Hey! Hi! Howdy! How are you? Again…it has been awhile. I hate saying I’m busy because that’s the excuse that everyone gives, but hey what can I say…your girl has been busy. I wanted to pop in here and wish everyone a healthy and healing May, which also happens to be Mental Health Awareness Month. If you haven’t done so already, take time this month to reflect on all the things that you’ve accomplished, even if it is as simple as waking up in the morning or brushing your teeth. Today, I will be doing a little bit of much needed journaling; manifesting my future and giving thanks to the things that have happened so far this year. Today I declare protection over me as I venture out and explore new endeavors. May you all receive much success. See you soon…and hopefully this time not five months later!
Tag Archives: self love
Graduate School Update: So This Isn’t An Aesthetic…Or Is It?
I am in the middle of my ninth week of graduate school. You know, it was much easier telling people I was a graduate student than actually being one. Wait…so I actually have to do assignments? This isn’t just an aesthetic? This isn’t just something I can casually bring up at dinner parties to spark a conversation? Wow, who knew? Of course, I’m kidding, but as I would proudly explain to people that I would be attending the Counseling program at Northwestern University, I truly didn’t know what this chapter in my life would consist of. Juggling graduate school work and my research assistantship proved to be quite a bit. I tried to work six hours a day, and study equally as much. I started to run myself ragged; getting two to four hours a night and trying to function. My assistantship has recently ended, and I am currently trying to find a new one. I’ve applied to a couple research positions…haven’t heard anything from them. You need money, especially if you’re me; a black woman in her 20s who would like to move out of her parents house at least by the time she is 25. I have always had this obsession with living in a New York City high rise with a perfect view of the city skyline. My apartment would be spacious with artwork on the walls and plants to accompany the corners of my room. I am nowhere close to being at that point, and a part of me feels like a failure because I haven’t gotten there. You can find me when I’m taking my breaks from studying scrolling through Pinterest envisioning myself in the place of those in the pictures I’ve pinned. I don’t know who they are, or how they got to where they are now, but I have a tendency to romanticize their experiences. My semi-solution besides work smarter not harder is to romanticize my life from day to day…which can be hard when your life is not the most glamorous. I sometimes feel like I am the character of some coming-of-age drama. After struggling and enduring hardships during my undergraduate collegiate years, I, the awkward, quirky, slightly mentally ill black girl decides to actually apply herself in academia, and somehow she was accepted to grad school at a pretty good institution. Now, I am maneuvering the next chapter of my life, continuing to grow as a young woman while simultaneously feeling like I am still 16 and asking my parents if I can buy Starbucks. This is the fun part they say, working toward the goal, but quite frankly, it has been annoying me for the most part. I know that one day I will look back at this journey and reminisce about the level of uncertainty I had during this time. In a way, it is kind of exciting not knowing what comes next, but also anxiety inducing at the same time. Guess we’ll just have to see…
To Help Me Forget For A Little While…
I had a whole article written before I decided to scrap it and be completely transparent. In that one, I was talking about how I, the great mental health blogger that I am (I’m kidding), keeps calm during a time like this. I had bullet points on the basic things that people do like cook or take intermittent naps. I was going to make it seem like I was automatically processing everything correctly and in a healthy manner. I was going to make it seem like I had all the answers. As much as I would love to be the knower-of-all…I’m not…I’m human just like all of you. I ponder things religiously, and sometimes even after I’ve given every brain cell I have to try and connect how things operate, I still don’t understand. On top of quarantine and living through a pandemic, there have been some looming thoughts in my head. My Grandmother passed away about a month ago, and every time I think of her I begin to cry…I’m tearing up a little now that I mention it. My summer class just ended, my internship, something that I’m very grateful for, is relatively demanding, and I’m trying to write more content on this blog. Then, if that isn’t enough, take a look at the news! If you’re black or a person of color, hearing and seeing the stories of your people being slaughtered in the streets can psychologically distress the strongest person. At one point, Twitter was in a frenzy; exposing countless rapists and abusers around the country. Thoughts of my own attack flooded back to the corners of my brain like a dam. I relived that anger, that hopelessness, and that sense of sudden numbness. I remembered the people who told me it was my fault. Hearing someone say that an act you’ve never asked for is your identity strikes you like a freshly sharpened dagger…I don’t know how else to explain it. I’ve had crying spells where it felt like they would never stop; where my eyes would swell like a bee sting and wither like a drought. It was a lot, and I had to take a break from it all.
I’m guilty when it comes to using my productivity as a means of feeling valuable. I also try to ignore any mental pain or fatigue that I feel because I think being perceived as strong is better than being stable. Today, I laid in bed, typed this, and watched Netflix, and I actually felt good about it. Usually, I would engage in some tender-loving self care for about thirty minutes, and then go right back to doing some type of assignment. If I tried to practice self care, I would immediately counteract it. I would surround myself with the countless messages swirling through the media that my life was not welcome and I have no place anywhere. As much as I am proud of people of all shades, cultures, religions, sexual orientations, genders, and so on coming together…it’s draining that we as a collective are still doing this. Black people and people of color deserve to be respected. Marginalized groups deserve to be loved. We deserve to live a long and healthy life. We don’t deserve this bloodshed. We don’t deserve to live in fear. I’m exhausted. I’ve had a headache for the last two days, and you can tell I’m stressed by the slew of pimples that have accumulated on my cheeks. My brain felt like it was swelling; I felt nothingness one minute and then every emotion known to man the next. I was going insane…staring at the wall and letting my thoughts run rampant insane. Enough was enough, I had to do something in order to regain and maintain some type of sanity. So…this is what I did.
I started a new day and set my intentions. As crazy as the previous day might have been, this is a new one, and there is always a chance that this day will be better. First, I always give thanks to God and the universe that I am able to see this day. There are so many loved ones who didn’t, and I am grateful that my journey is to be continued. I am a firm believer in manifestation and prayer, and I honestly think that these two things have really saved me in terms of my mental health. The pen is mightier than a sword, but combining the power with a strong voice… you’re unstoppable. I am slacking on writing down my manifestations, so I need to get back into the swing of things. Sometimes just waking up and stating how you want your day to go will make you feel that much better. To piggyback off of giving thanks for waking up in the morning, I pray for the things that I would love to take place in my life, like me and my family being protected against evil forces sent to kill, steal, and destroy and achieving every goal that has been set. Then, I thank God for everything that has happened; that it happened, that I learned from it, and that I made it through. If I write down my prayers and manifestations, I always read them out loud. Never say negative thoughts aloud, or at least try not to. It’s normal for negative thoughts to come about, but don’t speak them or write them down. When you speak or write out negative thoughts, it is almost like you are decreeing them into existence.
I took deep breaths and tried to meditate…it is harder than it looks. As people, we are quite shallow breathers. As we mature into adulthood, we change the way we breathe. As infants and children, we all breathe deeper. We took big, extensive, belly moving breaths, and now we more so breathe with our chest. Try it; take a breath in through your nose for ten seconds, and then breathe out for ten out seconds through your mouth. I don’t know about you, but I feel a lot lighter. Your heart rate increases a little when you take a breath in, and slows down once you breathe out. When it comes to meditating, I have always had difficulty. I’ll roll my yoga mat out, get down, hit my criss-cross applesauce position, close my eyes, clench my thumb and pointer fingers together, and try to focus on one thought peacefully. I last probably for a good thirty seconds…I wish I was kidding. One thing I feel I need to work on is focusing on my breathing; remaining still and reminding myself that whatever I have to do will get done once my meditation session is over. Maybe one day I’ll be able to get past the minute mark. According to the Massachusetts General Hospital, breathing, mindfulness, and meditation changes brain regions that are associated with memory, empathy, stress, and sense of self like the brain’s gray matter. When I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders, sometimes the simplest thing to do is to take a deep breath.
I drink water and eat fruits and vegetables. Water is my favorite beverage. It is the elixir of life. The fact that there are people around the world who don’t have access to water while there are people who freaking swim in it for a living is ridiculous to me. For those who have the privilege of having clean drinking water…don’t take it for granted and donate to give others the opportunity to have the same access. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine states that an adequate amount of water intake per day is between 11.5 cups and 15.5 cups. I have a gallon jug that I keep beside my bed. I try to drink half of it every day, and I’ve been keeping up with it. Water lubricates your joints and muscles. It helps cushion the brain and spinal cord…those are pretty important parts of your body. It helps eliminate waste, helps you stay energized, promotes healthier skin…the list goes on and on. Adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet can lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease, prevent some cancers, give you a beneficial dose of vitamins and minerals, and so many more factors. I know when given the opportunity to chow down on a donut versus a stalk of celery, it can be hard to choose the healthier option. It’s okay to indulge in some Krispy Kreme from time to time, but believe me, you will feel much better after gnawing on an apple. I’ve been eating a lot of peaches lately, as well as tomatoes, cucumbers, and baby carrots. When I’m craving a bowl of chips, I try to replace that with a mix of all three vegetables.
I pay a visit to my seven year old self. The reason I go back to my seven year old self is because that was the age when I started feeling insecure. Seven year old me was when I started to kind of lose the confidence I had. It took a few years to gain it back, and I know that little me would be beaming with joy. She would be proud of the things that I’ve accomplished. At the age of seven, I would give anything for my hair to be straight. All the other girls seemed to have their hair that way, and I wanted to be like them. My hair was straightened every four weeks until I was about eighteen years old. I was chubby, with a name no one pronounced right, glasses, and a gap in between my buck two front teeth. My two year anniversary of my big chop was last week, and I am currently rocking a growing fro. I would have never thought that I would be comfortable with my curls and coils. When I was younger, I wanted to be skinny and at least be the same height as my Dad, who stands at 5’9. I am six inches below that, and I’m about a size ten…well, during quarantine, I really have no idea what the hell I am. As shocked as she would be, she would be proud that I am happy with who I am. If I was able to speak with her, well, I wouldn’t speak at first. I would embrace her; the road that is ahead is treacherous, but beautiful at the same time. She learns so much about who she is, the flaws that she has and the things that she needs to exemplify and praise. She wouldn’t cry once being held because she thought tears were a sign of weakness, but I would, because I know it showcases quite a bit of strength to do so. I would tell her that I love her, despite that person telling her that no one didn’t. I would tell her to love herself more…and then more than that, and then more than that. I’d ask her how she’s feeling right now and maybe give her some advice on how to resolve it. I would tell her that being quirky and weird is what makes her special, and that she is not alone in the unique way that she thinks. What would you tell your younger self?
I fell back in love with things I used to enjoy doing. I’ve taken some of this time to just explore. I began to play the viola again. I played in a conservatory in high school. As I held the instrument in one hand and the bow in the other, I almost felt whole. I played The Swan, the 13th movement of Camille Saint-Saens Carnival of the Animals. It is one of the prettiest pieces of music I think I’ve ever heard. When I listen to it, I envision myself in Paris…he is a French composer you know. As stupid as they may have sounded, I wrote songs and poems. I have a piano right across from my bed, and when I get an idea in my head, I’ll move my chair in front of my keyboard and just let my creative juices pour out onto the keys. For a lot of you creative folk, it may be hard right now to create. It was for me too, and I kind of pressured myself to make something that I deemed as worthy enough. Sometimes you find your best work within a dry spell, and I just created…whether it was good or bad. The act of writing poems or music was more so supposed to be therapeutic, and it was. Whether it made sense or not, I just wrote about what I felt. Art is such a good form of therapy, whether it be singing, dancing, drawing…anything. It made me realize that I want to incorporate more of those talents into my daily routine. If that made me feel better then, I’m hoping it will do so from day to day.
Fine…I will include intermittent naps in here. Napping is one of my favorite past times. A nap has become an integral part of my daily routine, my only flaw is that a thirty minute nap will turn into a five hour snooze. Sleeping is crucial for your physical health. It rejuvenates you. It heals and repairs your heart and blood vessels. It can help improve concentration and productivity and help your immune system. In my case, sometimes I don’t know what to do, and I stress myself out trying to come up with an answer for whatever I’m going through. Sometimes the only thing I can do is take a nap, rest on it, and save the mental effort for another time. I got out of my house. Just sitting outside on my porch letting the sun hit my face can be the therapy I need. I watch the trees sway back and forth as they waltz with the leaves. The fresh air reinvigorates my senses, and I picture myself in different scenes of nature. I was on a beach in California. I watched the snow fall in the Poconos. I rode bikes down the streets of Toledo…I was there. I go to my happy places, whether they be close by like my Grandma’s room, or somewhere on the other side of the world like the time I made paella in Barcelona. I appreciated the things that nature does for us; offers us sunlight, nourishes our plants and crops, gives us shade and oxygen…I am so grateful for these scenes.
Don’t batter and abuse yourself; pushing your brain to the brink of insanity. No matter what, your mental health is important. When your mental health is in the right place, your body follows suit. We all thank you for your continuous fight in trying to end racism and white supremacy. We all thank you for working hard and making moves in your career. We all thank you for risking your life to help others. We all thank you for being here another day, but sometimes those days can be too much. It’s okay to take a break. It’s okay to feel joy during this time. You need to remember the good things that life can offer, and we want you to be here when these good things finally come about.
Grieve At Your Own Pace
I tend to ponder in thought quite a bit, as many people do. The mind can take us to some pretty chasmic places; rewinding scenarios in our heads that make no sense, whether you have created them or not. Since Sunday, I have been doing this as I’m sure many other people have. This makes no sense…none at all. When unexpected and unexplainable situations occur, we try to rationalize what’s unfolding. We’re in disbelief and we’re in shock. We empathize with the victims and their families. We think about how something could have been prevented. We claim that what has happened is not real. We think about the situation if it were us in their shoes. We may link together other times when our feelings took a turn for the worst, making our experience that much more unbearable. Our emotions aren’t linear; in complete and utter shambles one day, feeling invincible the next, then back in shambles again. There is no clear way to express your emotions during certain situations.
Grieving is the multifaceted response typically for loss. Grieving has no standard image or action. When you have developed a deep bond with someone or something, it suddenly being taken away can feel like we lost apart of ourselves. I remember when my Grandmother passed. The moments during the initial shock differed so much. My Dad was in hysterics. He wasn’t in town at the time, so his wails and cries were transferred through the phone. My Mom, somewhat stoic in nature, sighed as she processed the passing, not because she was annoyed, but because she knew how impactful his mom (my Grandma) was in his life. My parents work well together. While my Dad starts with emotions first, he works through them so at the end of the day he can use his logic. My Mom is the opposite. Whatever she needs to do, she’ll get it done, only to process her emotions after it has been completed. They are able to lean on each other when the other needs to.
You may want to cry. You may want to scream your lungs out. I took a six hour nap yesterday after incessantly bawling. Some want to be left alone, while others want to be surrounded by close friends and family. As long as it’s not hurting you or anyone else…
…grieve the way you need to.
Loss can feel like a heart attack. You feel like you’ve stopped breathing, your heart palpitates, and tears may start to well at your eyes. It can feel like the end of the world. You feel numb; on earth, but not apart of it. It feels like your mind is dissolving. Memories flood back like a tsunami, and it almost feels like you will never be able to reach a homeostasis. Denial, isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance…sound familiar? These are most commonly known as the stages of grieving. Of course, most of us know what denial is; refusing to believe that whatever took place happened. Isolation commonly goes along with denial. We like to remove ourselves from other people’s company. Maybe it annoys you being around others who don’t feel the way you feel, and that’s okay. Maybe you just want to be alone because you just want to…that’s okay too. ￼We may start to feel tension build up. Our muscles clench as you grit your teeth and try to ignore the seething displaced pain that’s felt. We may get mad at ourselves for responding the way we are when grieving. Maybe you’re upset because you physically lost something and you forgot for a brief moment that you’re human and things happen. Anger can be directed towards another person who was involved; a lot of the time, the person who was the victim if there is one. We may garner a sense of hope with bargaining. If I do this, then this will be the outcome. If I stop doing this, then they will come back and this, that, thus, and so. It’s like trying to make a deal with the universe. We may begin feeling overwhelmed and saddened at the fact that whatever it is we are going through…not much can be done to change the outcome. And once all of this passes, people can finally accept the changes that have come, and begin your journey of healing. Does it always start at denial? No. Maybe you get angry at first. Maybe you all of a sudden feel this wave of melancholic energy. There may be some stages that you don’t even experience, and then there may be some stages that are added to your personal grieving process. There isn’t a time frame to grieving either. It may take someone years to heal from something, while for others it may take a couple of days. Take as much time as you need.
What happened was tragic, and your brain might not be able to compute what has just taken place. Disconnect from the world for a little bit; take some time amongst yourself. Analyze and acknowledge your feelings…every single one. Take things slow for the day. Deep breaths; in through the nose and out the mouth. Move around; do yoga, exercise, take a walk…be around nature. There’s something calming about fresh air; being among the trees, the very vessels that give us oxygen. If it’s too cold to go outside, curl up with a warm blanket and an inspiring book. Go pick up a pen and write. Write everything that develops in your brain, no matter how random the thoughts may be. When bad thoughts begin to burgeon, stop their growth with words of love; for yourself and for others. Love, that’s the key thing. Love those whom you’re closest to, and don’t forget to love them out loud. Forgive yourself for your mistakes, and work on forgiving others for theirs. We have been reminded that life is inevitable and it is sudden. That doesn’t mean worry about when your life may end, it means celebrate it and all of its little wonders. You made it to class on time, congratulations! Your boss brought donuts to that 8 o’clock meeting, that’s amazing. The little things can be the most important and enjoyable parts of life. You’re alive, it’s okay to act like it.
Appreciate the time you have.
You Made It…
Can you think back to December 31st, 2018? What were you praying and manifesting would happen in the year to come? I knew 2019 was going to be a culmination of growth and reflection. Well, I feel every year consists of those two things, but I don’t know…2019 was different. Think about it, 2019 is the last year of the decade; this was the year of completion. 2019 made us uncomfortable; it made us question how we treat people, our past decisions, and the ways in which we have let other’s interact with us. We were kind of lost going into this year. I can speak for myself when I say that 2019 was my wake up call. January 1st got right in my face and said “get it together!” 2019 dragged me by my heels and made me face reality. It was scary, it was harsh, but it was needed. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different response, and I was a lunatic. 2019 made me question who I was as a person and who I wanted to be. It made me question the energy I allowed to infiltrate my space, but with that being said…it made me ask myself why I was attracting this type of energy?
I spoke a lot to my younger self, and it was good to see her again. She was around the age of seven or eight. She had a braid on each side of her head with one in the back, and pink barrettes clipped to her scalp. She was chubby and cute, two things that she didn’t think could coexist with each other. She wanted someone to tell her that she was worthy. She wanted to be told that she was beautiful; that she was smart, talented, and intelligent. She wanted to be told that she didn’t need to lose thirty pounds in order to look good. She wanted to be told that her physical flaws aren’t flaws at all; they’re little idiosyncrasies that deserved to be celebrated. At the age of 21, I was glad that I was able to give that to her.
In 2019, I was able to confront a lot of things in my life that used to poke and prod at my self esteem. I highlighted the things that I love about myself, as well as the things I want to change within. I was able to forgive myself and others for the past, and leave those memories there. I have become more content with being alone and spending time with my thoughts. I am learning that I am my own soulmate. Myself and I were courting in 2019, and now we are in a relationship. When deeply in love with yourself, you move differently. I learned that everything is not a competition; just because I failed does not make me a failure. What’s meant for me will be for me, and I should speak positively over my life because it is precious. The things that I cannot control I will not give energy to, and I will be more careful with the things I can change.
I am so excited for 2020. I got a glimpse of what could come if I continue down the right path. I haven’t felt this hopeful in a long time. I feel confident in myself, and when the bouts of insecurity come, I know what to do to remind myself of my worth. I’m being more selfish this year. This new decade I pray will be the new emergence of the person I want to be. I will be a better woman, a better sister, daughter, granddaughter, friend, writer, student, artist…all the things that I consider myself, I will be better. I pray for a cleansing of the heart, mind, and soul. To anyone reading this, I pray that you tap into that potential that you know is there, and that you too become the best version of yourself.
Happy New Year
What Consent Is…and What it Isn’t
Consent. That word has become pretty controversial over the past few years. With the #MeToo movement, so many people are mustering up the courage to come forward with their stories of sexual assault, rape, and abuse. Consent is the permission for something to happen or agreement to do something. Not too hard to comprehend right? Well, for some, it’s relatively confusing.
That could have to do with rape culture says Lena Finkel in her article for Medium.com called Why is Consent So Difficult to Understand? The no means no mantra should be instilled into people’s brains, I mean it’s simply self explanatory. If you ask someone if you can eat their fries for lunch, and they say no, well there you have it…you can’t eat their fries. If your hairdresser asks if they can chop all your hair off and give you a tapered fade and you say no, guess what? They better not be chopping your hair off and giving you a tapered fade. If you are lounging on the couch with your boo Netflix and chilling (oh, how I hate that term), and he is starting to go a little bit further than you want, when you say no or stop…he better go back to paying attention to Thanos evaporating most of the Avengers on TV (spoiler I guess, but you should have seen it already. If you haven’t…what’s wrong with you?). Of course, there are people who think that no means “let me try a little bit harder to persuade you until you give in” and stop means “I’m going to do it anyways because you’ll eventually like it later on.” No is a powerful word…and there are many times where uttering that word still doesn’t give the other party the bright idea that what they’re doing is wrong and not wanted. Well how about when no isn’t said, but the act still isn’t wanted? This is where consent begins to get a little fuzzy to some.
To add on to the definition of consent, consent must be clear, concise, and enthusiastic. There is nothing wrong with just getting down to the nitty gritty and asking, “do you want to have sex?” I know, I know, that is probably the least sexy way to get in the mood, but better safe than sorry. If the other person does not give you a solid green light, abort the mission my friend. I mean a succinct, “yes I want to have sex with you.” If the person is hesitant, saying things a long the lines of “I guess” or “maybe” sorry bud but that’s a no. For your safety, that should be a no. If the person consents, and things are going well, and then all of a sudden the other person wants to stop, what do you do? You stop! There is this weird belief that a person can’t cease consent if they already started getting physical. I’m here to say that’s not the case at all. You can always revoke consent at any given time.
What about if the other person is intoxicated? Or incapacitated? In 2014, music artist Cee-Lo Green tweeted that it wasn’t rape…if the woman was unconscious. He also added, and I quote, “people who have really been raped remember.” You’d be surprised, but there are actually a few people who believe this. It’s like when someone comes into your house and takes from you when you’re not home. “Oh it’s not stealing if you’re not in your house.” If I hit you in your sleep and you don’t wake up, that doesn’t mean that I didn’t hit you, I still did. You just didn’t feel it. On January 18, 2015, Brock Allen Turner, was spotted raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. This woman experienced a significant amount of physical trauma, as well as emotional. People should be able to go out and enjoy themselves at a party, but at the moment, it’s just not something that we can do. Society tends to blame the person who blacks out or gets inebriated is shamed. Yes, a person should know their limits in terms of drinking, but we are human, people sometimes can get a little out of hand and drink more than they need to. That doesn’t mean that someone should just take advantage of them because it’s now easier for them to be manipulated. If I take a glance at your wallet while you’re at a parking meter and see a large wad of cash in there, does that give me the right to bash you over the head and take it? I mean, you opened your wallet a little too wide, obviously you wanted to get robbed. Does that make sense to you? In my personal opinion, if a person is drunk, they are not able to consent. Point. Blank. Period. You have no business trying to sleeping with a person who can barely stand or make rational decisions for themselves. A lot of people use this as a loophole. Oh she said yes so it was okay. Oh he didn’t fight back, it was fine. This person also is a light weight and gulped half a bottle of Hennessy and washed it down with Capriccio and one-third of a 4 Loko. I don’t really see the fun in having sex with a person who is on the verge of passing out or choking on their own vomit.
Predators like to prey on people who are more vulnerable because they have more power over the situation. A drunk person won’t really fight back as much as a sober person. What if they’re both drunk? Who takes the ownership? Even I am stumped on this. Typically, it is determined based off of the person who is the most conscious in the situation. If the person knows that they are drunk, and the other person is drunk as well, and the initiate the act, they are the ones at fault. The court would really have to go through the case with a fine tooth comb if it was ever sent to trial. This argues the fact that drunk sex can never be consensual. I don’t really know about that, but I do believe that it depends on the amount of alcohol that is being ingested. There’s a difference between tipsy and drunk. Going back to the statement I made before, who would want to have sex with a sloppy drunk person?
To sum up, I’ll go through a run down of what I’m talking about:
- never assume the person wants to have sex. I don’t care if they are bumping and grinding on you in the club and singing The Weeknd’s Or Nah verbatim after deep throating a popsicle…ASK! Sorry for the graphic image.
- pay attention to body language. If you are initiating sexual contact and the other person is not engaging enthusiastically or like they actually want to do it…stop! Remember, consent is clear and concise, and should be verbal to be safe.
- if the other person is drunk, leave them alone. Just leave them alone. If the person is on some type of narcotics…LEAVE HER ALONE! They are not able to consent. If you’re not a shitty human being, maybe help them in some way.
- it’s still rape if the person is unconscious. Cee-Lo Green is an idiot.
- lastly, no means no.
Unfortunately, there are those people who know that no means no and that rape and sexual assault is not okay, but they don’t care. These people are mentally disturbed; disregarding a person’s well being for their own pleasure and sick compulsions. Those are the people that need the most help, but it might be too late for them. There are some pretty cruel people out there. Please be careful. Remember, you are not at fault. You are not in the wrong.
Here is a video that I think really helps demonstrate what consent really is:
Today’s Affirmations: Pain and Resolution
I re-watched an episode of Uncensored on the television station TV One. This particular episode was on a woman by the name of Tami Roman. For those of you that don’t know who she is, she is most known for being a cast member on the VH1 hit Basketball Wives, as well as being on the original season of The Real World. I didn’t really know much about her, but I really did learn a lot about her life. My Mother used to watch this series, and she would say that Tami could be a force to be reckoned with, and now that I have seen her episode of Uncensored, I can kind of see why.
This woman was sexually abused not once…but twice in her life. The first time was when she was eight years old by her Mother’s boyfriend. I wrote an essay on child sexual abuse. If you didn’t read it, please take the time to do so. The psychological turmoil a child can go through when it comes to being violated at an early age…the list goes on and on. Then while getting gas with a friend, she had her jewelry stolen off her body and was forced to drive to an abandoned warehouse where her and her friend were sexually abused for four days until the person finally let them go. The anger she must have felt; the anger and frustration. I am sure that incident caused her to put her walls up and go into attack mode when she senses that someone is attacking her. I kind of do the same thing. I recently had a person tell me that I was too aggressive, and that if I think someone is trying to pick a fight with me, I shut down or go off…there isn’t really much of a gray area. With that being said, I wanted to focus on pain, anger and of course resolution. Sometimes we can’t control the things that happen to us. The pain and trauma that is inflicted upon us against our will is not our fault. It has no bearing on who you are and has everything to do with them. The mantra is of course for healing any guilt or shame that comes with the wrongdoing that has been forced upon you, as well as soothing the anger and frustration that comes with remembering.
I am not at fault
I am not my trauma
I AM NOT MY TRAUMA
I am not my pain
I may be frustrated now, but I won’t be for the rest of my life
What they did has nothing to do with me and everything to do with them
It’s okay to be angry
It’s okay to not be okay
It’s okay to reach out for help
I will be healed
I will be whole
When I begin to think about the past, I will focus even more on the present and the future
I am my own hero
I am strong…but it’s okay not to be sometimes
This too shall pass
Things will get better
I will continue to have faith…and if I have none at the moment, it will come to me
I will exercise my emotions in a healthy and positive way
I will regulate my emotions when they seem to be too much
Positivity is just beyond the horizon
I will surround myself with people who care about my well being
I will surround myself with people who want me to do better
I will be around people who treat me the way that I should be treated
I will treat people better
I will evolve positively in all aspect of my life
All me hopes and dreams will come into fruition.
I will be alright
A 12 Year Old Black Boy Is Still A Child
In the black community, a twelve year old is seen as grown. Tamir Rice was that very age when he was gunned down by the police in 2014 for playing with a toy gun. A 12-year-old black girl in New York was told to remove her clothing by the police because they thought that she had drugs on her person. Black children grow up much faster than they’re supposed to, and we can attribute that to how society depicts us. We’re aggressive, loud, and unruly individuals. Black boys are just being bred to be gang members and drug dealers, while young girls are fast; growing up to just be unwed Mothers. I don’t know how many times I was told not to be “fast” growing up by my parents, grandparents, and other adults in my life. Since when does wearing shorts constitute that I suddenly had an affinity for grown men? I understand now that they were saying this to warn me and keep me safe.
This notion has stuck with us ever since we were brought over as slaves in the 1700s; black men and women just being okay with whatever happens to their bodies, as if they were some type of doll; a possession. What angers me is the fact that our people are feeding into these lies, and are inflicting pain because of them. On this blog, I talk quite a bit about sexual assault. As a black woman who has been through my share, I know that it has a long lasting affect on a person. The amount of pain, anger, confusion, and frustration that one goes through is almost unbearable. I have literally thrown up over the stories that I have heard of black women who have been inappropriately touched by older men. Some women were as old as six being touched on by men ten times their senior. As we uplift the black queens that have endured this misconduct, we have to remember that this is the case for black men who have been through rape and sexual assault as well.
We must uplift them too, and listen to their stories. Almost every male that I have spoken to has told me some sort of story about them being sexual with a woman much older than he while they were under the age of 17 or 18. It doesn’t matter how old the person looks, if they are under the age of 18, they are not of legal age to consent to anything sexual. Hell, they aren’t really of legal age to consent to anything. Recently, a 21-year-old woman was confronted by her friends because she was having sexual relations with a 12-year-old. Not only did she do that, but she documented it on her phone, and gave the boy an STD (and you best believe that she knew she had it). One of the friends had let this woman into her home and shared it with her. She had the audacity to betray her trust and rape her friend’s little cousin. I wanted to kind of highlight the reasons why she engaged in this behavior with the young man. She claims that this boy was coming on to her and touching on her, and that’s how the incident started. I want to say that this is complete and utter bullshit…pardon my language. Even if the little boy did all of that, you didn’t have to have sex with him! Push him away and use it as a teaching moment, and if he’s being aggressive, tell someone about it. Tell him that what he was doing was not okay. Don’t indulge. Do you have no self control? I agree with the woman in the video telling her off. That was no excuse, she’s just trying to play victim. In an Instagram live that the boy’s cousin was giving, she said that the rapist mentioned that he started to look good to her after awhile. This woman also said that the rapist also claimed that it was more exciting to do something that was illegal. She thought that it was thrilling. She bragged that she was having sex with him…get this…four to five times a day! A day! For two weeks. This woman recorded their sexual encounters. She even sent them to a friend. You see, pedophiles are not just creepy white men in their late fifties with salt and pepper beards and cargo shorts, they can be young, attractive black women.
There were men in the comments section of the video saluting this young man, saying what had happened to him was not that bad. They think that a young boy having sex with an older woman is some type of prize that they should take pride in; like a badge of courage. A close family member of mine was nine years old when he lost his virginity to an 18-year-old. His brother, who was 12 years older than him allowed it to happen. He actually set it up. This person is one of the most intelligent people that I have ever met, and even he couldn’t see that what had happened to him was rape. This little boy was raped; there isn’t any other way that you can spin it. In our culture, we are brainwashed to think that black boys aren’t as affected by sexual assault as we are because wanting to have sex is in their nature. This whole scenario (without the disease) is seen as a fantasy. In a YouTube video, Lil Wayne was detailing how he lost his virginity at the age of 11 to a grown woman. The people in the room were laughing as he retold the story, but there was nothing funny about anything that he said. DeRay Davis in a VladTV interview said that he was raped as a little boy by two grown women in their thirties. He tried to make a joke about it, but again…there’s nothing funny. And you can’t forget R.Kelly. Robert Kelly…where do I begin? He stated that he had been sexually abused by a family member from the time he was seven or eight to 14 or 15. I know one of those abusers was his older sister, and someone probably abused her, and so on and so forth.
Going back to the essay that I wrote on child sexual abuse, the psychological effects that this young man may have will be brutal. This child could grow to resent women. He could shut down from physical contact all together. He could go the opposite route and engage in reckless sexual activity, putting himself and others in danger. He could exhibit severe emotional issues later on in life. He could show symptoms of PTSD, anxiety, and depression. Sex may be distorted because of this situation. There is so much that this little boy could be going through. As a future psychiatrist (I am speaking it into existence) it is my mission to help people; guiding them out of guilt and shame from something that they didn’t even do. Like the little boy in the video, most of these boys are touched by a family friend. Most of them are assaulted between the ages of nine and 13.
Just because the person has a penis, it doesn’t mean that person is always the aggressor. Being raped is not a way of entering manhood; that happens naturally. If a 13 year old girl was raped by a 23-year-old, does that now make her a woman? No, it doesn’t does it? Why is it any different for a man? Tommy J. Curry of Texas A&M knows all too well about this subject. In his book, The Man-Not: Race, Class and Genre, and the Dilemmas of Black Manhood, he goes into the lack of victim hood that black boys experience in terms of sexual assault. “The hyper-masculinity of the Black male brute resonates in the minds of observers and theorists as a denial of his sexual victimization and rape by women.” You can rape a man. Men aren’t just these sex crazed animals, they have boundaries as well. Like I stated earlier, even in our community, black boys are not seen as children. They are seen as brutes, savages…even monsters, just because of their race and the way they look.
The woman who raped this 12-year-old boy will not have it easy in life. Not only is she a rapist, but she’s a sex offender. The crimes that she committed can result in a few legal charges; statutory rape, child pornography, and attempted murder for the STD (I think). This woman is a predator and she needs psychological help. Talk to your sons. Talk to your brothers. Let them know that older women preying on them is not okay. Hear their stories and don’t ignore your friends when they tell you about their traumatic sexual encounters. Let them know that you support them and are sorry that those women did those things to them at such a tender age. Black men, don’t suppress your pain and bury it, it will only fester and explode in your face in the long run. Protect yourselves; your bodies, your minds, your spirits. Please get the help that you need. It’s alright to get help. It’s okay to reach out for guidance. You deserve to heal just like everybody else.
Video posted below:
Sexual Abuse in Children
Sexual Abuse in Children: Before, During, and After
In 1978, the Children’s Division of American Humane Association reported that an estimate of around 100,000 children were sexually abused each year. That was forty-one years ago, and as of now, the number has skyrocketed. Government officials state that this number has risen up to 700 million children worldwide. One out of ten children have gone through some type of sexual abuse. As much as that number is alarming, it unfortunately is the reality for many children in the United States. These acts of violation can heavily affect a child’s brain; biologically and psychologically. This stunts their development, as well as hinders future mental thought processes as one gets older.
Sexual assault may seem relatively easy to detect, but to this day, it still isn’t understood completely. When anyone intentionally hurts of harms a person psychologically, sexually, physically, or with acts of neglect, this is known as abuse. Child sexual abuse is the exact same thing, just with a minor (typically seventeen and under) involved. A child under no circumstances can consent to doing anything sexual with anyone of consenting age. When an adult engages in any inappropriate acts with a minor, they are knowingly exposing the child to irreversible damage; obstructing one’s vulnerability. One thing to note is that child sexual abuse isn’t just always physical contact, although that is the case in many situations. RAINN, the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, says some of these acts are, and certainly not limited to:
Exhibitionism, a mental condition in which a person is compelled to display one’s genitals in public.
Fondling (stroke or caress erotically)
Masturbation in the presence of a child
Forcing a child to masterbate in front of them
Obscene phone calls, text messages, online chat rooms, or any digital interaction
Producing, owning, or sharing child pornography
The people who commonly inflict these acts of violation are people that these minor may know and see on a regular basis, which makes it a lot easier to manipulate the person; teachers, coaches, instructors, caretaker, an older sibling, parent, step-parent, parent of a friend, and even their friends. As many as ninety three percent of children know the perpetrator. This drives a wedge into a person’s trust, creating those issues and letting them manifest into their behaviors later on in life.
There are a few tell-tell signs of sexual assault in children; both physical and biological like stated earlier. The signs may be easier to discern depending on the age of the child. For instance, the average age for menstruation in young women is around twelve, so if a twelve year old is bleeding from ill-suited activity, sexual abuse might not be the first thing that comes to mind. Now, if a person is examining a four year old with vaginal bleeding, that may raise a few red flags. Bleeding is a common sign, but so is sudden bruising or swelling in the genital region. Torn articles of clothing, difficulty walking or sitting, frequent urination, urinary tract infections, yeast infections, or peeling, burning, and or agitation in or around the vagina, penis, or buttocks.
The brain is one of the most complex and fragile organs inside the human body. It is made up of over billions of different nerves; communicating in the trillions by connecting in sequences called synapses. This typically occurs around three years of age. In the early stages of brain development, neural connections and skills form first, followed by more complex thought processes, circuits, and abilities (Harvard). A child’s mind is impressionable; like a sponge, absorbing every experience that they come across. In Piaget’s Theory of Development, he states that human beings build up mental structures to adapt to the world around them. Children constantly construct their own “cognitive worlds.” At the beginning of the sensorimotor stage, mental changes begin to occur. Infants construct their understanding of the world by their own senses. After the sensorimotor stage comes the preoperational stage, a stage that begins from the age of two and ends at the age of seven. During this age range, Vygotsky says that children begin to develop their own way of thinking, and this is shaped primarily through social interaction. Children’s minds are shaped my cultural context. Imagine a child who has been molested, how do you think they are going to internalize that? What does this do to their cognitive developments and functions?
The stages of brain development are quite extensive. When a young child experiences trauma, the effects are much more profound and much more internally damaging. No new neurons are made after birth, but once the brain is developed, the neurons that are already there begin to rewire. Old connections disconnect and become no more, while new experiences attach to one another. This is an example of the brain’s plasticity, the brain’s ability to be shaped and molded. Trauma that occurs during childhood can change the development of the brain as well as the structure of it. The amygdala (an almond shaped set of neurons located deep in the temporal lobe that has control over processing emotions), hippocampus (a small curved formation in the brain that is involved in the shaping of new memories), and prefrontal cortex (the cerebral cortex covering the front part of the frontal lobe, said to plan complex cognitive behavior, personality expression, decision making and moderating social behavior) are areas of the brain implicated in the stress response. Traumatic stress can be associated with increased amounts of cortisol and norepinephrine responses to subsequent stressors (Bremner). Cortisol is a steroid hormone that regulates a wide range of processes throughout the body. These processes include metabolism and the immune system response. When cortisol levels are at such high amounts for prolonged periods of time, things such as weight gain, high blood pressure, disrupted sleep, negative moods, and a reduction in energy can occur. In a 2011 study conducted by Concordia University, many children who have behavioral issues have been shown to have an abnormally higher levels of cortisol than more well-behaving children.
This goes into behavioral signs of abuse. According to RAINN, some children after being molested refuse to bathe or execute proper hygiene. They may not take much initiative in their clothes or their hair, refusing to brush it or comb it, and not washing the things that they wear or not putting much thought into how their clothes look. Parents and teachers should notice lowering or failing grades, as well as kids just not showing up to school to begin with. It’s pretty telling when a straight A student is suddenly getting D’s and F’s on their report cards. They may also run away from places that may be deemed as “safe” like school or home. They also say that children may also:
Develop some sort of phobia
Become overly protective over siblings and friends
Have more knowledge about sex or sexual activities than the average child
Returns to regressive behaviors like thumb sucking for comfort
Feels threatened by any physical contact
Exhibits signs of depression and PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder)
Within the psychological field, many professionals are still puzzled as to why people feel the need to take advantage of minors. The debate between sex and power is heavily argued. What is the nature of the problem? Child sexual abuse is classified as a sexual problem, while some textbooks on human sexuality consider it a sexual variation. When treating a child predator, professionals orient their treatments toward sexual aberration; loosening sexual tension and temporarily quenching their sexual desires and thirst. Some sexual offenders are given antilibidinal drugs to try and suppress their sexual libido. There are two types of medications that physicians prescribe; those that decrease testosterone (e.g. progestogens, antiandrogens, and gonadotropin releasing hormones) and those that reduce sexual drives (antipsychotics and serotonergic antidepressants). Six studies examined if three of the drugs listed previously were successful in lowering testosterone. The study showed that there was no re-offence within the two year follow-up. Secondary outcomes have shown that these perverted fantasies were brought down in people being treated, however, the offences did not cease. The testosterone levels correlated with the amount of sexual activity (Khan, Ferriter, Huband, Powney, Dennis, Duggan).
Of course, the most important thing is the betterment of the child that has been affected. The child is innocent in this situation, and therapy is to help stifle trauma from progressing. Allison N. Sinanan, a social work professor at Stockton University, says that psychotherapy aids as the first model of a healthy relationship. The goal for this treatment is to jumpstart healing, nurture themselves through positive relationships, and so on and so forth. The goal for the psychologist or the person who is evaluating the child is to develop a sturdy relationship with that child. Psychotherapy helps rework trauma into a healthier sense of self. PTSD is a huge reality for children who have gone through abuse, and counseling is supposed to teach them how to “identify, reframe, and evaluate the dysfunctional cognitions related to the specific trauma and its sequelae that contribute to the intense negative emotions and behavioral reactions.” One of the methods that’s used in therapy is CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy). In a 2011 study, this way of therapy was effective in improving participant symptomatology, with the eight session condition including the trauma narrative being the most effective when it comes to abuse specific distress and child abuse related fear and general anxiety. EDMR, or eye desensitization and reprocessing is another treatment method. It allows clients to process an emotional experience that the survivor does not feel comfortable talking about as of yet. Directive questioning is used to desensitize the client through brief imagined exposure to the memory that proves traumatic. This method was originally created for adults who suffer from PTSD, but the use of this type of therapy is now an option for children and adolescents. Using an eight phase approach, the therapist will have the survivor recollect distressing images while receiving one of several types of bilateral sensory input like side to side eye movement. Another popular option is group therapy. This is considered the treatment of choice when working with sexually abused adolescents (Lindon). This is an environment in which children can interact with one another; giving them a sense that they aren’t alone; promoting a sense of support. Group therapy provides benefits beyond what individual therapy is able to achieve by providing increased empowerment and psychological well being (Yalom and Lezczc). People have said that it is easier to express their feelings knowing that what they’ve gone through others in the room have gone through at well. Group therapy has shown to reduce feelings of depression and anxiety by significant amounts (Westbury and Tutty). Many ways of healing come with counseling and work socially, but medication can also be given to a child sexual abuse survivor, however, it is not discussed as much as the different modes of therapy listed above. There has always been a debate in terms of medicating children and whether it is necessary; stating that it masks the problem instead of solving it. There is only minimal evidence that shows implementing sertraline, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, caused any clinical improvement for children with comorbid depression. However, there was a significant improvement in people with post-traumatic stress disorder.
In a case study done by Christiana Balan, a faculty member of Psychology and Educational Sciences within Spiru Haret University, she examines Daria, an eleven year old girl born in Rupea, a town in Transylvania, Romania who was sexually abused by her Uncle. During her psychological evaluation, Balan discovered that Daria was exposed to numerous traumatic situations, as well as being neglected by her Mother. In the past, the young girl has also been hospitalized and institutionalized. Due to the circumstances that Daria was in and the actions that were inflicted towards her, she was moved to a safer environment and was forced to undergo an intensive program of psychological counseling. Balan then broke down the process of assessment of this little girl. In the beginning of her treatment, Daria exhibited some of the signs that were mentioned before such as depressive moods and heightened emotions, but towards the end of the assessment, Balan was able to see a change. Over time, Daria was able to establish a healthy relationship with her assessor built on trust and unconditional acceptance. Unfortunately, the young girl exhibited mixed emotional disorder with anxiety-depressive and maladaptive components. She showed emotional lability, low resistance to frustration, excessive crying, and being quite malleable. Psychologically, she was not reaching the maturity levels that most eleven year olds are at. Daria is apart of the concrete operational stage of cognitive development. During this time, Daria and her peers would be able to accurately imagine the consequences of something occurring without it really needing to. Children within the concrete operational stage, they think of “what if” scenarios.
In the case of Daria and people who have been through what she’s been through, in recovery, short term and long term goals are established. For short term goals, mental health professionals want to be able to get the full story of the abuse that took place in the client’s life; the frequency, duration, and the nature of the abuse that took place. Next would be expressing and identifying feelings that stem from the abuse; breaking away from keeping certain information secretive. After that would possibly be telling someone that they trust about the things that have happened. The main thing initially is being honest; with themselves, with their family members, and being honest with their therapist, counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist. Getting rid of shame and guilt would be another goal, as well as reminding them that what took place was nowhere near their fault. Trying to reduce emotional intensity and stabilize unbalanced moods and mindsets. The child needs to learn to build their self-esteem, improve positive social skills, and work on boundaries. Long term goals include stopping sexual victimization in children; controlling emotions and behaviors that come with sexual abuse. Working on acceptance and forgiveness can be hard, but once it is done, the client has unlocked a huge key in healing. Over time, the child should want to overcome the traumatic event, eliminating denial of what has happened. Being able to see themselves in a positive light would be a step towards the right direction.
The long term effects on child sexual abuse survivors depends on the person, as well as the amount of treatment they do or do not get. Some people may exhibit higher levels of depression, guilt, self-blame, shame, somatic concerns, anxiety, dissociative patterns, denial, repression, as well as future relationship problems and sexual problems. Depression is the most common trait that an adult may have after being abused as a child. The survivors may have a habit of thinking negatively about themselves an internalizing their abuse (Hartman). They tend to display more destructive actions years after the abuse, sometimes even blaming themselves for what has happened (Browne and Finklehor). Physical image issues and body dysmorphia can relate to feeling dirty and not whole; picking up disorders such as bulimia nervosa and anorexia (Ratican). Survivors may even resort to physical harm like cutting or body mutilation. Interpersonal relationships can be a difficult task, as the abuse may make the survivor afraid of getting to know new people. This can grow into trust issues, skewed boundaries, passive behaviors, and getting involved in abusive relationships. Abuse survivors may deflect from physical touch all together; fearing intimacy and any sense of commitment. If they are able to go further with sexual experiences, they may not be able to reach orgasm. Sexual abuse survivors were more likely to have erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, or vaginal pain during sex. This can lead to an array of arousal disorders.
When an adult who has suffered through sexual abuse is trying to resolve the issues that have come with it, there are a series of different therapy methods that a mental health professional may introduce. Wendy Maltz in 2001 says that the best way to resolve internal conflict is to locate where the sexual and intimacy issues stem from. Client empowerment; making the person feel safe and worthy of validation. They must gain skills to be immersed into a normal way of life. Sometimes the client may hinder from disclosing information about the attack, whether it be from embarrassment or pride. The mental health professional may help the person engage in beginning healthy relationships with others; platonically and romantically. According to Feinauer in a 1996 study, people who were able to better adjust to relationships has a drop in depression. If the survivor is already in a long term relationship, the professional now takes on the role of teacher; educating their partner on the long term effects of child sexual abuse so that they can actively be apart of the healing process. Counselors can help couples integrate positive and effective communication, trust, respect, and equality in their partnership (Maltz). Sometimes however, the complete opposite occurs. Some people may show extreme sexual pleasures like compulsive sexual behavior, inappropriate seduction, sexualizing every relationship that they make, promiscuity, and sadistic and masochistic fantasies. The survivors must learn to develop a positive sexual self concept, lowering negative sexual tendencies.
Every ninety-two seconds someone is sexually assaulted. Every nine minutes the person is a child. From 2009 to the year 2013, Child Protective Services states that around 64,000 kids a year are molested in the United States; a majority of them being between the ages of twelve and seventeen. 18.34% of children are underneath the age of twelve. These children are thrust into a life that they did not ask for; a life that they did not deserve. Out of one thousand attackers, only five of them are reprimanded…only five. With psychology and science, people are making more efforts to aid people into recovery, while preventing attacks from repeating. More and more people are speaking out; letting their voices be heard and advocating for survivors to speak as well.
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Today’s Affirmations: In A Healing Place
I am in a healthy space
I am where I am supposed to be
I do not fear the future
I do not live by my past
I will keep going
I know I will be successful
I will achieve pure happiness
I will make my younger self proud
It’s never too late to change
I will change for the better
I am excited for what’s to come
I will heal in every way, shape, or form
Everything I need to heal is within me
I will grow positively
I will grow in self-love
You are not your faults or traumatic experiences
I am strong
I am amazing
I can be anything I want to be
I love myself
I love myself
I love myself