It is only until I smell a certain smell, or pass a certain block, or hear a certain name, that my world crumbles. Almost instantaneously, I remember. Under the surface of every day activities, routines and successes, lays trauma. A whole lot of it.
As I move throughout my life, it sometimes feels like I can feel the weight of my ancestors on my shoulders. Specifically my grandmas. Hyacinth, the mother of five who worked single handedly as a nurse to bring each child from Buff Bay, Jamaica to America, one by one. Aicha, also a mother five from the Imtoga tribe in Essouira, Morocco. I think about how I dont know much about them besides how much they struggled. Their struggle with men, struggle to provide for their family, struggle to give their children a better life. I think about the weight of their struggle, I can literally feel it at times. It sits on my shoulders, makes my back cave, and prompts a stream of tears down my face. I wonder if anyone else can feel the weight of others like this.
Ive only been in Morocco for 48 hours and my return has triggered the rembrencance of all these feelings. With that remembrance comes the tool-kit I created while I was away at boarding school, a list of things that made me feel better when things absolutely sucked. Long showers, facemasks, talking to girlfriends, guided meditations and yoga to name a few. As I intentionally reunite with these activities I remember the power in knowing yourself; what makes you feel good and bad, being able to hear your body, and having self respect.
To me, self respect sounds like listening to my needs, honoring my boundaries, removing myself from things that drains me. It looks like having a routine, noticing when I get irritable and implementing activities throughout my day to reset my nervous system. Self respect looks like rest.
I imagine a world where my grandmothers rested. Where rest was apart of their daily routine. I imagine their feet up in the air, pillows under their back and the sun kissing their face. I imagine Hyacinth crocheting endless blankets and clothing for her children, not because she needed to but because she loved to crochet and she simply had the time. I see Aicha giving herself tender scalp massages with a homemade blend of argan and olive oil for her beautiful hair. These images are transformative. The guilt I feel when I rest melts away. The to-do list that is forever engraved into my brain burns. My heart beams at the thought of these two queens resting. I want to join them as they relax.
What is in your tool kit? What makes you feel better what everything sucks?
Repeat after me. I give myself permission to rest. I rest for my ancestors who could not. I choose rest intentionally because I deserve it.