When Emotions Are Too Heavy, Put Them Down
I’ve surpassed my “one-year postpartum” milestone (yay?), which means I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about, writing about, and talking about the whirlwind of the past 365 days. I’ll tell you now- there are no magic switches. Not for me anyway. Nothing happened on any timeline that the “experts” said it would. However, I realized that there was a through-line to this experience: grief.
It’s embarrassing to write that because we live in a “you should be so grateful/ this is privileged af” culture. But fuck it- #1 I’ve reflected enough to know that it’s the truth and #2 both are true: I am grateful and grieving.
I wanted it to be another word or another feeling since grief feels so intense. Like it should only be used relative to death. But isn't that kind of symbolic?
My hope for normalcy during pregnancy and postpartum was impossible due to covid.
My hope for my dream birth was impossible due to many factors including severe pre-eclampsia and Zion getting stuck at 6cm.
The sincere belief that I would lose every single pound I gained (all 40 of them) within a few months, only for my body to be like “just kidding!”
And let's not forget actual death: Covid deaths, mass shootings, senseless murders of Black people and members of the AAPI, LGBTQ+, Jewish communities...
It's impossible to be unaffected by the fact that our government is a mess, white supremacists are emboldened and have gone wild, and our planet is burning.
I also feel the weight of personal losses-
Friendships that have disintegrated, not having my dad here to see all of these amazing life moments, and of course the life and freedom I had before Zion.
It's...a lot. And since for the most part our society hates women, we also hate when women complain. We hate when mothers complain. After all, it’s a choice, right? God forbid we be overwhelmed and tired from endless caretaking. Do yourself a favor and google “moms can’t complain” because this is a thing, and it’s toxic.
None of this means I’m not OK, but I have to lean on all of the tools and resources at my disposal in order to feel my feelings, but not let them consume me. In other words, when it gets to be too much, I need to put my emotions down. I don’t have to carry them from moment to moment. It doesn’t make me stronger. I let go of that myth a long time ago.
In the spirit of the solution-oriented, “fix it”, Capricorn that I am (which is kind of a toxic trait but we won’t go there today) I want to share with you some of the things that have given me energy, hope, and joy in the midst of the grief.
Fitness. I know this is a "duh" moment, but hear me out :)
Sometimes, the best thing for you is not going into a class and completely obliterating yourself in order to blackout and not feel or think.
For me, the purpose of using physical movement is not to punish my body or to replace church, therapy, or any other emotional or spiritual practices. It's not to mitigate the calories I consumed.
Fitness contributes to my overall wellness. It's one tool in a toolbox, not the whole damn box! My "why" for working out is longevity, joy, strength, and clarity.
Moving in different ways has helped me immensely during this past year: yoga, pilates, walking, running, lifting, kettlebells, bands, bodyweight, pushing a stroller, hiking, stretching... at the hardest moments, which occurred mainly right after the c-section, I had to let go of what I wanted to do and focus on what I could do. And all I could do was go slow.
Meditation. I know for some of you it makes your skin crawl to think about being still and breathing for extended periods of time. But what if I said you could meditate for 30 seconds? For 60 seconds? For 5 minutes? What if I said you could just consciously breathe? That you don't need to have "no thoughts" or transcendent thoughts. You don't need to be on a cushion or seated in a chair.
Ever have an anxiety attack? You have to breathe. Ever give birth? You have to breathe through contractions. Ever get a massage? They ask you to exhale as the pressure gets applied.
Recently, I signed on to be an ambassador for a company called InsideTracker, and through meditation and yoga, I was able to reduce the levels of cortisol in my body. That's some cool shit!
Breath is the throughline. Remember that. You're already breathing, so focus your energy on each breath. What it feels like coming in through your nose and out of your mouth. How your belly, chest, and back expand. You can do it, I promise.
Talk to someone. It can be a therapist, a close friend, a parent, a spouse, or whomever! Don't hold everything in. Don't gaslight yourself into thinking you're not important enough or your thoughts and feelings aren't worthy. Especially if you’re a woman of color. Especially if you’re a Black woman in America. Girl, put it down and rest.
Thank you for spending a few minutes to vibe with me and my thoughts.
Maybe you see yourself or someone you know in these words, and maybe that allows space for a little bit of comfort knowing that you're not alone.
I'm @blackgirlmagicmama on the 'gram if you want to connect.
What else is up?
What I'm reading: Speak by Tunde Oyeneyin
What I'm watching: Drag Race All Stars
What I'm cooking: Mediterranean Lamb Bowls
My last purchase: Waterproof Phone Pouch
Favorite recent photo: