I spent years trying to figure out the perfect "elevator pitch" response to the question " What are you?", even practicing in the mirror sometimes, and for some reason, it still wouldn't flow for me. I would get anxious and sweaty every time someone would ask me, it was just another hurdle for me to get through, not only as a mixed woman but as a highly sensitive, intuitive one. I felt like I was bombing every first impression.
Of course, I had other painful experiences in the world, mostly negative ones, ones that turned into full denial of my mixedness. Wading through the daily microaggressions that I received from my co-workers and employers, my spirit had broken.
When I finally had enough I left my job in 2015 which resulted in a full-on identity crisis.
I felt like I was just dragging through life...that was when all of these strange symptoms started coming forward. I was experiencing adrenal fatigue, depression, hormonal imbalances, and anxiety.... I didn't know where to turn or what to do.
After a particularly terrible experience at a friend's New Year's Eve party, I had my very first conscious awareness around how I was being perceived by others. Even though this was a deep "Ah-ha" moment it came with its share of pain and turmoil around the fact that not every space will be inclusive and that it was my responsibility to find acceptance within myself instead of looking outward for it.
I finally felt brave enough to bring this forward to a trusted group therapy setting which I might add was a combination of men and women from different ages, ethnic backgrounds, and social classes, but still, I was the only mixed person.
I knew that I had to do some soul searching and figure out why I was having these physical, emotional, mental, and oddly enough spiritual difficulties.
I decided I would embark on a full year of self-exploration alongside obtaining my degree. It wasn't until I felt the unconditional support of my mentors, coach, and classmates that I was able to start unpacking years of repressed feelings around my identity as a mixed-race woman.
After expressing my feelings, having several really difficult conversations with some of my loved ones, and attending to my own wounds I sought out a counselor to help me with all that I was going through. This was the first time that I felt like I was understood and seen for the difficulties that I was facing.
It came to a point when we broached the subject of race, specifically around being mixed in a predominantly white society and even though my counselor was attentive and we had built a deep and meaningful co-creative relationship, she was just not qualified to come with me through this element of my self-discovery. I knew at that point it was time for me to move forward...
I wasn't able to connect with a woman of color or mixed-race coach or counselor and found that this journey was going to be one that for the time being I was going to be leading myself. After doing my own research, reaching out to estranged family members, and building my own community of like-minded individuals I began to feel strong enough to start putting together the pieces of my past.
I waded through the awareness as each semester unfolded.. but one of the most impactful parts of my journey was about to be revealed......
In family & couples therapy we had to do a genogram project. I actually had to chart my family history and dynamics, which prompted me to reach out to my biological dad for information, this felt like an impossible task given the non-existent state of our relationship.
This project is where I went into the depths of my family, how the systems and dynamics worked and didn't work, along with the relationships I had been in.
I had so much shame around this project, shame because I didn't know my dad's side, shame because I felt like my caregivers had failed me, I translated that into meaning I was like that as well or at least capable of the same thing. I was deeply ashamed of the sexual abuse and the neglect that I had experienced. All of it was a lot to let out, but just imagine all the pain it was causing holding it in.
Now it was time to unpack all of these elements for myself. That was the first time I cried in a group of people and bared my soul to everyone in my class. If you know me, public displays of emotion are so not my style!
Until then I had pasted a smiling face on in all situations because that was what I was taught to do.
When I became more comfortable I started to challenge myself. I shared a poem by Ellen Shaw that depicted her experience of being mixed. I was so nervous, but halfway through I started to feel good, things were shifting.
As I made my way through this rollercoaster of emotions and deep awareness I began to see how being mixed race had really influenced a lot of my life without it being outwardly apparent. There were so many times that I wanted to give up, but the access to my new found intuition and the support system of coaches & counselors that I had built wouldn't let me quit.
I remember thinking " This has been such a cleansing, informative time for me. I would love to be able to provide a space like this for other people to come forward with their experiences as they navigate their mixedness and unpack their traumas"......
When I started this journey for myself, I was coming up against all kinds of limiting beliefs and caretaking ways that really just didn't work for me anymore. I started setting boundaries, having deep meaningful conversations about everything in life, tapping into who I was as a woman, what it meant to be multicultural in one body, healing past traumas, learning about spirituality and the concepts of the universe as well as setting my sights on my own potential.
I went on this journey for many reasons, but the deepest and most profound was about getting to know myself at my core. I felt like there was a long time in my life that I played the part that others wanted to see me in, I shapeshifted from room to room showing up and changing my colors like a chameleon. I truly believed that was who I was always going to be for the rest of my life.
By the end of that year, I had conquered more than I could have ever imagined. I used the healing modalities that I had learned in school to support my growth and built my confidence and self-esteem up higher than it had ever been. I began to see where I was acting small and started aligning my life with my new core values.
I crafted my own spiritual practices and continued to self-study. I became aware of that hurt little girl inside of me, taking responsibility for loving her and caring for her has been such a beautiful commitment.
I became very aware of my mixed-race and started researching my heritage, I even flew 3,000 miles to meet my biological Dad and gather information about the mystery side of my family.
All of this came about because I committed myself to authentic growth and exploration of the multidimensional aspects of myself
I have the life I have always dreamt of. I have my dream job serving and uplifting women just like me, a beautiful supportive partnership, a comfortable & fulfilling lifestyle, but most of all I have peace of mind and heart, knowing that I have met the fully aligned and integrated version of myself.
Cultivating this fully aligned version of myself was the key to stepping into my power and harnessing all of my natural gifts, I know exactly how difficult it can be to do that in a society that would rather label you in the way that is socially digestible. There is a way out, and it is through discovering you.....