religious trauma pt. 1

black woman writer, healing

I remember starting to blog about 7 years or so and my goal was to be as transparent as possible. Somewhere along the lines, I retreated back to my old ways of mincing my words for the comfort of others. I have decided to stop that today. As of lately, I have not been feeling so “Christian,” or actually I have felt that way for quite some years. This could honestly be for a plethora of reasons but the main one for myself is finally seeing all of the ways in which religion has violated, and traumatized so many of us. As a woman, we were socialized in the church that purity should be our number one goal next to being the perfect wife. When I think about it, I can’t really think of a time in church where the message was about more important topics like mental health, self care and maintaining your health so that you could actually help the world as Jesus had intended for us.

There is so much I could get into regarding this topic but I want to just be honest with myself out loud for once. Christianity was something passed down to me as a child from my family but in hindsight it was never fully practiced in my household. The traditional aspects of it were there such as going to church every Sunday, being involved in different ministries including choir or dance, and attending VBS in the summer. But it was more surface level in my opinion. We were just told that the Bible is our guide, no questions asked. Reading through long passages at church that sometimes made zero sense to me and were simply expected to go along with it. I am not saying that I have never felt deeply connected to Christianity but at a point one does begin to question nearly everything they were taught as children.

I am someone who has always been extremely deep and when things are kept at the surface level, I suffer or simply don’t want to be involved. To fully experience life, we must feel and sometimes those feelings are not great but often times than not, those unpleasant feelings are what help us to grow.

I remember in college having an extremely strong relationship with God and all throughout my childhood. But once I snapped out of it due to back to back circumstances that made me question God, I began to look outside of what I had always been taught. At first it stemmed from anger but then eventually those feelings mellowed out and I simply had so many questions. I still have so many questions that I don’t believe will ever be answered but I honestly don’t think church can answer them for me.

I have prayed, meditated on the word more than I can count but still I come to the conclusion that religion, and spirituality are two topics in this life I will never fully comprehend. How can we fully put our trust into any of them? I am unsure of how to navigate these ideas mentally without feeling like I am running in circles. Even with all of that in mind, I do still feel connected to God or The Divine, but just not in the ways I was instructed as a child.

This is a conversation I could not dare have with my family, except for maybe one other person and it sometimes make me feel like a fraud for even thinking this way. But, it is my truth. As I mentioned in my last post, I am on a discovery of self so perhaps one of my questions will finally be answered as I continue cruising through my healing.

re-Discovering Sophonie

black blogger, black girl blogger, black woman writer, blog, healing, inspiration, inspirational blog, mental health

Today is Sunday, August the 8th, 2021. A few days ago I experienced something within a dating situation that really threw me off guard. Dating is not my favorite thing to do nor is it my favorite subject. However, if there is one thing dating always does for me, is allow me the chance to get into a mode of introspection. I am not one to say that I am flawless because that would be the furthest thing from the truth. I am flaw filled and fully aware of that. So although I would have enjoyed that dating experience to continue further in terms of us getting to know each other, I refuse to have any negative blood towards that person. I truly think that we were simply not aligned and that is okay.

Now what does this have to do with the title of this blog? You know there is always a method to my madness, so here it goes. Towards the end of June, I moved to Delaware. A few years back I could never see myself here but it has truly brought a newfound peace to my life. I’ve always been a city girl, no matter what state I resided in and I thought Jersey was it forever. But it was time for a change. I laugh at myself because when the idea was first brought up by my sister, I thought to myself, “What the hell is there to do in Delaware and also how am I going to flourish creatively?”

Anyways, right before moving, I had my very last therapy session since my insurance would no longer be valid since I had to leave my full time job. I recall my therapist asking me, “What would you call this phase of your life?” I replied by saying, “Discovering Sophonie.” That phrase felt so fitting and still does.

For the purpose of this blog, I added the prefix “re-,” because truth is I think that as children we know ourselves pretty well. It is the world that taints us and eventually we lose sense of who we truly are. Then when we get older, we become bitter in ways that makes no sense until we do the inner work. We begin to wonder why do we view ourselves negatively or even others? What about our inner child was so wounded that we now aren’t able to function freely and simply be who we are? We begin to feel lost or just out of place in damn near every section of our lives.

I have been experiencing this for maybe the last 5 years or so of my life. Trying to re-discover myself. As a child acting and writing were the only things I could seriously see myself doing as a career. Then in middle school, I discovered my love of Psychology and I added that to my list of passions. Now at 27, I sit here feeling out of place more times than not because I have not found the way to make any of these passions turn into an actual career. It feels like the last few years I have simply been playing ring around the rosie with life. No actual direction.

Regardless of those feelings, I am learning that the real issue is never centering myself enough to fully and truly understand what my own needs are. Allowing what I’ve been conditioned to believe about myself due to society, religion and family infiltrate my mind is what tends to hold me back. The idea that we don’t care what others say or think about us is genuinely bullshit for most of us. I’ve said it so many times but have never fully believed it myself. I do care how others feel about me and that is exactly why I tend to suffer.

I am not saying any of this for sympathy or even empathy at that but rather opening up the conversation that in order for us to actually heal, we have to be willing to accept and be ourselves regardless of what others think. You can still care about their opinions but allowing those opinions to stop you from living your life will never get you far in life.

The journey of healing is one that is constant, just as life is. So long as we are alive, I believe we have the opportunity to continue healing and ultimately grow. I may not fully understand this phase of my life but I guess that is the focal point of it. After all, it is a moment to rediscover who I am, what I want, what I need and where I want my life to be. No matter how many people or friends I go to for advice, the only person who can help along this discovery of self, is me.

27 years of life, love, and healing

black blogger, black girl blogger, black woman writer, black writer, healing, inspiration, inspirational blog, life advice, lifestyle, mental health, self care, self help

Today is my 27th birthday and I must say I did not expect to make it this long. Not to be morbid but depression is a mothafucka’ and that mothafucka’ has tried to take me out a couple of times. However, I am also a short, sometimes stubborn Haitian woman. You have gotta’ really push me to my limit before the thought of actually giving up even actualizes in my brain. Granted I have given up on quite a few jobs in my 20s but they were no longer worth my time and time is something we can never get back. So in this piece I want to give you 7 reasons why I never fully gave up on life and why you shouldn’t either. Ready? You sure? Keep up cause I won’t be repeating myself.

1. The Beauty of Breath

There is something so peaceful and fulfilling when you truly take a step back to focus on your breath. Consider all of the functions within your body that ultimately work together to keep you together. Each inhale matched with its subsequent exhale powered by the inner workings of your lungs going in and out bringing oxygen to your brain. Next time you are stressed out, remember this and take a moment to simply breathe for at least 10 seconds.

2. The Beauty of Beat

Now this can apply to your heartbeat and the beat of music. I am a huge music lover so this is something I can talk about for days. The way a beat can be felt physically but also heard is something I will always appreciate and especially for those who may not be able to hear but they can feel. A beat can be felt by those who cannot hear, it can create stories in the ears of those who cannot see. Its sound-waves paints a picture that vibrates within the souls of us all. There is a certain energy associated with feeling the beat that makes you feel wired, energetic and alive. So next time you are feeling down, take a moment to play a song with an amazing beat or melody and just dance.

3. The Beauty of Being

As someone who has dealt with depression since my childhood, I know what it feels like to struggle with merely existing. I understand the pain associated with that thought and how it can tear you up from the inside out. I also understand that even in the pain, there is beauty on the other side of it. When you have struggled for so long but you continue to hold onto the faith that one-day things will improve, you are exercising a muscle that takes a lot of strength. You are so much stronger than you may even imagine but trust me you are. Please, keep going.

4. For the Love of Creating

Last year I started my first official business, JUSO Media Merch and the first product was a t-shirt line that read, “I Create to Live.” I’ve discussed in length what that phrase means but I’ll explain it for those who don’t understand. I have always seen my creative nature as a gift from God to keep my grounded and my soul fulfilled while here on earth. At the tender age of 8 is when I became a writer but I didn’t fully realize that was my true calling until a bit later in life. Either way I am happy to have arrived at that truth. The way that words pour out of me like a healing balm for those who need a word or two of comfort. While my creativity exists outside of writing as well, all of it comes together to bring me peace when I need it most. Creating helps to relax my mind, it puts me in the zone of building something out of nothing and it helps to ground me. Word to Ari Lennox, “You grow when you are grounded.” The last few years I have certainly been growing, healing and learning to genuinely enjoy living. That is what finding your true passion can do for you. So whatever you are passionate, please take heed and try your best to work in that passion daily if possible. Even just a little bit helps.

5. For the Love of Connection

In just a few short weeks I will be moving back in with family. I moved back to my home sate, New Jersey back in 2017. My goal was to practice on my craft, be closer to New York city for access and resources. Although I often feel behind in life when compared to my peers –which I shouldn’t be doing but I am working on it– I can truly say I have accomplished more than I give myself credit for. I started acting classes, applied for graduate school, got in but didn’t go. (Short but long story). I started therapy again and have seen my mental health improve tremendously in the last year and 4 months. I started an inspirational apparel company, started working on my first book, became more active on YouTube and started my own podcast. All in all, I did what needed to be done and I understood the assignment. However, one thing the pandemic has taught me is that I thrive off of connection. While I am naturally an introvert, I still enjoy the connection I have with close friends, family and even colleagues.

Connection is what keeps us in alignment with God’s promises for us. We weren’t created to simply be left alone forever but rather to fellowship with one another while on earth. Create memories, love one another and keep each other up when we cannot do it on our own. Connection is key. Even if you have to create your own family with friends or people online who share similar interests, find yourself a community that you can connect with. But always remember that your connection with self should be the strongest out of all. When you tap into your needs, wants and desires, only then can you provide others with what they may need or want as well. Always keep in mind we cannot fuel anyone else’s tank if ours is left on empty. Fill yourself first.

6. Healing Through Music

I have often attributed my emotional healing to my love for music. It brings me healing in moments when I may not be able to express how I am feeling in that moment. This can apply to other forms of art including dance, paintings, books, and even through photography. Being able to capture a moment, a feeling or a thought that can now remain in museum life for centuries to come is truly something special. That is why art and more specifically music is so essential to my life as a writer and someone who has battled depression. So to you I say, if you are battling depression or harmful thoughts, try to create a personal playlist of good music that brings you hope when you need it most. Here is the one I created that many of my friends enjoy listening to. Check it out.

7. Healing to Breathe

So we have reached our final thought. After being in therapy for a year now, I have realized that I lived most of my life barely breathing. Most of my true self has been submerged into this water like form of what I think everyone expects me to be. Therefore causing me to suppress my own feelings, thoughts and views just so that I am accepted. by those who love me and society. But how does that benefit me? How does benefit any of us to suppress ourselves so that others can be more comfortable around us. If someone can’t be comfortable around you because you are even slightly different then they don’t deserve your presence. Regardless, I am thankfully healing now so I am slowly but surely coming out of my people pleasing phase. Healing to breathe easier is one of my greatest accomplishments in life thus far. I pray that whoever you are and wherever you are reading this, that you too can begin healing to breathe. You deserve to breathe easy.

If you enjoyed this piece, share it with loved one or close friend. Also, make sure to share your thoughts below. Thank you for reading.

Photographer: Melissa J.C./@guyatiannarrative (Instagram)

Makeup: Sarah O./@glam_byher (Instagram)

Model: Sophonie M./@justsophonie (Instagram/YouTube)

One Step At a Time

healing, inspiration, inspirational blog, inspo blog

Originally Posted on November 18, 2017 by Sophonie

Our society today is inundated with this idea that success is just like microwaveable popcorn. I know that may sound strange upon first hearing it but really think about it. How long does it take for some instant popcorn to be made? The popcorn bag instructions usually state that it needs to be microwaved for about a minute and some change, so anywhere from 1:50-2:00 minutes. You throw your bag of popcorn in, set the cooking time, and wait for the joyful sounds of ‘pop, pop, pop’ to eventually ring in your ears and then within just a few minutes…


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Pic Source

BOOM! Your lovely snack or college dinner is done.

Now consider this, how many us of have actually made popcorn from scratch? I sure haven’t. In fact, as I am typing this I am googling how long it takes to make homemade popcorn. In fact, how many of us have even made popcorn using a popcorn machine? *crickets*

Popcorn Machine Goodness (Gif Source)




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Exactly. Now, if you have worked in food service or residence life back in college (me) you might be familiar with how to work it or at the very least how to clean it (…me again). Either way, if you are making popcorn on the stove or via a machine it takes time. Even the process after you are done making it takes even more time. You have to wash the pan, or the different parts of the machine carefully with soap to remove residue. Let’s not forget why or how these items got dirty in the first place. Think about the oil, and salt or your seasoning of choice. All of those ingredients eventually come together to produce buildup on the pan or the machine.

Speaking of machine, prior to even using it you’ve got to heat it up for a good 3-4 minutes first and the same thing goes for the stovetop directions.  All in all in order to make popcorn it takes multiple steps for tasty results. In order for some quality popped corn you’ve got to be willing to take it slow.

Now why the in the world am I referencing all things popcorn? You clicked on this post to learn what it means to take it one step at a time, right? If not, you are on the wrong post.

Alright, alright enough with the jokes, I know they’re getting dry.


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But, on a serious note my splendid reader I know that you already understand what’s going on here because you are intelligent which is why you are here in the first place.

All day long, a good number of us get so enthralled with this idea of instant everything. Instant oatmeal, noodles, macaroni (which by the way is only good when baked & especially Caribbean style), and even instant rice (a sin in my Haitian culture to be quite honest) that we forget the essence of hard work for a tasty meal. This forgetfulness extends itself far beyond food. A prime example is this idea of success via social media. While I have no personal beef with SM, it troubles me that so many of us feel that by receiving a large number of followers, reblogs, retweets, likes etc. (the list goes on) that we are somehow validated. What really bothers me is when people use SM as a way to actually be validated when validation should first come from within.

With that said, there are other instant privileges that have caused us to lack appreciation of a process in order to progress. Remember dial-up internet before high speed took over? I sure do. My siblings and I would have to take turns on who would make a phone call or use the internet. No in betweens.


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Good Ol Dial-Up Internet

How about Blockbuster or renting VHS tapes or DVDs from the library? Again, I do. There was no instant click of a button to Netflix. Not to mention the other irritating factor of texting which took 5-10 minutes per character and that’s me being generous.

Blockbuster You Were So Good To Us


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Nevertheless, the reason I kept bringing up popcorn earlier is because when we really think about it most of us have never tasted how good stovetop popcorn probably is. Hell, I haven’t but I have tasted fresh popcorn from a popcorn machine and it is by far way tastier than the one you just pop into the microwave. So I can only imagine what stovetop popcorn would be like once met with my tastebuds. The point is, we don’t know how its natural flavor because most of us have never taken out the time it takes to make it from scratch. We are missing that authentic taste because we aren’t willing to do what it takes to achieve that authenticity. This goes hand in hand with success and reaching your dreams. You’ve got to be willing to put one foot in front of the other and take individual steps. No rushing.

“What really bothers me is when people use SM [social media] as a way to actually be validated when validation should first come from within.”

With that said, it’s time out for allowing social media or the climate of our society to dictate how fast or slow we go when it comes to succeeding. Every individual who we now consider to be a legend of some sort has done something legendary over a period of time. One of my favorite memes says, “Beyonce/Oprah wasn’t built in a day,” and we all know the original phrase goes “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Now what does Rome, Oprah and Beyonce have to do with anything I’m saying here?


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Pic Source

Think about it, Rome was once one of the greatest empires in the world, Beyonce is now known as one of the greatest entertainers in the world (no…that is not debatable), and Oprah…well need I say more?

Of course the list goes on of remarkable kingdoms, people, and such but you get the point. It troubles me that the generation behind me and many in my own are so obsessed with instant fame/success. All of these instantaneous moments of clout or praise are often fleeting. You can very well have what it takes to fly high for a moment, but the real focus should be whether or not you have what it takes to remain afloat. 15 seconds doesn’t last as long as you may expect or want it to last.

If you are in the midst of climbing the ladder to of your dreams I want you to be reminded that the longer it takes to make something usually means it will also taste way better. Fruits and vegetables are not instantly sprouted up out of the ground (maybe the GMO ones are…) but for the most part it takes the planting of a seed, care, fertile soil, water, good aim of sunlight, and most importantly it takes some time to produce these foods.

“You can very well have what it takes to fly high for a moment, but the real focus should be whether or not you have what it takes to remain afloat.”

Don’t be afraid of the tick tocking of any clock. Granted, we are not all allotted the same amount of time on this earth but while we are here the best way to show how much we are grateful for this time is by enjoying it now. Go in the direction of where your heart is pulling you and work for whatever it is that you are passionate about. If you haven’t quite found that passion yet, check out your hobbies and what genuinely excites you. Eventually you will find something that will help to fulfill you.


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Regardless of what you choose to go for in life, remember that instant success is bland just like instant rice. You want your success to have some spices in it, a good sturdy pot to hold it, and a good amount of time coupled with the right amount of heat to cook it right to perfection. Yum, now that’s what I call a meal!

Today’s Takeout (formerly *takeaway)

  1. True success tastes better when cooked for a while.

  2. Popcorn also tastes better when cooked  for a while.

  3. Validation is even more valid when sought from within.

  4. It is more important to focus on longevity when it comes to success as opposed to focusing on instant and possibly fleeting moments of success. 

If you enjoyed this read or want to add to the conversation please do NOT hesitate to comment below. Make sure to share this with friends, family coworkers, associates, exes, besties, and anyone else who may need a word of encouragement. Until next time splendid readers!

 

Serenity, Smiles and Positive Vibes,

J.S.

self•lationship: solitude vol.1

black blogger, black girl blogger, black woman writer, black writer, healing, self care, self love, selflationship, writing about healing

solitude vol.1

sol·i·tude

/ˈsäləˌt(y)o͞od/

noun

  1. the state or situation of being alone.

For your listening pleasure while reading:

In accordance with the recent events of the world, many of us have found ourselves in a space where we have been forced to be alone. Even if you might live with someone else or others, you are still forced into this new sense of being on your own. No longer is there that constant hustle and bustle we are all so accustomed to. No phones ringing at work, the ding dinging of the cash register you stand behind unless your job is “essential,” and no more commuting. Instead we are now left to try to make sense of this all. All in all, considering what is happening, many of us are stuck in our heads thinking about all of the whats if or how about ifs. 

For me personally, I have been on an emotional roller coaster of reflection simply thinking about all of the what ifs of course but also what this moment of stillness means to me. Why would God allow such a horrific moment of history to repeat itself, some might be wondering. A pandemic? In the year of 2020? It’s quite astounding to say the least. I don’t have the answers to this but I’m sure it’s been a common theme of thought for everyone.

Regardless of the why this, why now and what ifs, one thing’s for sure; for those of us who are single this has pushed us even more into the space of solitude. While being alone does not mean that you are lonely, as someone who’s been single for now going on 8 years, that feeling has certainly reared its ugly head to my mental neighborhood quite a few times in the span of those years.

In fact it’s one of the reasons I decided to start this blog. I need a place to share some of my deepest feelings concerning my singleness but also I wanted to create a space where other Black Women can also feel comfortable doing the same.


The three principles of self•lationship include the following:

  1. solitude

  2. self-care

  3. serenity

For the purpose of this month, we will be focusing on the importance of understanding, “solitude.”

Often times when we hear the words lonely, alone or solitude our minds shift to a negative perspective. But what happens when we allow ourselves to flip that mindset. What about the peace that can be found when you are simply left to your lonesome? No one in your space or talking your ear off.


Solitude in itself isn’t a bad thing, being alone does not make your or anyone incomplete. However, society has a damn good way of making it seem that way. Think of every movie or show ever, the “boy meets girl,” trope is almost always present.

Girl falls head over heels, boy treats her to all of the romantic desires of her heart, boy eventually breaks girl’s heart or in some plot twists, vice versa. Either way, boy and girl eventually get married. They live happily ever after…right?

Who truly knows? What the media usually fails to portray is the in depth turmoil that many of us face individually as humans. In this case it isn’t a Black or white thing, it simply is a thing all human beings face. We all have our inner dialogue taking place


We all have skeletons in our closet rattling away in our brains and those bones most certainly impact us. Movies and TV shows tend to portray falling in love as the end all, be all and band-aid for all of our messiness and pain. When in actuality it can be the beginning of more mess and ultimately more pain in our lives.

Yet according to the TV and movie industry…broken hip? Just fall head over heels in love and you’ll be all good. Depression? Duh, just find random stranger on Tinder and fall in love. It’s simple math.

But on a serious note, it is not that simple. How often do we see solitude portrayed as a true place of peace, happiness, and love? Off the top of my head I can’t think of a movie or show like that. I’m sure it’s out there somewhere and perhaps I’ve seen it but it’s so rare I can’t think of it.

Either way, I say all this to say, as a single Black Woman, there are so many negative stereotypes attached to us as a whole. On one hand we might be over sexualized and expected to simply be a man’s sexual deviant mule. In other cases, we are so called, “Not exotic enough,” so therefore we are unattractive.

So where do we go? Sadly, many women in general have been conditioned to rather be with someone even if it hurts just so that they are not alone. I can speak to that abundantly because I’ve fallen victim to that mindset.

I’ve found myself in extremely questionable predicaments because the need to feel wanted overpowered my better judgement. I can advise you that this is not a good place to be in. But it happens. This is why self-lationship is so vital. I want to introduce the idea to women, Black Women especially that solitude does not mean imprisonment or unhappiness. Have you ever once considered how peaceful and full of love your life can still be even without a partner in the picture?

If not, I urge you to try and picture this. Close your eyes, breathe in and out. Now think of what you could accomplish, enjoy and experience while being single. The pressure of always having to satisfy someone else damn near daily disappears instantly, doesn’t it?

Before we depart for the night, remember one thing. You are worth more than a “just because relationship,” or “connection.” Your life, time and space are extremely valuable. Don’t ever forget it. I love you for real.

Your Good Sis,

Sophonie