There have been 27 years of history between this world me. In my life, I have had the pleasure of loving many people. I have also had the pleasure of receiving love from many beautiful souls. Interestingly, I am just now finding the ability to truly understand what love means.
Of course, like most people who grew up at least semi-involved in church, I have always understood love to be as it is described in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8: patient, kind, selfless, soft. Honestly, I have always had this notion that love mostly exists in the gentle spaces. Until recently, I felt that love occupies the voids between the callouses of life experience and the harshness of our hurting parts.
But, now, I am learning that love can also flourish in those calloused spots, too. It is not only reserved for the glamour and the silk of pleasure. Love also expands into the grit and the toughness of imperfection. I hold love, stiff and determined, in the spaces of my spine when I am too prideful to be soft. I hold love, sharp and loud, in the swell of my voice when I am desperate to be heard. It lives at the base of my skull when I am trying to think of ways to overcome society’s obstacles. It is in the bones of these fists, pounding and relentless for change. Love is held, sharp and honest, between these teeth when the truth can do nothing else but be spoken.
Love is all the things that make us titanic and powerful. It is urgent. It is strong. It will not be hushed. It is immovable. Love is a force to be reckoned with.
About Ashley Finley:
She is a 27 year old womanist who uses writing and poetry to share her story. She also feels that writing is a deeply cathartic experience and encourages other women and people of color to use writing as a way to understand, cope with, and celebrate their world.
Self-care is more than going for a run, eating right or sleeping a full eight hours. These acts are baseline of what we need as human beings and often in the helping professions we are expected to be more than human. What if self-care was also embracing our humanity and our limitations? Self-care for me can look like accepting the limitations of my time, energy and ability to engage with a hurting world.
Self-care is also misnomer rooted in an individualistic mindset; it takes more than an individual to hold trauma and inequity. We need to take care of each other. Let's talk about mutual care and our collective responsibility to hold trauma. Who can stand can we stand with? And bear witness to their story? Who can stand with us and in the face of barbaric violence of our society?
Trauma can be like a cancer that can eat away at our minds, bodies and souls. It can be gray-colored glasses that affect how we see ourselves and the world around us. Yet when shared with others, trauma and it's shame are no longer society's dirty little secrets but testaments to resilience. The first step to healing is being heard, being validated, being seen. Otherwise, trauma keeps people living in the shadows.
Self-care is more than going to yoga or getting a manicure. It's recognizing our own humanity and vulnerability, our own limitations for holding the unspeakable. It's reaching out for understanding from others and honoring our own reactions to this work. It's being listened to with the same care and gentleness as if the stories were our own.
We are holders of the stories, holders of the trauma and we can help others on their healing journey when we can release the trauma, share it, care for ourselves and allow others to care for us. It boils down to love; if we love ourselves and allow ourselves to be loved, we can give freely to others what we already have.