Awake to the Pain

Garden nasturtium at a black fence. Panorama

Many of us have been awash in pain as we process the recent tragedies.

The pain that we are feeling is not new. Marginalized people have been feeling it for longer than we imagine. Ancestors knew it. It is woven into the fabric of who we are, individually and collectively.

For those of us with more privilege, this pain has been something that we could choose to feel or not. To move towards justice for marginalized people, this can no longer be a choice.

When we let in pain and injustice — including the trauma we have experienced directly and vicariously, the ways we have participated or been complicit in harm, the shame of feeling hopeless in the face of so much suffering—our feelings are intense and complicated. Our hyper-vigilance may be activated; our defenses may be up. We may feel separate or disregarded. Our rage might feel impossible to contain.

This is all painful, and beyond difficult.

So, why talk about it here? Because becoming present to our true selves, to our most difficult feelings, and claiming space as we are, without apology, is our central concern at Be Nourished. Sonya Renee Taylor of The Body Is Not An Apology recently said:

“We talk about marginalization and oppression as a very specific thing at The Body Is Not an Apology—we call it Body Terrorism. And we call it Body Terrorism very intentionally. Because the reality is: to wake up everyday wondering whether or not if I call a suicide hotline, the police are going to come and kill me, is an act of terrorism on someone’s body. To go to a hospital and not be certain that you are going to get the care that you need for your autoimmune disease because your physician has bias as to whether you’re fat, or you’re a person of color, or you’re trans is a terroristic society to live in.”

Body terrorism, the targeting, blame and mistreatment of people based on bias, ignorance, hate and power differentials, requires our attention, voices and actions.

The events of our world are calling upon us to stay with our discomfort. The culture we live in has taught us a myriad of ways to evade presence to what is happening and sink, become small, become numb or not feel.

We think the world needs you to feel. We believe you need this from you too.

There may be many times that you find yourself at the crossroads, feeling that this is all too much to take, that you are not enough to handle it, that you can’t possibly stay present to all of this. We want to offer suggestions for caring for yourself with gentleness. With kindness. With the kind of compassion that reminds you that you belong here.

Taking care of yourself, honoring your body’s yes’s and no’s is the truth to follow, when possible. This is what allows us to persevere, to continue to show up for others and ourselves.

When it feels like too much, you might choose to:

  • Ask yourself…
    • Have I eaten?
    • Do I need to sleep?
    • Can I gift myself (guilt-free) down time?
    • Am I hydrated?
  • Express yourself. To a friend, a family member, a pet. In an email. In an old journal. If it feels excruciating, set a timer. Let it all out. Let it really fly.
  • Observe something that is alive. A tree, a squirrel, the birds, a flower, an ant in your kitchen. Not good or bad. Just living.
  • Take the proverbial deep breath. Or try box breathing.
  • Ask someone to listen to you.
  • Read a poem that gives you life. Or a favorite quote.
  • Scream, yell, kick.
  • Turn the music up. Or off.
  • Move – walk, dance, get in water, stretch, have sex.
  • Find a space inside your body that feels tumultuous. Describe it.
  • Find an opposite space inside your body that feels calm. Describe it.
  • Make eye contact when you are out in the world.
  • Ask someone how they are doing.
  • Tell yourself or someone else: “Darling, I care about the suffering.”
  • Allow for a moment of silence. Or disconnect from triggers (such as social media) so that you may refuel yourself to be present again.

In solidarity and with love,
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