• Mickie Woods

Turning Pain Into Pleasure

Over the last few weeks, my pain as a black person has been amplified and put on display for the whole world to witness. Memories I hadn’t even realized I’d been suppressing have painfully resurfaced. Awareness of my everyday conditioned behaviors and notions to comply and assimilate have been realized. And the empty hole from my unknown ancestry, murdered family members, and stolen identity has only become deeper and darker.

Growing up, my identity was rebuilt on a foundation of guarding my truth and choosing paths of least resistance. From the way I carry myself to the partners I choose to date to the roads I opt not to take a pit stop at, sacrificing my convenience for others’ comfort as a way of protecting myself became my norm. Guarding my sanity and the sanity of my loved ones is more than a value — it’s a lifestyle. But that guarded and seemingly safe lifestyle that I spent decades perfecting got turned completely upside down all month long in June.

I feel blindsided yet disappointed for not having better prepared for such a tragedy, sick but without a trusted place to care for my mental health, and dizzy and disoriented but expected to find my own way home to peace. While it may seem easy to just get up and try to move on and resume as usual, I know that doesn’t honor what my soul is currently needing — which is more time to rest, reflect, and recover. I’m refusing to engage in the same counterproductive behavior that has led me to this unsustainable method of healing in the first place.

In many ways, my eyes have been opened and I’m welcoming much-needed change in myself. It does me no good to carry on with my current coping mechanisms and continue living out a life that does not serve me. I know that a revolution can take years, but I can reinvent myself day by day. I know that my environment at large doesn’t celebrate my wins, but I can curate one close to me that does. I know that I can’t choose what happens to me, but I can choose how I react. I don’t have the answers for a better world (and I’m weary of anyone who claims to) but I do have an approach towards change that has felt accessible for me and my life.

I recognize that I’ll only be warming the bench if I’m not improving. So instead of asking myself “What can I do?” and “How can I help?”, I’m asking myself “Where am I needed?” and “How can I be better?”. As Oprah Winfrey always says, “There is no real doing without first being” and that statement feels truer now more than ever before.

These days, I’m journaling more and making it a practice to take daily inventory of my emotions. I’m falling back in love with reading and have taken on a new meaning of “self-development” — growing in ways I didn’t know possible and ways that truly excite me. I’m creating my own avenues of being a part of change and pouring constant energy into my new sex-positive business. Most importantly, I’m being intentional about pushing past discomfort, taking up rightful space, and carving out my desired future.

I’m rearranging my entire way of living to the point where I am no longer complacent towards the things that disturb my peace. Whether the changes I’m implementing are unlearning limiting beliefs, shifting unhealthy patterns, or simply adding/removing elements to/from my daily routine, I’m ok with adjusting to this new world lens if that means greater authenticity for myself and others, and therefore more genuine connection.

Awareness is daunting, change is scary, and growth is uncomfortable, but in my opinion, a life without the three simply isn’t one worth living. I’m choosing to take my pain and use it to help me cultivate and appreciate pleasure. I’m picking a narrative where my trauma empowers me, not hinders me. Because Black Lives more than Matter. Black Lives Overcome. Black Lives Thrive. And Black Lives Prosper. That type of mattering is what my loved ones and I deserve and what would make my ancestors the proudest.

(Image by IG @sixid)

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