My Journee to Self Love

To fall in love with yourself is the first secret to happiness.

Robert Morely

In 7th grade English my teacher gave out assigned seats. My assigned seat was in front of this young white male. He began throwing small balls of paper at me during class. I turned around to tell him to stop and he advised me to go back to Africa. Annoyed by his ignorance I quickly reminded him that America would be boring without black people. He laughed and agreed and made a snarky comment about black people being entertaining. I rolled my eyes and turned back around in my seat and he continued to throw paper at me. Finally after an hour I picked a few paper balls up and threw them back at him.

Our English teacher yelled at me and gave me dentition. I was flabbergasted. I couldn’t understand why the guy who I’ll call Liam could make racial comments and harass me all class, but I ended up with detention. The teacher told me if I didn’t react I wouldn’t have gotten into trouble, acknowledging that he knew what was going on but still chose to only punish me. The teacher also moved Liam from behind me to across from me to the very next row over.

After the my initial encounter with Liam I really disliked him. He annoyed every fiber of my being. The next day in English class Liam told me that he thought I was beautiful. Liam was confusing, but he was also the first male to tell me I was beautiful. I didn’t say thank you to Liam because I figured he was joking but a part of me oddly felt good. I felt happy that someone other than myself appreciated my beauty. Someone didn’t think I was the weird fat black girl.

From the first time he called me beautiful I started developing strange feelings for Liam. He was tall with blonde hair and blue eyes your typical all America boy. From the first time Liam called me beautiful he never stopped. He rubbed my arms and held my hands during class. I made sure to always wear a short sleeve shirt to English. Then one day he told me he loved me. I didn’t say it back because I was afraid to and I didn’t understand my feelings. Honestly I felt liked I loved Liam too but we were kids who knew nothing about love. I knew nothing about expressing myself or my feelings.

One day I dropped my pen and asked Liam to pick up the pen for me.

“Call me master” Liam said jokingly

One of our other white male classmates overheard Liam and advised him that his comment was too far. I was in complete shock. I couldn’t believe that Liam actually said that to me. I was so hurt and couldn’t believe I allowed myself to be apart of his slave fantasy. I felt so ashamed and so stupid. I left out the classroom and refused to come back. I did not care about the consequences.

The English teacher wrote me up and I was sentenced to a week of detention and a week of in school suspension at lunch. My parents also punished me by grounding me for a week and beating me. I felt so dumb the consequences didn’t matter to me I was numb and heartbroken.

After I healed from the beating, completed detention and in school suspension I was right back in English across from Liam. However I had nothing to say to him. He apologized profusely but I hated him.

Then one day a few weeks into me ignoring Liam like he never existed to me he stopped me in the hallway after lunch. He apologized again this time he looked me in the eyes. I felt like he was hurting and sincerely apologetic.

“Baby girl I’m sorry. I love you” he said and then he hugged me.

I melted in his arms and laid my head on his chest. The moment was perfect. I didn’t tell him I loved him but I did. I didn’t tell him I forgave him but I did. I loved him calling my baby girl. It made me feel special.

I didn’t think he was racist at the time I just thought he was a product of his environment. Living in a predominantly white area sometimes people used racial slurs or said racist things they would later apologize for and I was used to that. Honestly we were kids, and even at a young age I realized kids aren’t born racist or hateful. Kids are taught those behaviors. My parents would have died if they knew I was in love with a white guy. We were kids and I told myself he had to be taught that behavior. I didn’t blame him I blamed the word. I still blame the world.

That strange dynamic between us lasted all the way through high school. One day I thought he cared for me and the next day someone was telling me he said he would never date a black girl. I would be hurt or sad but I never stopped loving him. He was the first guy to make me feel beautiful.

Fast forward to present day I discussed Liam and the roll that he played in my young life with my therapist. I told her once again how Liam made me feel. She paused and said “let’s be clear Liam said some pretty awful hurtful racist things to you. Let’s acknowledge the toxic role he played in your life”.

I felt so dumb once again. I credited Liam with making me feel beautiful and helping me love myself. I never really acknowledged the toxic role Liam played in my life. I found that since Liam I continued to gravitate towards men who hurt me or men who are mean to me. I attracted men who were prone to anger. It’s almost like I think I deserve a man who in one breath will tell me I’m beautiful and god’s gift to the world, but in the next breath tell me I’m worthless.

I am a work in progress and I realize that I have to 100 percent love myself before I can expect anyone to love me. I realize my worth and I have made a promise to myself to heal from past traumas. I made a promise to myself to always know my worth and never settle for less. It’s so cliche but love isn’t supposed to hurt you or break you.

EMDR Therapy

Be brave enough to heal yourself even when it hurts

-Bianca Sparacino

I was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and depression by my therapist. I told myself that those were just medical titles that really didn’t describe me. However, after much thought I decided to work with my therapist to help myself heal from my past traumas. I decided that I didn’t want to be anxious or depressed anymore. I want to be the best version of myself possible.

My therapist and I decided to start an intensive form therapy called EMDR to start the healing process. EMDR therapy “is a phased, focused approach to treating traumatic and other symptoms by reconnecting the client in a safe and measured way to the images, self-thoughts, emotions, and body sensations associated with the trauma, and allowing the natural healing powers of the brain to move toward adaptive resolution.” My therapist advised me that we would be creating a timeline of my life starting from my earliest memories to find out how my past traumas have affected me, and to start the healing process.

My therapist also introduced the concept of “parts” to me. She advised me that we all have three parts the exiles, managers, and the distractors. The three parts main goal is to protect your true self. The exiles hold the pain, and shame of the past. The exiles are the vulnerable part that often holds negative beliefs based on painful past experiences.

The managers run daily life, are proactive, and work to contain the exiles by staying in control of events and relationships. The managers protect our inner world. Mangers control every relationship and situation in order to protect us from feeling hurt and rejected. 

The distractors (also known as firefighters) are reactive and will work to put the fire (pain) out when an triggered exile erupts past a manager. The distractors also protect our system, but often to soothe or distract vulnerable parts of our being.

The true self is the center or core of our being. Our divine essence. In other words, our true self is the best version of ourself. It is scary to me to think that at almost 30 I have not become my true self.

Often the exiles hold shame, grief, loss, rage dependency, and loneliness. My exile part holds my depression. I realize that I often feel like I am not good enough, or like I am an outsider. I feel unprotected in the world and in my life. I realized that all those feelings that I hold inside are because of my exiles. On the inside I am a hurt little girl that just wants to love and be loved unconditionally.

The manger part is also known as the warrior or the planner. The mangers are the inner critic and the inner judge. The managers is also the caretaker, controller, striver, and passive pessimist. My manger side is very controlling, extremely critical, and paranoid. My manger part is also a go getter, and goal driven. I am never satisfied with anything in life, and I always feel like I can do better. I noticed this more in college when I would be angry with myself for earning A’s or B’s. I always want to earn a perfect 100 or a A+. While I work, I noticed that I always must be the best. During my last work evaluation my manger ranked me as “exceeds” after my first year of work. Still I left that evaluation wondering how I could improve or be better. Good is not good enough for me I must be perfect. I strive for perfection and sometimes that is a draining way to live.

The distractor part is also known as the firefighter and is reactive. The distractor part is often the part that displays addictive behaviors or dangerous behaviors. For example, obsessive shopping, binge eating, extreme drug or alcohol use, or dangerous sex practices. My distractor side is combative, defensive, vindictive, devious, and non-compromising. I also have a pretty bad shopping habit I’m addicted to buying new shoes. I am also addicted to buying different health products like various vitamins supplements. I am very defensive or quick to react. My distractor part is always in overdrive trying to protect me. I realize that I am noncompromising combative because I don’t want to feel weak. I always want to be in control of my life. I realized that underneath my tuff exterior I am just a girl who is afraid to get hurt.

Although this whole process is a bit scary, I am excited to find my true self. I am excited to drop all my emotional baggage and become the best Janay I can be. I would encourage everyone to go to therapy. I hope that everyone reading this will start their journey to finding their true self.

Below I attached my parts chart. Create one at home to see how your parts play a role in your everyday life.

Reference : https://www.psycom.net/emdr-therapy-anxiety-panic-ptsd-trauma/

Mind Games


Mind Games

“The bravest thing I’ve ever done is continuing to live when I wanted to die”

~ JULIETTE LEWIS

I sat on the couch watching television with my best friend, her boyfriend and his best friend. Everyone was laughing and discussing the show’s shenanigans and how reality tv was so unrealistic. All of a sudden out of nowhere I started hearing loud sirens and my heart started beating so loud and so fast I thought it was going to jump out of my chest. I thought I was having a heart attack. Panicking because I thought I was dying I looked around the room at everyone else who appeared to be unfazed but the loud sirens.

“Do y’all hear that? “I asked clearly frightened. 

“Hear what?” my friend asked clearly concerned. 

That’s when it hit me I was the only person that could hear the sirens because the sirens weren’t real. The sirens were in my head. 

Then I couldn’t breathe. My shortness of breath was so bad I could barely grasp for air. I’m definitely having a heart attack I thought to myself. I started holding my chest trying to catch my breath. 

“Are you ok?” My friend asked.

“Yea I just can’t breathe” I said trying to stand up. 

My friend called 911 out of concern. Now the sirens were real. When the ambulance arrived to her apartment 20 minutes later I was fine the moment passed. My heart rate went back to normal and I was able to breath. I went to the emergency room and got a X-ray and the doctor told me I was fine.  He said my lungs were clear and I was free to go after about two hours. 

I didn’t know it then, but I just experienced my first panic attack. It was so weird to me because I wasn’t stressed or upset. It just happened out of the blue with no warning and for no rhyme or reason. 

Then three months later I woke up out of my sleep shaking because I was so scared. That’s when I heard footsteps in my living room, and then I heard the door handle jiggle. I was so scared I just started  screaming and called 911. Once I screamed I heard the footsteps run towards the window and then I heard what I thought was someone climbing out the window down the building walls.

The 911 operator was so nice and agreed to stay on the phone with me until the police arrived. I would say 15 minutes passed before the police arrive, but the 911 operator kept me calm the whole time. Once the police knocked on the door I was too scared to leave my room to open the door. I didn’t know what or who waited for me on the other side of the door, but after a minute or so I gained enough courage to open the door.

Once I stood in the living room I realized everything was all in my head. No one had ever been in my apartment and not even Spider-Man himself could have climbed up and down the walls of my third floor apartment. 

The officer was very compassionate and understanding even though I clearly wasted his time and tax payer dollars. He walked through my apartment and made sure no one was there. He opened all the cabinets, closet doors even the oven.

“You’re just scared no one is here” he said.

“I’m sorry” I said clearly embarrassed.

The officer left and I went back to my bed were my son was laying sleep. He never woke up through any of the nights events. Not from me screaming bloody murder when I thought I under attack or from the police pounding on the door. He never woke up he just slept peacefully and unbothered. 

I just sat straight up in my bed and cried. I cried because I felt like I was loosing my mind. I felt crazy and I didn’t know whether I was coming or going. Not having control over my own mind or my feelings was extremely scary and disheartening. “Janay you really are crazy” I repeated to myself as I sobbed. I pride myself on being a strong woman, but at that moment I felt weak.

The next day I contacted a therapist. I decided I could no longer suffer in silence. I could no longer be a hostage to my own mind. I’ve been going to therapy faithfully for the last year and a half trying to work through my issues. My therapist explained to me that I shouldn’t feel weak. She explained how strong I am for taking the steps to get help. She said I’m strong for not allowing myself to suffer in silence. I still have panics attacks, but I now know how to breathe through them. I’ve been diagnosed with chronic depression and PTSD. I refuse to let those titles define me and I’m working on being the best version of myself I can be. It sounds corny but I may currently have depression, but depression doesn’t have me. Depression does not define me or who I am as a person. I will not be a slave to depression. 

If your reading this and suffering from depression, anxiety, paranoia or any other mental illness do not allow yourself to suffer in silence. Reach out to a therapist, a friend, or a counselor. Get help and understand that you are not in this fight alone. 

Helpful resources: 

Baltimore Crisis Response Inc. (BCRI)410-433-5175

https://bcresponse.org/index.html

Sheppard Pratt Urgent Assessment Line410-938-HELP (4357)

https://www.sheppardpratt.org/patient-care-and-services/crisis-services/

National Suicide Prevention Line:

1-800-273-8255