Radical Honesty As A Method of Healing

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Ah — the internet, overrun with so much discussion about self-care. People mention self-care to promote candles, to sell subscription services, and even foods. In a time like this, there are so many things changing and called into question in our country. Self-care, for some, can feel like a selfish, banal activity that should be on the back burner. 

How can we move through life with clarity without self-care? Self-care is not all vision boards and affirmations. Sometimes it is as simple as telling the truth and accepting our lives with radical honesty.

Honesty as a healing practice

Studies have shown that being mindful of being accurate in our narratives can lessen symptoms like headaches and tension in various muscles of the body. Being honest can be challenging for those who may have had an upbringing that fostered or even encouraged hiding your emotions, thoughts, opinions, and motivations from others. Small steps toward radical honesty is a powerful way to change your perspective and feel more empowered.

Overcoming fears

Changing your perspective can be equally as humbling when you have historically been secure in your experience but have had some trauma occur in the last few years when conveying your truth to others. Here are some tips to overcome your fears of practicing radical honesty:

  • Envision the events of your life after telling the truth. Sometimes we can mentally practice our responses if we prepare for the possible outcomes. Many times, real-life events are much less severe than we had imagined.
  • Push the envelope. Begin to tell truths to yourself that might feel a bit uncomfortable, i.e. you do not like your career. When you can accept these facts, you are a bit closer to changing your life. 

You do not have to do anything to change your circumstances until you are ready, and able, to be honest, will keep you safe from others forcing their ideas on you, or you inaccurately selling yourself.

What to expect

Your family, friends, and co-workers will know what to expect from you because now, your emotions, thoughts, and actions are aligned. Over time, you will want to change those circumstances that do not fit what is best for you, or you have made peace with them. 

The Link Between Dehydration and Insomnia

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Sleeping, the kind that produces dreams, provides full refreshment and mental clarity in your waking life. Western culture is one that applauds non-stop productivity, so we often hear our family, friends, or co-workers explain that they have only slept in 8 hours in three days without much backlash. Black Americans are the second highest-rated group concerning sleep deprivation, and while we deserve applause for our strength and efficacy, we also should be going to sleep.

Still, because sleep is affected by our circadian rhythms and helps to reduce inflammation in the body, a lack of sleep correlates with more painful menstrual cycles and more difficult deliveries when pregnant. But here is one of the main blockers we often face when trying to get enough sleep: we’re dehydrated. 

Getting more water

According to the Sleep Foundation, being just somewhat dehydrated is enough to make it tough to go to sleep. Consuming water-rich foods and drinking plenty of water and low sugar beverages is a simple way to get enough water into your system and help your body get enough sleep and experience menses less painfully.

For those of us that are perimenopausal or in menopause, lower levels of estrogen can lead to dehydration. Higher water consumption assists with cooling night sweats and hot flashes if you get them, which can mean calmer days and better sleep.  

Working on getting better sleep

Another reason to improve your sleep consumption is to have a better awareness of when something is wrong. Conditions like fibroids cause exhaustion, but if you are already sleep-deprived, you may not notice them until they cause heavy bleeding or abdominal distention.

Herbs that promote sleepiness are:

Valerian

Chamomile

Ashwagandha

You can make a tea out of these herbs and consume near bedtime.

Some of us may wonder: who has time to go to sleep? How can I feel relaxed enough to go to sleep? These questions, and more, are why it is so important to go to sleep — so many of us think that drinking water and resting well are luxuries, but our bodies may be saying something different. Your habits will not change overnight, but every little bit helps.

The Healing Power of Dandelion

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This article has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The author does not intend to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Black women are more likely than other groups to experience fibroids and other reproductive issues, and some of the reasons why is because of the stress of racism, colorism, sexism, and other “isms” that color the unique experience of Black women. Many of the physical ailments that all people face often start in the mind, due to stress. This stress can be caused by negative factors, like figuring out how to pay rent after a layoff, or by what is called eustress, which is caused by positive events, like your wedding day.

Still, after you have decided the ways in which you are going to become more active in the political process so that your values are heard, you have gone to the therapist or found alternative therapies to process your traumas, and you have decided which things are worth fretting over and which things are not as worthy — you can rely on herbs to help you address the reproductive physical symptoms you may experience.

Exploring what’s in your backyard

Dandelion is often treated as a weed; it grows everywhere and it is a hardy plant. These features make dandelion affordable and easy to use at a moment’s notice. The leaves can be cleaned and included in your salad or cut up and sauteed with butter or some other oil with seasoning. Its roots can be boiled and made into a cleansing tea that helps support your liver. The flowers are aesthetically pleasing and also can be used for tea.

Despite it’s sharp, bitter taste, dandelion is quite healing. It supports better liver functioning, helps with bloating, and as a diuretic herb, it allows the body to release any extra water through the urine. Your body may produce less gas. After a few days of using dandelion, you may find that the quality of your skin may have also improved.

But what does this have to with fibroids, endometriosis, and other concerns? Reduced bloating and gas means less menstrual pain, and better liver functioning means that your hormones will be more likely to be in balance. Many of the reproductive conditions that women face today are caused by an imbalance of hormones. There may be too much estrogen or progesterone, depending on the ailment.

Experimenting with dandelion tea may be your first step in regaining control of your hormones. Good luck!

Resources for Survivors of Sexual Assault

You’re on the other side, now what? Methods of healing sexual trauma can include art, music, spoken word, or any other creative outlet. You may already have creative training — but if you do not, don’t fret. Some resources may be free or low cost to get started.

Create your own space

If you can not find a venue that allows you to share your creative gifts in the world, you can create your own website or start a YouTube channel for free. Creating your own website gives you the freedom to speak frankly about the issues important to you without being censored by a third party, a la Facebook.

Talk therapy

If you can afford talk therapy and would like to try it, give it a go! Psychotherapy can be highly transformative when approached thoughtfully and consistently. One thing to keep in mind when searching for a therapist is seeking someone who is familiar with or empathetic to your unique story while challenging your thought patterns with compassion. 

Some questions to think about are:

  • Does this therapist have extensive experience with sexual assault survivors?
  • How spiritually inclined is this therapist? What are some ideological deal breakers for me?
  • Does he or she start appointments on time and engage, or are they simply “phoning it in?”
  • How comfortable am I with taking psychotropic medication, if recommended?
  • Do I feel centered and connected to the work, or do I feel misunderstood?

Books as refuge

Perhaps you are gifted with words or like to doodle. A composition book or a Moleskine may be the tool you need to unlock your deeply hidden emotions. Some creatives report that the movement in their wrists helps them not focus on the pain. 

Readers have plenty of books to choose from as they sort their feelings out. Here is a small list of books to get you started.

Things We Haven’t Said: Sexual Survivors Speak Out, edited by Erin Moulton

The Complex PTSD Workbook: A Mind-Body Approach to Regaining Emotional Control and Becoming Whole by Dr. Arielle Schwartz

How to be Safe in An Unsafe World by Dr. Harold Bloomfield and Dr. Robert Cooper

The Body Keeps Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk

A great podcast to listen to while you clean or drive:

The Left Ear, with Dakota Johnson

This Happened, by a survivor

Honor yourself at all times

Go to therapy at whatever price point you can afford. Get your pain out. You deserve to heal from your sexual assault.

Sexual Predation in the Workplace

Recently, we have been talking about surviving sexual predation. Because prevention is quite crucial, it is critical for not only the target but the would-be assailant to monitor their behaviors.

In the post #MeToo era, reports show that more men have become afraid of working women, especially alone or in close quarters. However, certain men can take this opportunity to get creative with their ways of relating to women, instead of feeling indicted for being a man.

Creativity is how you combat rape culture.

What is rape culture?

Rape culture is “an environment where sexual assault is normalized and excused in media and popular culture.”  An example of this could be one individual telling another person that they wouldn’t engage with or do a favor for a person unless there was sex involved. Another is pressuring partygoers to drink to release inhibitions, or only promoting employees that you deem sexually attractive while demeaning everyone else. 

One of the more tragic aspects of rape culture is the silence and shaming that both men and women perpetrate against victims who dare to speak up. You may hear things like, “What took her so long?” or “She’s just trying to ruin his life,” or “He just couldn’t handle her, that’s all.” 

Mothers may look away from the children who are being assaulted by a family member. This behavior is a bid to save herself. Employees are often forced to quit because of a hostile environment. This lack of support increases the likelihood of revictimization of the target later on. 

So how do we get creative in our interactions with others? Women often find that there is a premium placed on their level of attractiveness, as perceived by hiring managers, friends, potential suitors, and even the guy who can help her in aisle 5. Her beauty or lack thereof can be a boon or a bane, and it seems there is nothing she can do about it.

Some tips for a healthy workplace

  • If you are a hiring manager, be sure to look at all candidates’ qualifications. 
  • Understand that no one is “asking for it.
  • Look them in the eye. 
  • Ask what their hobbies are and listen actively. 
  • When your new hire begins, do not request that he or she change their style of dress just because you are not attracted to or “agree” with it. If the new hire is doing their job and conforming to the dress code, there is no need for further discussion.
  • Do not make comments about sexual trysts, preferences, or expectations.
  • Honor others’ personal space — this includes personal effects and time spent at the office.
  • Promotions should be meritorious and can triangulate employees when sex is involved.

Sex, Sex, Sex! (There, I Said It.)

I’m no prude, and yet, I have not written a single word about sex on this health and wellness blog. Last week a friend shared a powerful TedTalk by Peggy Orenstein called “What Young Women Believe about Their Own Sexual Pleasure,” which alerted me to my oversight. After I watched it, I thought that if women like me don’t talk about sex, then my nieces and nephews are doomed. It warrants examination, this omission. Somehow sex has become the dirtiest three-letter word in the English lexicon, but we can clean it up. Here’s why we need to apply ourselves to this task. The prevalent avoidance of discussing the topic of sex can be linked to numerous societal dysfunctions:

  • Sexual assault and rape
  • Blatant ignorance about our anatomies and procreative capacities
  • Vagina shaming and mutilation
  • Sexism
  • Misogyny

Phew, that’s a lot—too much if you really stop to think about it. These concerns impact everyone on the gender spectrum. If biological women can’t own their bodies and feminine identities, then those transgressive figures, who are adopting femininity will inherit those problems even as they seek the health and healing that that kind of transformation represents. It also means that men can’t be comfortable with women’s bodies, because we aren’t teaching men about the healthy boundaries we need to co-exist in a pluralistic society. The taboos against sex limit our understanding of our beautiful bodies.

The vagina is sacred and holy by design, housed and protected by vulva, legs and arms. Women are meant to open and bloom like flowers for our chosen beloved. And yet, too many women carry fear, where life and pleasure should prevail, judgment-free. Sex is meant to be a beautiful invitation, a dynamic and transcendent connection between consenting adults seeking mutual happiness. Let’s claim that right this century.

I think we can live up to the expectations of biology. Both men and women have pleasure buttons that can be activated by loving touch. Let’s aim for joy, pleasure and the power of reciprocity in the context of sexual intimacy. Let’s discuss this with our sons and daughters, so we don’t have to spend all our time repairing the damages of rape and sexual violations that surround too many sexual encounters. We can reclaim the sacred space of human dignity intended for sexual intimacy. Oh, and, can we say the V word, please? It’s really okay that boys have penises and girls have vaginas. That’s how God made us. This is a beautiful thing.

We can heal our society and ourselves by taking inventory of our sexual beliefs, examining them openly and moving forward bravely into a sexuality where women own their vaginas and men own their penises and each takes on the full privileges and responsibilities for what happens with and in them. That’s a revolution in which this Third-World Feminist is willing to enlist.

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