Tag Archives: therapy

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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**The Road To 27** Post 4 of 7 – Family

Family —

….can’t live with em, can’t live without ’em!

I hear this statement used so often — but it’s really SO true to life!

I’d have to say that my family is an integral part in how I was able to turn out so good thus far (no glory, just truth). If I didn’t have the support of so many family members over the years, I’d probably be in a psych ward locked up in chains somewhere. Serious stuff!

Even though there are probably millions of cousins and distant relatives I have no clue exist, I can still feel their love.

Though I may be awkward at expressing it sometimes, and don’t call for long talks about everything, what I want my family to know is that I don’t love them any less. Growing up, I always depended on my parents to drive me to family gatherings and take me to visit relatives. I also depended on my parents to do all the calling and deciding on whether they were going to “let me speak during the phone call for a few hot seconds” — so as I grew older, I never developed that “call” bug. I am the only one on BOTH sides of my family who grew up in Wilson — so I never had cousins to really play with like the rest of my family. AND on top of that, I didn’t have any brothers or sisters younger than me (my sister is much older than me) so I didn’t have anyone my age in my family that I could really exercise those habits with.

DAY 4

Now that I’m older, I tend to shy away from phone calls and revel in face-to-face interaction. The problem with that now is that we all live so far away and our schedules collide! I literally have like 5 days off for vacation, and I have to pick and choose who to visit. It’s not ideal, but I’m figuring things out!

With me being a single, black woman, I’m very aware of the dangers that could present themselves while traveling alone; so that’s another thing that I have been figuring out. But nevertheless….I feel the warmth and love from my family and I want them to know that I love them and am inspired by EACH of their stories every day! Whether good or bad — I learn something from it.

I first realized how much of a treasure family is when my first few grandparents passed away. It hit me, that all of the time I was waiting on my parents to take me to see them or call them — I passed up on precious memories that we could’ve been creating. Now that I’m on the brink of experiencing year 27, I am going to continue to focus on nurturing my relationships with my sister and her family, my grandma, aunts and uncles, cousins, and godfamily too! Near and far, I’m striving daily to be a better ** insert the ____________**

#NawlinsJoc

Photo shot and edited by Rich Griffis (www.richgriffis.com)

[photo by Rich Griffis ]

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Filed under Dear Diary, It's Me Joc