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I Am My Mother’s Truth: Witnessing and Breaking the Cycle of Generational Trauma

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Mother’s Day is only a week away and I know this holiday holds tender as well as painful reminders of the women who birthed us into this world. It is a time to celebrate the women who raised us, regardless of blood relation. It is  a time for mourning mothers who have passed on. It may also be a time to say goodbye to the women who caused us so much trauma from the time we were born until the present day. Either way, this is a time for pause and reflection now more than ever.

 

This Mother’s day, I reflect on the fact that I am blessed. A descendant of powerful  Brown and Black women who endured and survived slavery, abuse, sexual assault, abortion, racism, poverty, war, and so on. I accept that this generational trauma has been passed onto me and manifests in my life in ways that I have yet to discover. I am declaring that this cycle of trauma ends here, with me.

 

—–

My Mama never fails to remind me, these days, that my sister and I are her miracles. After two abortions she had in secret, her pregnancies with both of us were difficult. With me, she hemorrhaged and was on strict bed rest for most of her pregnancy. With my sister, the inability to eat and constant belly sickness also had her on strict bed rest. Not to mention, my sisters lack of movement in utero that had my parents constantly worried. Turns out she was just always sleeping and it speaks true to her amazing ability and dedication to “hugging the pillow” to this day.

 

We are our mother’s miracles. Inseparable siblings through childhood. Witnessing the joy, pain, and power our mother held within her and endured for us. Receiving her love and her wrath. Always watching. Always learning. Always listening. As my sister and I grew older, we grew apart. We embarked on our own paths and made our own share of mistakes. Still watching. Still learning. Still listening but this time behind our closed bedroom doors.

 

There is something truly fucked up about being young and watching the unraveling of your  Mother in your own home. Navigating the line between keeping your distance and when to intervene. Witnessing my Mother break upon the death of my grandfather and completely fall apart when my own Father’s infidelity ended their 20+ year marriage was too much for me to bare. At the time, I was freshly engaged and ready to take on the next chapters of my life. I chose self preservation over sticking by my Mother through her suffering and left home shortly after my parents decided on separation.

 

—–

Looking back now, I don’t regret putting physical distance between my Mother and I. I don’t regret communicating boundaries or not answering her calls when those set boundaries we’re not respected. I am however, so grateful that I had the discernment to take action before I knew what ending generational trauma was and looked like.

 

With time, space, and meditation I am just now able to identify the ways my behavior, both conscious and unconscious, is a direct reflection of generational trauma manifesting itself within me. In order to break the cycle, I am constantly challenging myself to dig deep and try to find where this all began.

 

I ask myself:

Why am I hanging onto this moment in the past? How does it affect my actions? My thoughts?

 

Where do these feelings of pain live in my body? How can I engage in releasing these physical manifestations of trauma?

 

How does this trauma affect how I move through the world? Is it helping or hindering?

 

How has these traumas affected my relationships both platonic and romantic?

 

If this isn’t serving me and if it isn’t healing me, I need to let it go.

 

———–

 

Breaking the cycle of generational trauma is a difficult and immensely painful process to endure. At times it seems never ending. I have yet to see the light at the end of the tunnel and I often find myself in a constant state of emotional and physical exhaustion. On the other hand, I find myself able to experience joy in new ways and my heart open to receive the kind of love Black femmes like me have only been able to dream about. I am able to breathe with a little more ease. These small seeds of freedom are worth the painfully necessary process of release.

 

As I continue on this journey, I have been given a second chance to really see my mother for who she is. Flaws and all. I have been given the opportunity to put forgiveness into practice and rebuild our relationship. With this new perspective, I finally understand that I am my Mother’s truth. Her living miracle. Her dream of freedom and true liberation. All it took was my willingness to heal for my sake and hers, however long it takes.

 

A Body in Recovery: Finding My Body Post-Abortion

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This time a year ago, I was in recovery after undergoing my first and hopefully only abortion experience. I have clung to this trauma. Held onto this memory for dear life. I have mementos from the day I found out I was pregnant and the day I had my pregnancy terminated. I have forced myself to never forget. I have given myself space to move with this pain and mourn my loss. The time has now come that I let my heart and my body finally recover.

 

When I speak of recovery, I don’t mean the physical process of recovery. I have recovered from my physical abortion procedure. I no longer experience spotted bleeding, cramps, or prolonged fatigue. I am talking about the healing the relationship I have with my body and recovering from the emotional trauma that still lives in physical parts of my body.

 

There are days where I feel the ache of loss in my hips. The stress and worry that comes with mourning in my shoulders. There are also days when I am not even present in my body. A dissociative shell of a human walking and talking. Joyus and sane seeming. My menstrual cycle has finally got itself figured out thankfully, but feeling whole in my body has still got me at a loss.

 

There is no handbook to tell you how to find your way back to yourself after having a taste of the realities of parenthood and feeling your body change as it creates new cells that eventually becomes a person. There is no way to convey how powerless you feel when your body is kicked into full gear to bring forth life when you are far from ready. There is also no resources that tell you that well after you have an abortion, you will not be the same person you once were and how to navigate those feelings.

 

It is a year after my abortion and I am still navigating how to accept my very brave decision to put off parenthood for the time being. I still have plans to be someone’s parent in the future whether I hold them in my womb or hold them in my heart the moment they come into my life. Before any of this happens, I first must find my way back to my body.

 

——–

 

Hold space and talk about it

 

This finding my body business is no easy task. I have done a good deal of the leg work by writing some sad songs about it for my band Wayside Ghost and just making a huge effort to be very open with my abortion story. Talking about it with close friends and other people who have an interest in hearing my story has made holding space for my trauma and unpacking these feelings of grief and loss that much easier to move through and process.

 

Make time to be present in your body

This is something that I really struggle with but I have started off by trying to take a bath at least once a week just to be alone with myself and in turn using the bath water as an aid to really be present with how my body feels in the moment. I have also started to meditate a few times a week. There is nothing like breathing into the body to bring awareness to the places where the stress lives.

 

Eat well and drink some damn water

 

I cannot stress this enough. There is nothing more wholesome than feeding yourself good food and drinking water regularly. It is an act of self love. It is an act of self awareness. It is necessary. It is not something that is an option. If your body and your mind is hungry for healing it also needs the fuel to be able to heal. I understand that sometimes capitalism gets the absolute best of everyone’s struggle and everyone’s wallets but dammit, RESIST! I cannot stress how much better of a relationship with my body and my relationship with food has improved when I just stopped eating shitty food that made me feel shitty on a regular basis. I do, however, give myself room to have some shit food in my life ( damn you Cheezeburgers and Doe Doughnuts!!!).

 

Get moving

 

At this time, I’d like to give a shout out to my loving husband and partner in life Jordan for encouraging me to get to the gym with him. I have a lot of gym anxiety due to the fact that cis-men constantly harass me when I’m alone and because I am small and not strong at all. Nevertheless, I braved the gym and immediately took to the climbing wall. There’s nothing like facing your fear of heights and witnessing yourself climb up a weird plastic cliff to really change your perspective on how damn awesome you can be and how powerful your body truly is.

 

Before I took to the gym like a beast, I started walking my dogs daily after Jordan and I moved back to Portland. Without a yard for the pups to run around, it was up to me to take them out to get exercise. Just being outside and moving around really helped me feel okay and less stagnant.

 

——–

 

There are so many other things that I have yet to try or attempt to help me on my way back to myself, but it is a journey towards my healing that I must take.

 

If you are a person going through the abortion process or are seeking post-abortion support and community, by all means please reach out to folx who are in your corner or even myself. If you know someone who is going through the abortion process or is in need of support, please hold space for them however long the journey towards healing takes. We must take care of each other and hold space for each other’s stories and healing.
xoxo,
Kris

Spring Into New Intentions!

IMG_20180319_115147_164It is the first day of Spring! We made it through this cold Pacific Northwest winter and are hearing the call to wake up and shake off the frost from our bones.

With the wake up comes the reality check of course. I am in the process of taking into account of all the things I want to do and never have time for. I am making note of the things I pour my energy into that aren’t serving me or bringing me the blessings that I so dearly deserve. I am asking myself an array of questions and trying to get to the root of my setbacks.

 

What and whom am I wasting my time on? Do these behaviors and habits I hold space for bring me joy and help me move forward to become my better self? Do I really need to spend my money on this? Is this the kind of community I should be pouring into and visa versa? How much unplugged/ uninterrupted time for myself have I set aside? With this further my vision I have for my life?

 

All of these questions are really hard for me to answer for myself, but these are necessary questions that need an answer if we are to continue living in our truth and striving for a best life lived.

 

————

 

If I am to truly be honest about where I am at, on this first day of spring, I am just scraping the surface of tapping into being more aware about the things I pour my soul into and the people I surround myself with. I have also been working way too much at my day job and have not set aside enough time to really immerse myself in my creative projects. The reality is that bills don’t pay themselves and errands aren’t just magically done. I see this reality of “Adulting” and how it plays a role in my life and my survival. I still, however, need to disrupt the best way I know how: by holding space for my people and creating works that represent us.

 

With that being said, I am being really intentional about how I manage my time and energy and whom I spend it with. I want to manifest immense joy in my life and in the lives of others and this means overcoming fears and doubt. This also means doing things that I normally wouldn’t have the motivation to do as an act of love for myself.  

 

It’s time to turn the daydreams into actual realities and maybe even say yes to an opportunity or 5 that will push you in the right direction. Happy spring!

Love and Solidarity,
 Kris

 

The Act of Release

 

re·lease

rəˈlēs/

verb

  1. allow or enable to escape from confinement; set free.
  2. allow (something) to move, act, or flow freely.

noun

  1. the action or process of releasing or being released.

 

    We are now entering the third week of the new year and those of us who have set intentions to fully engage in our healing are being put to the test. Old coping mechanisms that never served us are looking pretty damn nice and as the sun surfaces and hides behind winter clouds, so does our trauma and hang ups.

 

    As a queer Black femme, release does not come easy. My trauma and my anger move and live within my body in such a way that it is nearly impossible to separate myself from it. I feel the weight of it when I move. I hold it in when it surfaces. It has made me stiff and ridged. It suffocates me from time to time. Living in constant pain physically and mentally due to trauma is no way to live. So, I decided that this is the year that I take action in my own healing. After all, my healing is my responsibility in the first place.

 

    If I had a dollar for every time my deeply buried trauma made itself known at the worst possible time because I wouldn’t deal with said trauma, I would actually be able to pay for quality therapy. Let’s be real though. Most of us Black folx are out here trying to make a buck to pay our bills and therapy is not something we can afford to spend our small amount of resources on. So, when times are tough, we must rely on ourselves and each other to heal and move forward on to bigger and better things.

 

This is my current praxis of release this year:

 

Acknowledge It

 

    It is imperative that we sit with our wounds and move through the motion of feeling our pain. We must acknowledge the existence of our pain instead of pushing it deep into ourselves, ignoring its presence.

 

Name It

 

    If we are to move forward in our healing, we must first call out our pain, our trauma, our hang ups by name. We must say it out loud when we are alone. We must make it known with those who we call family and community because we cannot heal on our own.

 

Release It

 

     Let it go. Cry about it. Breathe it out. Stretch out the parts of our bodies where it lives. Perform a ritual of release. Talk about it with a trusted friend or lover. Sing it out. Write it down. Be proactive.

 

    It is important to know that engaging in release is going to be a painful process. It is not pretty. It is not fun. It is, however, necessary if we plan on making big moves in our lives personally and professionally. The things that do not serve us and the things within our hearts that continue to cause us harm will always hold us back.

 

    If 2018 is a year you intend on making change for yourself, release is mandatory. Healing is mandatory. Without these things, how will you ever be and feel truly free?

 

No Resolutions

2018 is finally here and I welcome it with an open and full heart!

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Every New Year, we as a collective of people living and surviving on this earth traditionally set goals upon goals for ourselves to attempt to achieve. We start off January 1st running out of the previous year wrecked from the bullshit expecting life altering changes when we haven’t put in the work towards healing ourselves first. If we are to thrive in our lives and be ready for the goodness and blessings we have set on manifesting for ourselves, we must take the time to rest, reflect, and move through the pain that continuously keeps us from moving forward.

 

There is growth in recognizing and confronting the things and the people that hurt us. There is healing in moving through the motions of that pain in order to fully release it.

 

In this year of 2018 I invite you to have no resolutions but take action in engaging with your own healing so you can receive all the blessings and good news that comes your way. I implore you to let in the community that wants lift you up. There is power in vulnerability. I urge you to invest your energy in the relationships and the things that keep your soul nourished. There is healing in letting yourself just be loved on. I plead with you to let go of the coping mechanisms that keep you stationary and hold no space for you to grow. There is clarity when you let go of what isn’t actually serving you.

 

2018 is the year you do what you say and say what you mean. You don’t have time to babble in circles when you should be blazing trails.

 

2018 is the year you put imposter syndrome to rest. You know you’re fly as fuck and capable of great things.

 

2018 is the year your relationships (platonic and romantic) grow stronger because you will actively let people in. You aren’t unloveable. Let yourself be loved.

 

I want to wish you all an amazingly prosperous New Year. Here’s to manifesting our futures together towards our collective liberation.

 

xoxo,

Kris

 

Radical Self Preservation: A Literary Hug for the PNW Black and Brown babes

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The intention of this work is to encourage and give some kind of tangible tool for surviving the Pacific Northwest while Black and Brown. All of us are out here in these streets living our lives, working in our communities, and fighting for the space and acknowledgement we deserve. As important as it is to stay strong and keep pushing forward, we often forget about the necessity of self preservation. I hope this work gives you the encouragement to protect your energy and  give you ideas on where to begin your path towards healing.

 

Self care:

 

   Self care is an important factor in maintaining our bodies and souls so we can continue putting in the work needed to better our communities and ourselves. Putting self care into practice is more than just a trip to the nail salon, Netflix and chill with your fine ass self, or going out to the club with the homies. Self care is also buying yourself food for the week if you can afford it, cleaning your living space, sending those important emails, doing your laundry,etc. Self care is doing the things that need to be done so you can breathe, relax, and set some time and space aside for yourself to recharge. It is so important to maintain some kind of balance in our lives so we can be our best selves and live our best lives.

 

   Let’s be real though, keeping the balance is easier said than done. Many of us lead very busy lives, struggle with mental illness, or experience a wide spectrum disabilities that make even the simplest acts of self care daunting or impossible. Heck, even the state of just existing in a racist, classist, white supremacist society that would rather see us dead ,makes self care seem pointless if you’re gonna be back at square one tomorrow after reading the news.

 

   The truth is, self care is hard but it is necessary to our very survival as Black and Brown people.

We are in this together even when we are recharging apart.

 

checklist for the heavy hearted:

 

-leave your bed, even if it’s hard.

-drink water.

-eat something. anything. (you will thank yourself later)

-shower and take deep breaths. it’s okay if you’re just running water and doing breathing exercises

– Dress yourself. No pressure. Wear at least one thing that makes you feel good.

-leave your house if you are able. if you don’t have work, go on a walk, bring water, get a hot beverage. Listen to your favorite music. Call a friend.

 

-Run an errand or a few if you have the energy. Breathe.

-Eat something. drink water.

-Choose your own adventure

-choose your own adventure

-choose your own adventure

-Have a snack/Make dinner/Drink water

-Do a chore or two if you have the energy

-Wind down. read a book, craft, watch a movie, breathe

-Sleep. If you have trouble sleeping drink calming tea, breathing exercises, or high CBD cannabis is helpful.

 

Community Care Checklist:

 

-call each other/Check in/hold space

-Offer your skills,money,resources, or your time

-Stay updated on healthcare ins/outs so we can help each other get the care we need

– have low key dinner parties

 

Self Love

 

   Loving yourself is a fucking task. As Black and Brown folx up against the Eurocentric ideals of beauty, culture, and behavior, we waste a lot of time picking ourselves apart to fit the mold even when we don’t realize we are. These acts of assimilation or trying to adapt/ fit in, is truly damaging to ourselves and our communities. We are a vibrant, rhythmic, and magical people. Our shine constantly at risk of being maimed by the grubby claws of seasonless culture vultures a.k.a White folx. I am here to tell you that the fuck shit stops now.

 

   Your dark skin, negro lips, indigenous nose, native tongue, bushy brows, wide hips, the way you pop your gum, the side eye you serve, big bamboo hoops, nameplate necklace, the way you speak, and your very existence is a radical act of self love. Read that again and let it moisturize your skin. Let it soften your hardened heart.

 

   The movement of your feet and hips to drum and bass is a lullaby. The way you roll your neck and sip your tea is poetry. The way we gather at the table and raise our voices loud and high is healing. Let it hydrate your soul. Let it oil your scalp.

 

    To engage in self love as Black and Brown folx is to live dangerously. It is the sweetest kind of risk. A fulfilling kind of rebellion. We invoke fear into the hearts of those who see us as commodities, trends, and experiences when we reject and remove their hands from around our throats. Let us lift each other up. Look ourselves in the mirror and stop cutting into our skin looking for something White underneath.

 

Self Love Affirmations:

 

-My gender is mine and no one else’s

-I deserve love

-I deserve understanding and empathy

-I deserve happiness

-I deserve to be paid for my time and emotional labor

-I am bae as fuck

 

Radical acts of self love:

-being loud

-being unapologetic in your Blackness/Brown-ness

-drinking water

-minding your business

-moisturizing your skin

-Reading books to challenge your mind

-Trying something new

-failing and getting back up again

-Surrounding yourself with your people

-dancing

-singing

-laughing

-crying

-dragging problematic white folx

-eating your favorite food

-reclaiming the fashions, aesthetics, and cultures of your people/ancestors

 

Engaging in growth:

 

   We are in a constant state of learning and unlearning when we take part in self love and care. We decide what methods serves us on our paths towards healing and discover what kind of community we need in our lives to be our best selves. However, we cannot become our best selves if we do not engage in our own growth.

 

   Growth is painful, challenging, and so fucking uncomfortable. It puts us in a corner and forces us to choose between our bad habits, toxic behaviors, self deprecation, lies that the White man told us and the hard but necessary steps towards liberation and actually living your best life. White supremacy and intersecting oppressions aside, we will always be our biggest roadblock.

 

   It is important to take time to really sit and reflect on who we are in this moment, our goals and dreams, and the ways that we hold ourselves back from doing what we need to do to glo up and advocate for ourselves. For some of us that means taking time away from social media/staying in/making time to just sit with ourselves and reflect. For others that means actually taking the steps to better our mental health/ make a plan for healing. It could also mean that maybe you have fallen down the rabbit hole of substance abuse and finally need to actively seek out help. Whatever path you need to take, be intentional and make those steps. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for help. We are, after all, in this shit together.

 

   For those of us who have found a good balance in our lives and are continuously learning and growing actively, we need to be patient with those in our community who are still learning. Not everyone will be on our level of “Wokeness” or whatever bullshit you wanna call it. We are blessed to have arrived at this place in our lives where we can be self aware, check ourselves, and help people on their path. However, that does not give us a right to be gatekeepers. We must be careful of the way we speak to each other and the language we use. It is awesome that we have all of this knowledge and gained some kind of access to higher learning. Still, we must remind ourselves that this knowledge and the language it clings to, is rooted in classist and colonialist ideologies of the academy aka University. Decolonize your language, practice patience with our own people, and remember where you were all those years ago when you were just becoming radicalized. This is your growth challenge.

 

Unplug / Step Back:

 

   Let’s be real for a second. We as people with phones and computers have continuous access to the the internet and consequently, too much nonconsensual access to each other. We are smack dab in the middle of the age when we are encouraged to put all our business out into the digital void for all to see, hear, and form an opinion on.  That to me is WILD AS FUCK!

 

   The internet is hella great in many ways, but when you find yourself unable to connect with people in your own community without a screen and a keyboard as a buffer, you have a problem on your hands. When you find yourself unable to sleep, unable to breathe because random Trevors and Beckys keep poppin onto your page flappin their chapped bottom lips with some fuckshit at 3am and you just have to respond to them, you’ve got a problem on your hands. When you’re too focused on swiping right or left on tinder/grinder to notice the fine ass QTPOC that has showed up at the coffee place you frequent 4 days in a row with hopes of somehow catching your eye, you indeed have a fucking problem.

 

   It is time for you to unplug friends. Pick up a book, knit some shit, doodle, journal, do something that isn’t making you pick up your phone or mindlessly scrolling through Facebook or Instagram. Take the time you unplug to actually work on projects you said you would start months ago. Have tea with a friend and challenge each other to not even look at your phones. Get comfortable being with yourself without any distractions. Talk with people at the function that you don’t know instead of sitting in the darkest corner scrolling on your phone.

 

Do yourself a solid and unplug.  

Even for an hour.

Even for 15 mins.

Even Just to breathe

 

Don’t Procrastinate! Don’t second guess!….DO THE THING!

 

      

         How many times have you put off making that super cool idea you had for a zine, workshop, or event from happening? In what ways have you put yourself down or told yourself that your ideas, your inspirations are just dumb and not worth anyone’s time? Have you caught yourself wishing you were doing cool things or living your best life like some folx on the internet as you scroll through your feed at 3am?

 

STOP!

 

      Your ideas, your work, your efforts are valid and so very important! As Black and Brown folx we have no time to waste on feeling inadequate or under qualified to do something amazing. Recognize that this mode of thought is a manifestation of internalized oppression taught to us as children and it is high time that you don’t let it break you down or prevent you from living your best damn life. You deserve to live your best life and.

 

     Pull yourself out of bed. Start showing up for yourself. Start showing up for your work. Be the representation 8 year old you would have needed to thrive. Lead that workshop that will create a change in your community. Make that zine that could bring you healing and maybe bring others healing as well. Raise your voice. You are worthy of recognition and praise. You deserve the credit for your work. Don’t let the imposter syndrome hold you back.

 

      I know it is extremely hard out here for Black and Brown folx to be living in the whitest part of the United States right now. I know this little article is highly optimistic but, I am so tired of seeing my people suffer in this place. I am, after all, a Pisces with an ocean of optimism and love to give. Here I am giving it to you, praying that it gives you life.