Identity Crisis

0 comments Posted on February 1, 2021

by A.D. “Lumkile” Thomason

Wounds are defined as mental or emotional hurt. For too long in the Black community we have accepted the things our culture and parents told us about the spiritual, mental, and psychological components of who we are. Our hurt was glossed over. This caused us to view life through an unhealthy lens that presented us as healthy. So as trauma gives us distressing situations, we process our mental and emotional wounds through false lenses. The scars are attached to trauma and are compounded by recurrent trauma.

Many people have stories like mine, stories that would lead my therapist Don Furious to say, “I am surprised you are alive.” We use them as a badge of honor, as if our pile of unprocessed trauma proves how strong we are. Having had the chance to work on my own issues, my heart grieves for those who are not able to express their authentic selves. Your true expression has been repressed, you have been told in many ways to just accept what was said. Through it all, your inner person is kept among the dead.

Yes. This approach to life keeps us among the dead mentally and psychologically.

God is the one we should seek. For too long we have accepted the truth of our internalized states while dying inside and placing the blame on God. Whether we knew this or not is not the full point, though. The point is we don’t have to accept the false reality of putting up a front and ignoring our pain as a form of trusting God. The way we have trusted God to be with us as we processed life through wounds post-trauma is the same way we must trust him with our truest self and feelings.

Even if the trauma has stopped, the wound—the mental and emotional hurt—remains and will continue to be an issue until we name it. In the encounter with the Gerasene demoniac, Christ asks him, “What is your name?” (Mark 5:9). Many of us need to name the trauma that has wounded us. We need the freedom to process the trauma, so we can name the feelings it elicits. The feelings may range from rage to deep sadness. Many of us need to be held, walked with, and consoled with no strings attached.

I believe the Lord has birthed us for this because his Word reminds us, “There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24).

By processing my trauma with Don Furious, I realized that my wounds were the glasses through which I saw life. I thought that was God’s best for me, and my Blackness at the time affirmed it. This was the legacy handed to my parents and their parents before them and so on, all the way back to when the first enslaved African stepped off a boat onto American soil. But Don Furious uttered these mind-blowing words: “This is not God’s best for you. It is what you have known to be best, but endurance and internalization are not God’s best for you.”

A trauma that leaves an unhealed wound leads to what I call “deficit living.” I define deficit living as subconsciously putting everyone in an emotional hole that they must work to climb out of by demonstrating and proving their love. But once this deficit exists, it’s impossible for them to climb out of—especially if they show any sign of being connected to past traumas through unhealed wounds. You also exist in a deficit—an insatiable void that you cannot fill. It’s deepened by accusations and belief that no one loves you, people always leave, or no one wants to give you their best.

With the strength of Black Panther’s suit that absorbed ten thousand blows, trauma will unleash itself eventually and disintegrate everyone in its path. The thought “No one has time for me” keeps you among the dead in your subjective belief. Because the trauma is not named and the wound is not healed, you will have everyone working overtime to fill a hole that is too big to fill in this lifetime because this Grand Canyon of trauma started way before your current relationship.

With this as your reality, you cut people off emotionally and justify it because you don’t know how to name traumas and hurts. Meanwhile, you’re exploding—punching walls here, throwing a table there, and breaking a phone—because you believe no one knows you or understands your situation. They may not understand, but neither do you. You must stop swallowing your pain and believing the myths that you don’t experience stress, nothing gets to you, and no one can hurt you. Responding in a reactive way demonstrates that things do get to you. No, it’s not passion. It’s unprocessed hurts. I’m writing from firsthand experience.

God made us all with the same emotions; some of us can express them more freely than others if the imperfections of the world haven’t interrupted that freedom. The good news is that even if that freedom has been interrupted, God can restore the years the locusts have eaten. I see feelings and emotions as the taste buds of the soul. If God wanted us to eat food only to fulfill the function of satisfying hunger, he wouldn’t have given us taste buds. Therefore, if God wanted us to live without feelings and emotions, he would have made us robots.

The lenses traumas give you are wounds, emotional and mental hurts, and you see everything through them. Understand, if these wounds are not healed, your body internalizes them and your loved ones—despite your well-intentioned motives—will pay for it because you have not learned to say the most significant three-word phrase there is: That hurt me. This phrase changed my marriage and friendships and continues today. I had to develop the practice of saying what hurts.

Taken from Permission to Be Black  by A.D. “Lumkile” Thomason. Copyright (c) 2021 by Adam David Thomason. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL.

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