EDITORS NOTE: AUGUST
I have a lot of feelings.
But the two things I'm thinking of most as I kick off this August are personal time and PTSD from racism. And they are actually connected. Bare with me.
I was recently interviewed for a Japanese magazine called TRANSIT, and they focused the interview on how NYC has shaped my lifestyle and career. I spoke to them about how I used to see NYC as an abusive relationship. How I had a love hate connection with it. Specifically in my 20s, when I not only felt obligated to keep up with everyone else but also felt like I was 'losing' at life when I wasn't 'winning' like the rest of my friends. And Instagram was not even a thing when I was 24. A true blessing.
It was exhausting.
Now that I am in my 30s, it is still exhausting— BUT, I no longer compare myself to friends, and I am being more protective of me. A few days after that interview, I was speaking with my two girlfriends about this same thing. And one of them said that recently, while at home hanging on her couch, she felt she was 'wasting time' because she was relaxing. And I knew exactly what she meant.
Whenever we take time off for a vacation (which usually feels rushed) or are simply at home watching a show and painting our nails — there is a sense of guilt that sinks in. That gnaws at us and quietly whispers that we might be: missing out on an event, not using our time wisely, being selfish. And that kind of unnecessary guilt is absolutely not okay.
In NYC we are constantly working from a space of deficit, and not only is that harmful but it is also dangerous... because we are depleting our soul of it's magic... our imagination of it's secret sauce... and our drive from its vision.
It has to stop.
Then there's Nia Wilson.
Last week I was able to put together a support group to mourn Nia. I work for The Wing, a women's community and co-working space that is in NYC + DC (soon SF, LA, CHI, Toronto). We opened our SoHo doors to non-members to come share their feelings about Nia... and the state of being a Black woman in Amerikkka. Amidst the sadness and anger that we shared, there was power... there was this unified sigh of relief around the acknowledgement that we all needed that space and that we needed each others support. Raven Burgos (our resident Therapist) led the circle, and something she said really stuck with me.
She said that racism causes PTSD.
I had not thought of that. But when she said that I immediately remembered that just a few days earlier, my boyfriend and I were driving along the Hudson Valley, about two hours from Manhattan, and It was raining, so he was driving carefully because hydroplaning is real! Despite the rain, we were so happy to be around so much green and peace. But as the rain turned to thunder and a car behind us turned up his lights, I went into panic mode.
Within 15 seconds, my anxiety rose. I looked at the speed at which bae was driving (again not fast, in fact below the speed limit). I looked at where his hands were (was he driving with both? or one?) I looked at the rearview mirror again to see what this car was doing. Suddenly being around the countryside made me even more nervous. ALL WITHIN 15 SECONDS. Do you know why I was having this moment?
I thought it was cops behind us.
Ain't that fucked that up? I was having an intimate panic attack because I thought the cops, the people who are supposed to serve and protect, were behind us.
This wonderful weekend getaway, quickly turned into my worse nightmare. How could I protect us? Would I freeze? Would I record a potential situation? I wished we were safely indoors. Hidden.
The car passed us. It was not a cop. I calmed down. I went back to enjoying the trip. I put that moment away into another box in the closet where all other moments like these are kept. I did not tell my boyfriend about what I had just felt. I did not fully process it... until Raven said what she said.
So all these things, PTSD from racism in Amerikkka and the energetic overdraft from living in NYC have me in my feelings.
What I learned is: you cannot control a city's culture or a racist country and it's racist people, but you CAN control what you do for yourself. To mourn. To process. To unravel and build again. To sleep better at night. To have better outlets. To be closer to your God.
This month, in the spirit of controlling what I can to do better by me; I'm going to hit another reiki healing session. I'm going to treat myself to a massage. I'm going to put a deep conditioning mask on my hair (multiple actually). I'm saying no to a few lunches (sometimes a lunch alone is helpful in the middle of a hectic week). I'm going to dance as much as possible with my friends. I'm going to lay on my mans nook until his arm is numb and kiss him until he's maxed out on kisses. I'm going to pour back into myself, and I hope you do too.
As always, sending you all love & light.
image post by: Vanja Vukelić