Jun '15

What it’s like to be heard

I had big plans for the day.

It was going to be a painting day.

Few things get me more excited than new paints and a blank canvas. And I had both. (*cue angelic choir*)

MAGIC was going to happen.

And then I made the mistake of reading email.

Breaking news from Charleston, South Carolina. Suspect still at-large.

What? Noooooooo.

From there, the rest of the morning became a blur.

Facebook. Twitter. Black Twitter. The Grio. The Root.

ANY place I could get a black perspective about what had happened. (Because I wasn’t in the mood for the “mentally ill” “lone gunman” foolishness the mainstream media likes to rehash when the shooter is white.)

Just two days ago, I read a series of tweets to a friend by a brilliant writer named Stacia Brown, who shared what it’s like to be black in America, when shit like this happens.

This tweet hit me particularly hard:

Just think about that, everybody else. To be black in America is to feel like you’ve had a death in your family every hour of every day. ~ Stacia L. Brown aka @slb79

And here I sat, trying to process NINE deaths in my family.

No. I wasn’t blood related to any one of them (that I know of).

But on any given Wednesday, members of my extended family are in Bible study. Deeply devoted to their church. To their God. To service.

Those were my aunties. My other grandmothers. My cousins. My “play” cousins.

They were MY family.

And I needed to grieve with people who looked like me.

Because I knew, that at least, THEY would understand.

And not make me wrong or in any way diminish what I was feeling.


With the whole day lost, I was no longer looking forward to a phone call I had scheduled with the teacher of a class I’m taking called, “Way of the Wild Soul.” I wasn’t in the mood to talk about my spiritual journey or any other fluff today.

I. Was. In. Pain.

And not in the mood to pretend otherwise.

When Tish answered the phone, she asked how I was. I stopped for a minute and said,“I’ve had better days.”

She went on to explain how the call could work (Fire Sessions, she calls them) and that it was my time to use as I saw fit.

What came out of my mouth surprised me: The sight of white people today makes me sick.

Instead of asking me to explain, or “say more about that” (in coach speak) she took in a breath and responded, “I hear you.”

Over the next 40 minutes she held a space of love so big that it could contain about 50 years of anger and pain, without swallowing either one of us.

She let me cry. She let me scream. She let me give up. She helped me get back up again.


And THAT’S where the magic happened today.



At the end of the conversation (and many times during), Tish thanked me for my raw honesty. She said it was a privilege to be trusted enough with my pain and that she had and will continue to learn from the experience.

I thought of all the times I’ve watched (and personally experienced) white people’s dismissal of black people’s feelings on these matters. The minimizing of our LIVED experiences. The fact that because we are not even seen as human, that we are not entitled to have feelings, much less express them.

But today, that was not my experience.

And I’ll be forever grateful to Tish at Essenzaroots for being brave enough to let me express myself and just LISTEN in LOVE.


2 Responses to “What it’s like to be heard”

  1. Julie Murray Says:

    There is nothing quite so powerful and healing as creating loving space for someone to rage and be raw in. To be seen, heard, supported, ACCEPTED. A safe place for as-is truth to be completely TRUE in, regardless of how pretty or ugly it is.

    We need these Witnesses, these Angels, these Warriors. By their very presence, they exemplify the essence and practice of pure Love.

    Thank you for sharing your experience with this. It’s confirmation to a question I’ve been asking.

  2. Eloiza Says: