This pass Sunday I reminisced with my email community about a journaling experience that left me and my newborn baby stranded at the hospital. The ordeal was dramatic and rather traumatic. It left me feeling very uncomfortable with journaling ever again. Although I continued to journal, most of the emotions I wrote were filtered and shallow. My intentional journaling turned into a “dear diary” sort of experience. After a while I did stop journaling because I wasn’t getting anything out of it. It felt pointless.
I even went into a bible that my dad gave me for Christmas many years ago and took out the letters I had hand written to God Himself. I hid those letters in there thinking that:
I ended up taking the letters out and throwing them away. I really couldn’t afford to take anymore chances with my deepest thoughts becoming ammunition for someone to use against me in my life again. Even when I would sporadically journal to process some major life events, it was so washed down it didn’t help at all. Deep down, it just made me angry that I was forced to filter my emotions.
Growing up, I was taught to be strong. Crying, whining, or hurting were weak emotions for weak people. I think all it really made me do was feel like my emotions didn’t matter. My cries for help didn’t matter and my pain was irrelevant. Journaling was my way of making my emotions matter until my journal betrayed me. Then even that wasn’t safe.
I often hide my emotions seeming cold and heartless to some. I’m really not that way. I do guard my emotions. I know that some people take advantage of them. However, two days before Christmas I found myself having to face my true emotions and it brought me to tears doing 60 mph down route 15 on a rainy winter’s evening.
Initially I felt anger. I was so angry at my son that I was sure I was going to yell and fuss and curse until I lost my voice. However, I sat down fuming and trying to figure out how I was going to fix his fuck up. As I thought about what he’d done, I realized I wasn’t angry. I was actually hurt. I was hurt that he hadn’t called and talked to me about what was going on. I was aching that we had become so disconnected since he left for college. It surfaced feelings about never feeling like I was a good mother to him and how I probably don’t deserve a connection to him. It was manifesting as anger on the outside, but on the inside is where the truth was.
So, when he came home for the holidays, sure that I’d be livid with his actions, I simply told him the truth. The truth brought tears to my eyes, but a freeing feeling to my heart. We talked about what I’d said, and it’s opened the doors to better communication for us. Without that honesty, I’d be mad, he’d be sorry, and we’d be not closer to mending the real issue in our disconnect.
Journaling requires the same honesty. I talked to my guest Patrice Garrison about journaling in a podcast episode and we touched on the important components to journaling. The components that make journaling successful on your journey.
No journaling experience, or any experience, can be successful without honesty. It’s important to stop lying to ourselves. It makes the process of growth possible.
Have you checked out the podcast episode on journaling and vision boards yet? Click Here to listen!
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In episode three of the Our Royal Community Podcast, I interviewed Brian Sheppard of Cinderella Strong. He is a fitness trainer focused on empowering women to be the best version of themselves mentally, emotionally, and spiritually as well as physically.
So you know I gave him the side eye.
I worked in fitness for too long and I’ve seen way too much misogyny in the industry to fall for this. However, I was a little curious. How genuine could this guy really be? I followed his social media for a few months and watched a few of his YouTube videos. I determined that his message seemed genuine but before I’d interview him for the podcast I needed to talk to him first.
I really could hear the passion for his message in his story, his voice, and his brand. I became really excited about doing the interview!
But can a man really empower women? I can’t say for sure, but I believe it’s important for men to empower women. I think it’s important for women to empower men. I think everyone should be doing their part to empower men and women. And if you are a woman planning to marry a man and build a family as well as a legacy, then it’s crucial that your man know how to empower you.
Empowerment is defined as the power given to someone to do something. Initially when I read that I stopped liking the idea of a man empowering me. Once I read it again, I had to take note that it doesn’t say permission given. It is power given. I probably should be with a man that incites the power within me to build the vision that we have for ourselves. He certainly shouldn’t do it alone, especially not with a capable woman by his side.
Empowerment takes less words and more actions. In the interview, even Brian talks about what he does for his clients, totally outside of fitness, that empowers them to raise the standard on everything else in their lives. Beyond his words, there are actions that convey the passion and the message that truly empowers women.
In situations involving domestic violence, the total opposite happens on purpose. The man is so weak that he needs the women to be weaker. Empowering her will give her the tools she needs to do better. She’ll start doing better personally and professionally. She’ll realize how broken he is and resent the fact that instead of healing himself, he just decided to break her too. He can’t have that, so he berates, belittles, and abuses her. He won’t empower her and nobody else better do it either.
Not all situations where a man doesn’t empower a women is out of malice. There are circumstances when a man just doesn’t know how. After a very long break up with my late boyfriend we started communicating again. One of the things he said to me during that reconciliation was “I’m sorry I didn’t love you properly.” There was a period of time when I didn’t believe he loved me at all, even after his death. However, I did come to realize that he really just didn’t know how. He loved me the best way he knew how. He didn’t know how to build, and he didn’t know how to empower. He knew how to be an amazing companion with a genuine heart. But he was in no position to grow or to help me grow. There was never going to be any power in our collective union, and it’s the #1 reason I spent so much time refusing to marry him.
When a man came empower a women it is the blueprint for building. He is not her strength. She doesn’t need his strength because she has her own. But together, they are both powerful and an unstoppable force. It’s a merger. Even companies merge with each other to create a powerhouse for growth. A buyout and a merger are two very different transactions and serve two different purposes.
After thinking about someone giving me the power to do something, I realized just how important this empowerment movement is. It gives disenfranchised groups the power to do something. That something is going to be different and unique from person to person, but the end result is a movement that would be unstoppable. Women that have been discriminated against, counted out, or just plain abused will have the power to do something. Everyone should have a part in that movement…
My late boyfriend’s mother called me one morning. I didn’t answer. I called her back about 45 minutes later on my way back home. She asked where I was and I told her I was just leaving my grief counseling session. She became so worried about me. She assured me that everything would be alright and I was going to make it through. She told me she would continue to pray for me and to just keep holding on.
I will admit that her generation probably felt the biggest brunt of that stigma with mental health, especially in the black community. I do believe that one of the reasons we embrace it more now is because it feels more relatable. Our mothers, fathers, siblings, and a bunch of friends and other family members are mental health practitioners now. It’s not just some random person listening to all your business. The therapists we get to see, ranging from grief counseling to substance abuse counseling, are people we can relate to.
However, there is still a stigma with it, and it’s a shame. It’s a shame because for some of us, the mental health journey started long before our adult-life stressors and our self-care regimens. Mine certainly did. A few months ago, I talked to my email community about the time I was admitted into the psychiatric ward of the hospital, but that was well into my 20’s. Let’s talk a little about where it all began.
I wrote a letter to my favorite magazine when I was in elementary school. The Highlights’ magazines had an advice column and I was in desperate need of some advice. I told them about my mother calling me stupid, dumb, and a few other colorfully derogatory names. I told them how it made me feel and that I didn’t know what to do. It took a few weeks but they wrote me back. The advice was theoretically sound but useless in my set of circumstances. Talking to my mother about my feelings was out of the question. I couldn’t imagine that she’d care. I imagined if she did care she probably wouldn’t have said those things in the first place. I decided that although the letter was garbage, I needed to be very careful about how I disposed of it. If anyone found the letter the backlash could be just as hurtful. Unfortunately, I found out the hard way that I was right.
I hated sleeping over at my aunt’s house. She would spend the entire weekend berating and belittling me. I never talked back or raised my voice. Most of the time I just wondered why I was there. If she hated me so much and I was so inferior, why have me over? The actions were wrong, but the intent behind them felt evil. It felt like…abuse.
After I swallowed a handful of pills from the bathroom medicine cabinet, an instant regret set in. I became terrified. I was terrified that I might die and all at the same time I was terrified that I might keep living. I burst into tears. I left the bathroom crying hysterically over this conundrum I’d just put myself in. In between labored gasps I was able to say what I’d just done to which the response was, “What you telling me for?”
After a few months of seeing a therapist to address my suicidal thoughts, my therapist had to move to Ohio. Her husband accepted a new job and she was leaving me with some referrals. I was hopeful that the next therapist would be as nice and helpful as she was. She gave the list to my dad at my last appointment. After pulling out of the parking lot my dad turned to me and said, “You’re fine now, right?”
Just a few months into my freshman year of high school I found myself lying to a very good friend of mine. In my mind I felt like I was doing the right thing. If I told her that the last time I slept over at her house her father molested me how would that change her life? Would she see him differently? Would she see me differently? Would it break up her family? By this point I had determined I was at fault anyway so why ruin anyone else’s life when it can all just go away? The disconnect created distance and…
…it just went away.
I feel like I never got to be a child, at least not the child I wanted to be. I often wonder what kind of child I would have been. What would I have done differently growing up? How different would my path be? What kind of person would I be now? Sometimes I get angry thinking about how normal my life could have been if my mental health had been more of a priority back then.
Although it may seem that the mental health journey starts with seeking help, it starts with those first words or encouragement, or otherwise. It starts with that loving hug, or otherwise.
When we neglect our physical health we find ourselves in the doctor’s office looking for a cure for our ailments. We take precautionary steps to keep ourselves healthy, but when there is an issue, we seek help. The same strategy should be used when it comes to our mental health. We should practice sound and effective self-care strategies regularly. When an issue arises, we seek help. What happens to quite a few is we still ignore issues. We ignore the hurt and illnesses that are associated with mental health and wonder why we aren’t getting better. We wonder why life feels so hard. We wonder why we are stuck.
Just like your physical health, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Self-care is essential. Detoxifying your life and space is important. Your mental health often dictates how you live. And please believe that poor maintenance of your mental health, can contribute to the reason you die.
Click here to check out this past Sunday’s podcast episode on Mental Health.
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After spending a year in grief counseling, I started to see that my life needed a major overhaul. Yes, my boyfriend died making me the single mom of our infant twins, but I was still grieving my loss of innocence from decades of abuse. I decided to turn my pain into a new purpose and to share this journey with others that may need some motivation.