Navigating cPTSD and Racial Trauma

How did I deal with all that trauma?

First, I left the entire environment. As long as you have an environment that will sabotage you, you cannot fully heal. You have to go. This is going to vary on the circumstances, and you might not be able to leave immediately or soon. But the longer you stay in an unsafe place, the more things are going to escalate.

Second, I learned about the subtle aggression people did so that I can tell that apart from non-malicious people. I also learned to pay attention to frequency of the subtle aggression. If it’s here and there, I assume that it’s obliviousness. If it’s consistent, they’re probably doing it on purpose, especially if multiple people have already pointed their prejudice.

Third: I started accepting my boundaries. My boundaries were rejected for so long that I actually thought not asking to be called slurs was too strong of a boundary. But, I started slowly building them and it turns out that there are people who think that’s not cool either. I started accepting that it was not okay for people to grab me unexpectedly (unless an emergency, like getting me out of a burning building). I started being okay with saying no to people if they did that sort of thing. For a lot of people with PTSD, you may wonder on how to do this.

  • Start! No seriously, that is the first step. Do it just once. You have to break out of that inertia. You will probably be scared, but once you do it, you help to break out of that inertia. Your inertia is not laziness or weakness.
  • After that, start slowly with some of the biggest things that have haunted you. The ones where it always comes to bite you if you do not. Remind yourself why you created that boundary. You might upset some people, but those people were never going to respect you. They weren’t respecting you before, they aren’t respecting you now, and their actions indicate that they will not in the future.
  • Have a plan on dealing with rejection. Will you handle it by deep breathing? Will you handle it by exercising? Will you handle it by journaling, drinking water, making memes, the sky is the limit here! Make your own unorthodox plan, one of my most unusual coping strategies is to distract myself with 2 digit by 2 digit multiplication mentally. People with dyscalculia, do not try this at home.
  • Distance yourselves from people you constantly disagree with. That is draining.
  • Lastly, it’s okay to have relapses in this. You don’t have to be perfect, just keep trying and going at it.

Fourth: Connecting with other people like you. No offense, but people without trauma aren’t going to get you. You should connect with some people and learn from them too.

Fifth: See if you can identify your racial triggers. For me, I noticed that a consistent racial trigger are groups of white women who are staring at me. I looked up what could be causing this and this is how I learned about white gaze. It not only makes you feel less alone, but other people may have documented this. So, now when I notice that white women do this, I can not only tell myself that it could be racially motivated but that it is not my fault that this behavior is acceptable.

Lastly, take this one day at a time. Healing takes years. This stuff takes a lot of emotional processing. It’s okay to have random bouts of crying. It’s okay to wonder what is happening to your mind. It’s okay to crash just to deal with the trauma. It’s okay to wonder why many people are wanting to push others to go through the same things that you did- the world is not just and anyone who tells you otherwise is full of it.

Reader, this was an extremely emotional piece. Please, take care.

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