartbreak or trauma that could have made you “lose your mind”?

Were you ever involved in an accident or event where you could have suffered a brain injury?

Have you ever felt the weight of your problems plunge you in a spiritual darkness, constantly hovering over you?

The truth is YOU and I escaped those things. Cousin, unfortunately, didn’t.

Take time today to really check on your friends, families, and classmates. Offer them an encouraging word if you notice on social media (or in passing) that they are struggling with something. Encourage them to seek professional and spiritual help. Let them know that there is NOTHING wrong with investing in a therapist and spiritual counselor. There is still mass stigma in the black community regarding seeking professional help for trauma.  It’s one thing to not be able to afford it, it’s another to simply dismiss the benefit of it.

As long as I see Cousin, I will continue to thank God that while I could have been her, I am not her! I will continue praying for her…her family…that they get the answers and help they seek. I don’t truly know what had happened to her, but I pray whatever it is, she stays safe, that she doesn’t hurt anyone else and that we all count our blessings!

— Joc

 

ps. Here are some helpful recources for you if you want more information specifically catered for African Americans!

  1. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists/african-american

  2. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/culturally-speaking/201111/why-african-americans-avoid-psychotherapy

  3. https://www.therapyforblackgirls.com/

  4. http://bridgehavencounseling.org/counseling/profile-of-omar-king/

 

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When Fear Meets Faith

I know the title has you all ready and amped for a SLEW of inspiration right? Well that is exac…..sort of what you’ll get.

I believe (from experience) that it’s best to keep some things to yourself. Just for you and no one else. There are other things that I believe you WANT to keep to yourself, but feel compelled to share because it could help someone else. This is one of those things.

 

adultingThe past three years have been my “growing pain BETA” years. Prior to 2015 I was a SUPER optimistic, try anything, risk taking, blind faith having, blissfully faithful woman excited for the future and all that it had to offer her. Today I am still all of those things, but that woman is learning to move forward after have been lied to by fear.

Yep. Fear. One of the most filthy, underhanded tricks the devil uses to keep us stuck. Journeying from high school to college, I’d learned how to be fearless and in 2015 (though life wasn’t perfect) I was on the edge of a MAJOR period of self-discovery and purpose. Then it happened. Fear came gallivanting with its ole ugly self right into my life.

If you’ve read my post What’s the Cost of Carrying Your Dreams? then you know just how loudly it arrived.

So now, going on three years later, how am I doing?

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I’m here.chrissy-teigens-cry-face-was-the-greatest-thing-t-2-12890-1421106645-0_dblbig

I have honestly never fathomed that I’d EVER be as affected by stress, fear, or anxiety as I have been these past few years. Shoot, anxiety was never in my vocabulary! I’d seen others struggle with it but could never really understand what they were afraid of or HOW they could be afraid of something simple as saying hello, going to parties, or road tripping alone. As I type this, still fighting to keep the residue of fear from my life, I can say that I finally understand. I understand how one bad experience can REALLY change your life. I understand the embarrassment of excusing yourself out of plans to places you want to go with people you really want to be around because you’re afraid something is going to go wrong. I know the disappointment that comes along with knowing you’re overreacting/overthinking on paper, but struggle to convince your mind to get with the program. I know the tight, uncomfortable feeling that bubbles up when you begin to analyze a situation too much. I know what it’s like to desperately reach out to God, KNOWING He’s just a prayer away, only to get distracted by the darkness of dread blocking your view. I know what it’s like to feel “stuck” and aimless because you want the past to leave you alone but it keeps driving past your house.

I never wanted to know, but I know.

Before fear crossed my path, I was open to go anywhere with virtually any one and enjoyed every ounce of life – even the bad parts – because I knew it was going to get better. My hope was in God and because I had my sight straight on Him, all of the chaos that was my life never fazed me. At all. Resilience was (and still is) my spirit animal. (cue the track ….can’t nobody hoooooold meeeeeee doooown oh no, I got to keep on moooovinnnnnn’.) But after 2015, I struggled ya’ll. And when I really think about it, the part that makes me so angry is not necessarily that I allowed myself to get so worn down that fear had an entry point into my life, it’s that I allowed it to change aspects of who I am. I’m a godmother, but I haven’t been to visit my goddaughter in over a year. I am an adventure seeker, but lately my adventures have been confined to a 200 mile radius. I was a single, feisty, bubbly optimist looking to get back on the dating scene and make new memories with a great guy, but part of why I haven’t been dating recently is because most of my time is spent trying to get back the spunk I once had before; so WHOEVER I date and eventually marry will know the “true me” – not the anxious, small town, humdrum, unadventurous me.

Talk about MISERY! There are few things worse than a creative soul who feels they are stifled from the world and experiences that inspire them so much. BUT this brings me to today. I am here.

giphyI am disgustingly grateful for the relationship I have with Jesus Christ. As a child of God, I can keep on making daily strides because I know that God sees me and has put enough stubborn strength inside of me to make it through anything! At the end of the day, this experience has taught me to:

 

#1 Rely TOTALLY on God because regardless of how we have our life mapped out, if it doesn’t line up with what He desires, it’s ain’t happ’nin cap’n.

#2 Recognize the spiritual nature of ANY difficult time and know that with the proper understanding of how POWERFUL God is compared to anything being thrown at you, you’ll survive!

#3 Not allow myself to get so worn out that I leave myself spiritually and physically vulnerable to sickness, mental attacks, and burnout.

#4 Continue seeking PROFESSIONAL help! I have NEVER been one to oppose therapist. If I could (and had the money) I would become one myself to help someone else! God gives us spiritual weapons, but He also has given us physical ones too. I will continue to seek help to better myself and be better than before.

#5 Take time to breathe if I need to and don’t feel apologetic. There is only one of me, so when progress isn’t going as quickly as I want or expect it to, I need to just take some time to get some fresh air, not answer non-urgent calls, or take a day to do whatever I feel like doing and not feel bad about it.

#6 Keep going when you have a setback. In the journey to overcome your past you may have a set back from time to time. Shoot, you may go months or years feeling better, then find yourself blindsided by the past creeping up again. I have learned to catch my breath, get my bearings, then keep on moving forward regardless of HOW uncomfortable I feel.

#7 Find comfort in knowing I WILL GET THROUGH THIS! Regardless of how stressed I am or how many times fear tries sneak up behind me, this won’t last always. I know that I am getting better each day and that I am still the same Jocelyn, just different. God will allow me to use EVERYTHING I’ve experienced to help someone else who is just coming face to face with the same thing. I am convinced that considering how MAJOR the devil has been attacking me, I am due for a MAJOR blessing and testimony and purpose.

giphy (1)

So to those who know the LORD and have a relationship with Him through Jesus Christ – keep me in your prayers. To my friends who have kept me encouraged and challenged me to step back out into the unknown, I thank you and am forever grateful for your friendship. Most of all, I am thankful to have supportive parents who have not thrown me aside to fend for myself just because I’m grown. I am still their kid and I know that regardless of what ANYONE says, I will NOT be made to feel ashamed for the blessing of their friendship when I know that most can only WISH for parents like them. Ya’ll keep me lifted in love.

Blessings,

Joc

 

 

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At This Point In My Life, I Don’t Have Time To Play….

Today I came across a tweetgram that my good friend and author Peaches Dean posted on her page.

peach

When I read this, the wheels in my brain started to turn. I began to ask myself questions like…

“Can you identify with this?” “Who in your life has essentially taken up valuable time?”

“Have YOU beaten around the bush with a friend, in a relationship, or with a colleague?”

When the questions finally stopped rolling I had some time to absorb and drum up a few answers.

I can totally identify with Peaches’ sentiments and because I know her personally, I know that she is speaking straight from the core. The core group of people I run with all have goals…not just dreams to fantasize about day in and day out. We make them goals to set and to be obtained. Even if we have to take baby steps – at the end of the day, we know we’ll get where we need to be. Not trying to be a dream killer, but I have come across quite a few people who have dreams, but stop right there…at the dream stage. They convince themselves ‘they’ll get to it one day’ or ‘where they live makes it impossible to take any steps forward’ or ‘they want to grab their dreams, yet they’re not sure if they want to sacrifice their free time to get that hustle in’. So I am with Peaches 100% in feeling that I have a purpose to fulfill; so if you are my friend, romantic interest, business partner – realize that I will do what’s necessary to fulfill my purpose. If you are going to cause detours – you should exit stage left.

If you don’t really like who I am, don’t stick around trying to be nice or keep me around because you might need something later on – just keep it 100% truthful and go about your business. I will HONESTLY understand if we’re just not on the same wavelength; I respect everyone’s right to be different. But if you waste my time, I cannot respect you.

wasting

Because I am so driven (in my professional, spiritual, and romantic life) I have no time to entertain idleness. That’s it. I said it. It still sounds harsh saying (well writing really haha) out loud, but it’s the truth. Back in college I had all the time in the world to learn about people, make my mistakes, and amass a large group of ‘friends’ – hey, you go to college to learn and diversify right!? But once I graduated, I found that I have to be intentional about who I let get close to me. If I know you for a few hours…that does not automatically make you my sis or bro unless we have an instant connection of some sort. Otherwise I need to get to learn you – as you should want to learn me; because if you are a person who has an unclean motive – please don’t be a distraction. Just walk the other way and we’ll leave it at “we’ll do lunch”.

wasting1

Now I’m not going to go on a rant giving the impression that the street does not go two ways. There have been times where I have to admit I have not been totally up front with someone. I wanted to be nice and not step on anyone’s toes, so I’ve been guilty in the past of continuing business and personal relationships though my heart was not 100% in it. I may have strongly disagreed with that person’s morals. Or knew that the guy I was into had some drama and mess with him – basically sticking around giving the other person a false sense of our relationship’s dynamic.

So right now, if anyone who feels I’ve led them on in the past, I honestly from the bottom of my heart apologize and ask for your forgiveness.

These days I try to be as up front and honest with people as possible; even if I have to be the bearer of bad news. I know that when it’s all over, they’ll respect me more for being up front and honest. There have been people who have crossed my path THIS YEAR that I’ve had to give some hard truths to and we’re cool to this very day.

Now that I’m nearing the end of this commentary, I just want to wrap things up by highlighting the main points of this post:

  1. I am at a point in my life where I desire to connect with genuine people. If you want to be my friend for no other reason than to score connections – walk the other way. If you’re a guy who wants to date me to get the skirt, get over your ex, have a photog/writer gf, or for any other shallow reason – quickly exit.
  2. wastingtime1Since I have experienced dealing with people who aren’t genuine, I make sure that I’m as up front with people as possible – even if what I have to say stings.
  3. There aren’t too many things you can be selfish about these days, but one thing I am selfish about is my future. I refuse to have my future derailed, stymied, or knocked off course by any one for any reason. I trip on my on feet, that’s another story; but as far as wasting time allowing someone else to demolish the path God’s set in front of me – NEGATIVE.
  1. I love Peaches for posting this. Peaches keeps it real every second of every day. I’m so glad that I met her (thanks Drea) and so glad she’s around to post truth like this.

Good day all,

– Joc

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Don’t Fall in Love With the POTENTIAL of Who They Can Be — LOVE SMART!

“Make sure you are not falling in love with the POTENTIAL of someone. We must know the difference between loving people for who they already are vs. loving the idea of what they COULD be. Make sure you are loving him for who he is today. His potential should be the icing…not the cake.”

– Jada Pinkett

____________________________________________

All I have to say is IF JADA DON’T SAY THAT THING!!!! Woooo you guys just don’t know how true this is!

Q: How do I know?

A: I’ve lived it. (more times than once)

There is a significant difference between falling for ‘the potential’ of someone and ‘who they are’. People can have potential ALL DAY LONG, but there is no guarantee that they’ll act and live up TO that potential. I’m not married, and don’t profess to be a relationship expert, but I’ve been through enough and have witnessed enough from friends, etc to know a little something.

Case in point:

About 2 years ago I dated a guy who was almost 10 years older than me (the largest age difference I’d ever experienced while dating). When I first met him, developing anything with him was the furthest thing from my mind. But over time, I’d see him around town or at mutual friends’ get-togethers until one day he invited me to a concert. By that time I’d had enough conversations to find out that even though he had decent conversation, liked the same music I did, had a nice sense of humor and was trying to do the ‘best’ he could in life. Surprisingly we had a great time on our ‘date’ and the friendship quickly turned into ‘relationship’. As more time passed the ‘newness’ took a turn for the not-so-great as I found out that 1 month (super fresh baby) before he met me, he had a little girl with a girl he ‘claimed’ was nothing but a one night stand (insert serious side eye).  I also found out that he worked in food delivery and was staying with family to save on rent. About 2 months prior to me meeting him, he’d been living with his grandparents.  I would ask questions to find out why he wasn’t further along in life and he said it was a combination of bad decisions and not knowing any better. He told me of all these dreams he had of being a bondsman and being an event promoter and so on and so forth. When I suggested that he be more realistic he basically called me a ‘dream killer’. ANYONE WHO KNOWS ME knows that I not only have dreams but goals and take the necessary steps to work towards those goals. I’ve also worked in Corporate America full-time since graduating college and I’ve been the owner of a budding photography company since I was 19 years old. I understand that people have dreams, but they’ll stay dreams if you never act on them. Every time I tried to help him network or suggest something he could do to go further in his career, he shot every helping hand down with EXCUSE AFTER EXCUSE!

I convinced myself to stay with this guy for like a year despite my spirit of discernment telling me that this was a HUGE waste of time and a HUGE mistake. Eventually,  I got the message and broke things off with him. My life was changed FOREVER by that relationship. I learned so much about myself and what I could work with and what I could NOT work with.

I was dating the guy for his POTENTIAL. He was a pretty decent guy. He had potential. But that’s ALL he had. Any guy I date from now on doesn’t have to be perfect (because who is), but he’s got to have his life basically together. He can have dreams, but he has to live each day with his eyes peeled, taking the necessary steps to grow in his faith and grow in his career. I’m doing it, so the guy I end up with will have to be doing the same.

Some people may say ‘that’s selfish’. Well they can stymie that because think about it: why should I settle to make someone else happy, when it’s not making me happy. If my boyfriend/husband feels blessed to have me, do I not have the right to be happy to be with him.

You’ve got to think people. Love smart.

– Joc

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