The Art of Naming Your Pain

I disagree with those that think that truth lies in the light. The truth evaded me in the light. The root of my pain could sustain steathily in the the light. Because the gateway to truth is often found and crossed in the darkest corners of our lives. I was always crowded with people, tasks, distractions that are in direct opposition to the truth. But there was always something bigger than the distractions. Unexpected successes, pleasant surprises, even both kids gone for the weekend did not eliminate a sense of heaviness. It was like my life had a dimmer on it. Because the light allows the luxury of my senses: the relief of stiff drink and smooth smokes. I can hide in errands and cling to movement. For a time I slept on the couch despite a perfectly good bed because I was scared to sleep; frightened of what waited for me beneath my eyelids. The ghost of the past and present can be all-consuming. Sitting with myself was more than I could bear. But luckily, I was faced with possiblilty that shook me out of resistance. Nothing theatrical or elaborate because I haven’t experienced God’s most impactful lessons that way. Quite simply, I had to entertain the possibility of nothing changing. What if I stayed this way? Was I willing to watch the world expand and evolve while I stayed, shrunken and terrified in a dusty corners of my mind?

When you walk into darkness, other sensibilities must take over. It’s disorienting and scary at first. Because of that we often scramble to turn the lights on. The weight of the fear does not seem worth the risk. You forget what could be gained by enduring the risk. If you choose to stay in the dark just one more moment, then one more moment after that, then just one more, you’ll notice your hearing becoming sharper as you try to predict what is around you. Your sense of touch gets keen as you stumble into things you know are there but aren’t sure exactly what you are. When you hit an object, you must use your hands to gain clues. And without fail, a shape or slope, or maybe a texture will trigger a landmark you once passed, the scene of the crime, the source of the pain. Your flight reflex will kick in again, but if you stand your ground there in the dark, you allow yourself an opportunity to relive and examine those hurftful moments, the destructive decisions, but with an eye for the future. You can give language to the feelings that stand between you and healing. Find it, feel it and name it. Shame. Hurt. Loneliness. Abandonment. Fear. Longing. It’s not an exercise in torment, it’s a pathway to healing. You must sit still in your darkness. Cry if need be. Scream if you must. Do whatever is on the other side of release.

Ask or offer forgiveness.

Visit the place to which you vowed to never return.

Be willing to eat your words.

Ask for what you need. Without apology. Even if you don’t get it, you have done your part.

A lightness of being is cool. However, happiness is not always an unearned privilege. Do the work required to achieve your light. It’s much less lonlier in the dark than you think. Hell, I’m still here time to time.


Brown Betty’s Healing Balms: Peace, Part 3

In our collective pursuit of inner peace, my intent is to share those things that have acted as healing balms in my life.  The list is by no means exhaustive, but it does vary in medium, scope, and source.  If life has taught me anything, it’s that blessings often disguise themselves as fears, and angels often look like the biggest pain in the ass. Here’s are some of the bricks that have helped me rebuild my heart:

Silence and Solitude

Being still used to be something I couldn’t do if you paid me.  I spun around non-stop like Sister Tsunami, working 12 hour days, being on call for every friend I had, sporting my little war torn Superwoman cape.  After allowing some  authentic women to truly speak into my life, I realized that all I was doing was ducking and dodging the issue at hand; the one thing that would build my bridge to healing: ME.  I set aside time to be alone, and I do it without guilt.  Reflection is so core to personal peace.  You cannot take care of yourself if you don’t know yourself.  Can you answer the question, “what do I need to find more happiness?” If not, discipline yourself to journal, reflect, and discern until you can come up with at least one response.  Be it closure, divorce, restful sleep, coming out, or a career change, reflection provides you to focus the blurr puzzle pieces and empowers you to make informed decisions to seek peace.

Jill Scott

Well, where do I begin? Her ability to put a generation of pain, lust, love, prayer, indescribable joy in a 4-minute track?  The miraculous slope of her hips, the unapologetic prowess in her smile?  The seed she has planted in the heart of virtual strangers?  You decide.  I never tire of her work; I anxiously await more; when I saw her live, I acted like a damn fool.  This was my anthem as I braved the process of divorce and creating a new normal:


Watching the sunset has always provided a sense of God’s presence for me.  It reminds me that this day, with all it’s misdirection, mistakes, and missed opportunities, is over.  Tomorrow, new mercies await.

The 2 C’s: Cocktails and Comedy

There is nothing like laughing.  There’s nothing like laughing with your homegirls.  Better still, laughing with your favorite people while stylishly caressing a snifter or lowball of your favorite libation has nursed the cracks in my soul’s foundation on MANY occasions.  Living Single is my favorite portrayal of Black women on TV.  Smart, authentic, and devoid of the caricatures that rob us of our depth and dignity.

I am so thrilled Oxygen started playing old episodes in the morning.  They make facing the morning a little easier.  Other pools of comedic healing:

Now let’s get to libations.  When you need a bang for your buck, go with the Long Island Iced Tea.  All the clear liquor dancing around in one glass with the refreshing kick of iced tea and lemon.  I can taste it right now.  Me likey.

Want a to rock a more sophisticated vibe? Martini all the way, baby.  I’m a vodka girl, and will sing the praises of Belvedere and Hangar One (don’t sleep on this one) until my dying day.


Be it the Bible, poetry, nonfiction, magazines or novels, the written word feeds my soul in a way that can be defined as nothing short of holy.  To me, words are living, breathing extensions of the human spirit.  To read them, allows me the opportunity to submerge myself into the landscape of another, feed off of their energy and use it to color my otherwise dim day.  And to write words? Oh boy, to write, is my heart’s joy!  It allows me that discernment, creativity, and non-violent (yeah, I said it) outlet I need to process my pain and nurture my soul.

So there you have it, Brown Betty’s healing balms.  I return to them again and again, to chip away at the wall I have created around my heart, and promote my own healing, from the inside out.

What are your healing balms? What are doing to ensure you give yourself the space to reflect and grow healthy? Seize your peace without apology, without baby steps or a passive voice.  Pursue it vigilantly.  Unlike so many other material things, you do NEED this.