It’s been kind of quiet around here for the last few days. I haven’t felt like writing and to me it seemed that anything I wrote would be inauthentic if I didn’t write about a particular subject: Michael Brown and Ferguson, MO.
Like most of you, whether you’re interested or disinterested, I’m aware of the decision not to indict the officer that killed Michael Brown. Now, I won’t pull any punches or beat around the bush on this matter, so it’s important to know that the verdict really put me in a bad place. This time, what I was feeling went beyond anger and got right down to pain and sorrow. I cursed, questioned humanity and bawled my eyes out over yet another tragedy involving our Black children. And honestly, I expected that to be the end of it. I expected to pray for peace for Michael Brown’s family and have deep conversations with my husband, friends and family about what we could do, if anything.
But that didn’t happen. Instead, I stayed in this weird space between sheer rage and unexplainable sadness. I was dragging. Energy depleted. No good to no one. I watched and listened to commentary from people I thought I knew. The terms “thug” and “criminal” were thrown around so much and so passionately that I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe I was missing something here. Folks that I had known for years were, in essence, showing their true colors. Emotionally drained would have been an understatement.
Today, I’m a little better. The pain that I feel for Michael Brown’s family and the absolute despair that I feel for this country continues to weigh heavily on me, but I’ve been doing my best to practice self-care through it all.
Tips on Practicing Self-Care During a Tragedy
- Feel whatever it is that you feel–Whether it’s anger, sadness, pain or even joy, you have a right to feel however it is that you feel. Too many times, we think (or people tell us) that we’re supposed to feel a certain way when something happens. Or better yet, that we should have no feelings at all. Or that what we’re feeling is somehow wrong. Nope, not the case. As a living, breathing, feeling human being, feel what’s there and embrace that. It’s the only way that you can actually go deeper to a level of analysis and eventual acceptance.
- Know your limits. Impose your limits.–As someone who already has a limit on the amount of social media that she can take in, I’ve had to be especially mindful of my limits for the last few days. No matter how much I wanted to respond to the detractors, the folks who felt that it was okay to morph #blacklivesmatter into #alllivesmatter, and the folks hollering, “What about Black on Black crime,” I knew that doing so would have pushed me beyond my limits and only made me feel worse. So I shared where I could, educated when possible and deleted when necessary. Do the same.
- Do what makes you feel better–When you’re in a really, really bad place, it can seem like there is literally nothing that can pull you from that. It’s like you can smile, but what’s the point if your insides are crying. I know because I’ve been there. And I’ve figured out that a lot of the reason why I’ve been there (and stayed there for so long) is because I’ve tried to get happy, instead of getting better. While grabbing and reading a book may not make me “happy,” it does make me better and puts me in a better place than when I started.
- Don’t do what makes you feel worse–This one is tough on several levels, as there are things that we’re obligated to do that make us feel worse about everything we’re going through. I loathed dragging myself into work on the Tuesday after it was decided that Michael Brown’s killer wouldn’t be held accountable. I had no patience for “just another day.” I had to do it though. What I didn’t have to do was entertain racist people and entertain their racist commentary. What I didn’t have to do was attend events for the sake of obligation, if I knew that doing so would cause me more hurt than healing. One of the best ways to practice self-care is to practice self-preservation.