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The Bonus Season: The Satisfaction of Surviving and Healing What is Unseen

Well, I’ll be damned--- it is truly yours for the asking. To name and claim it— a true healing. Where has Forrest been? At length, I’m asking and desperately seeking answers to the question myself. My podcast was supposed to be a restorative outlet; however, immediately turned into a mirror reflecting where I have lacked the work for my mental wellness. There are moments where I have detached so well— effortlessly dissociated from my physical body that my podcast genuinely summoned me to become more present, openminded, openhearted and to soften my heart in ways, directly challenged me to unpack my unaddressed feelings. After the passing of my maternal grandmother— I wholeheartedly diminished myself in size. A size/version of myself I had not, nor still can identity— The disillusion of growth is a part of the functionality of surviving, in a silo— possibility because so many of us find dysfunction as familiar and not foreign. I grew up in a heavily church-centered community and as an active child at the center of Black religious circles— from prophecies from strangers and long-time family friends, shared and individual visions to the laying of hands or waking up to aunts praying over you and speaking in tongue. In my adult life, I recognized I can’t truly fellowship with a lot of folks because of the impact of hurt, and unaddressed harm, that is still felt and so present; yet, unseen by so many and at times, even myself. The Bonus Season of Favorite Librarian, the Podcast is a true stream of consciousness and a level of vulnerability I struggled to muster up and have used the leftover strength to record, and to share that truth. With my constant anxiety always nearby— I am convinced the “unnatural feelings and thoughts” I was once told I would have to live with is a “mental roommate” I can evict. I believe in the specific--- that intolerant sacred and religious rhetoric and questionable cultural practices I once believed in were the walls I lived behind. Southeast Georgia is home—a great deal of life spent there after dad’s time in the military. Ironically, my parents were married for almost 13 years before I—their first-born child, came along. So, waking up in rural South Georgia and hearing the Pace or Clark Sisters before the sun honestly finished rising or the smell of olive oil being used to bless— with vociferous prayers and chants, as a praying oil to mark the doors and heads of everyone in the home--- some things have always found a meaning and place, to me at least— whether completely understood or desired. When I arrived to the conclusion of opening myself and sharing my healing journey with this Bonus Podcast Season, there were three songs that play in my head when I can’t make sense of the present time or have the ability to properly ground myself… “Blessed and Highly Favored” by the Clark Sisters “He Keeps on Doing Great Things for Me” by LaShun Pace “Center Thy Will” The Clark Sisters I can listen to those songs on repeat for days at a time and the heaviness of shame can still cheat the satisfaction of surviving— so easily; yet, those soothing songs push me to the next day. And this is simply the introduction… the meat and potatoes are next.

................................................................................................. Healing: The Angry Part of Trauma and Wrestling with Ourselves As a Black queer femme living in the south—I would not want to live anywhere else. I know returning home for me isn’t entirely safe. As I try to redefine Blackness, Queerness, and femmehood as revolutionary acts— I’m constantly grouped with “Otherness” in many familiar environments that I once called Home. A part of my healing journey was learning to trust myself, with myself. Trust myself in places I believe was nests for family and loved ones; yet, entirely for same thinking individuals, without comprehensible knowledge of self. From forcing myself to engage in emotional intimacy instead of running away from trauma but accurately trauma was present in new or occurring experiences. Ultimately the fear of processing grief, aided by some survivor’s guilt in spite of surviving kept me stagnant and under the illusion that I was making substantial progress. Impact, harm, hurt, or even abuse— the body keeps score, and my body was ready to articulate things I had not found words for. The voluntary erasure of my sexuality, existence and identity contributed to self-harm. To avoid societal stigma, I was socially isolating myself from folks that wanted to authentically connect with, actively listen to and love on, me. ................................................................................................. Questioning my Emotional Safety: Rediscovered Self in New Environment Now, it’s been a year and some change since I published a blog post on my platform. So, this post goes deeper than usual. Within the hiatus, I’ve learned to better rest in my body and control my ability to jump to conclusions. I can use my time and emotions in other ways to support myself, my tribe and readers. The titles I have shared on season ii of my podcast have supported me in the “Fight, flight, freeze and fawn” exploration and its effect--- and why I unconsciously lean more into one than the other. It’s been a process where I’ve beautifully found resources within my community and prioritized community building as a need to refill my cup and to recharge. Knowing when to name harm and verbalizing a need or help has helped me not to regress or hide behind the harm I have lived with or run away from. Detaching myself from the idea and identity of harm and hurt—was ultimately one of the first steps. Obtained from my childhood, the silence of playing your role came from the love I expected after volumes of mental labor, paying an invisible and emotional toll or worse— expecting to be loved after accomplishing or finally having something of significance. With conditions and warrants to exist, it contributed to an environment I consciously brought with me.. everywhere I went. The ability to be physically seen and heard; yet, unobserved because of the emotional distance I established to survive, to have something for myself and to protect myself in a offensive matter. The tragedy of being powerlessness and the harm from not addressing what holds us hostage is a part of the weight we carry and believe we are hiding so well. ................................................................................................. Shame: The Silence of Being Alone and Erasure of Self How did I get myself out of this bullshit? Let’s unpack the difference first—Validation and permission vs. Building confidence, to affirm. After years and weeks of therapy and internal dialogue, I realized I need to grow the confidence within myself. That grace and love comes from within—an allowance of self to succeed or make a mistake and still be taken seriously. I know what it looks and feels like surviving within the marginals. It’s exhausting. The usage of shame and how it saturates our ability to express, love and be loved. So, if I wanted to be taken seriously in all expressions of Forrest— unhealed shame and trauma, combined with substances, is a recipe for addiction. So I had to learn moderation, self-control and discipline. Whether it be a season of isolation or moments of reflection that leave me speechless— progress is not linear but each step is vital. Like many Queer folk, we all experience a second adolescence. I may still be going through my second adolescence... in my 30's. And that’s okay—I now have the tools to better support and elevate my thinking for peace and love.

In this journey and with my growth, I’ve realized I have more authority, power, and love in my life— to cherish, have, keep and share. May this Bonus season of my podcast contribute to the confidence in, and joy of, many others.


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