“A key factor in the perpetuation of white-body supremacy is many people’s refusal to experience clean pain around the myth of race. Instead, usually out of fear, they choose the dirty pain of silence and avoidance and, invariably, prolong the pain.”
My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies by Resmaa Menakem has broken me open. This book has helped me find all the ways that racism lives in my body and it makes so much sense to me. I am now so aware of what my body does when I walk down a street where I am one of few white bodies. My stomach clenches, I breathe more quickly, and I walk fast. WHAT. THE. HELL…. Please please please pick up this book. Read this book. Understand how white bodies have been causing harm to black bodies and brown bodies because bodies carry trauma from OTHER BODIES from centuries ago.
This distinction of pain is also heart cracking. Clean pain is being able to speak to the pain that we are feeling, to name the sensations and experience without discharging it onto someone else. When we do that, we are able to experience pain without it driving our actions. Dirty pain, however, happens when someone who is hurting blows their pain towards another.
Y’all, I am well practiced at dirty pain. I know that if I’m feeling hurt, angry, lonely, or tired (Al-Anon refers to this as HALT), I have to slow waaay down. I have to feel those feelings without necessarily making a request of a loved one. In those HALT moments, I will try to pick a fight, or accuse someone I love and attack them with my words. Afterwards, I feel terrible shame and guilt. This is how dirty pain acts.
Clean pain feels vulnerable, fragile, open. When I am authentic about my sadness or shame, then I am surfing with the clean pain. And the clean up is much less.
MANTRA: Let me be as courageous as I can to open my heart and my mouth, to speak about the pain living in my body, without throwing it at others.
JOURNAL: What things trigger pain in me? How do I know when I am engaged in dirty pain? How do I know when I am working with clean pain?
These Soulful Sunday blogs go out weekly on Sundays to be used as a place to step back from the hustle and bustle and explore what your soul might be saying to you. Some folks use these as journal prompts and let loose amidst pages. Some folks bring them to the kitchen table and jam over coffee. Do you, boo.
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