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My Return to Self

Updated: Dec 6, 2020

Returning to my Divine self when I didn't feel like myself.

Let’s get right into it!

Fall semester of my freshman year of college, whew chile, to say the least. I remember operating from low vibrational energy where I would not put any effort in my appearances. I remember going straight to my room for “naps” that lasted several hours going into the night and not being motivated to do assignments which was an unfamiliar feeling for me. Thank God that I have a better and healthier relationship with naps now! Those naps I took throughout freshman year was my tangible way to escape and disassociate from the academic pressure and the social environment of NYU. As I am thinking back writing this for you all now, my eyes start to tear up because that was my way to cope with this transition from high school to college. I was numbing my sadness, discomfort, and dis-ease through sleep.

To give you more context on my transition from high school to college, let me tell you about my high school. My high school was Black. Please keep in mind that Black people are not monolithic, my classmates were from different ethnic backgrounds. It was a private Catholic school with a public school flair. It was private but honestly not the way you imagine private schools in the richest counties or upstate somewhere in the hills. It was in a cultural hub in downtown Brooklyn. This was the norm for me, going to school with mostly first-gen Caribbean students who came from Carnasie, Flatbush, Bed-Stuy, Crown Heights to students coming from the Bronx and other boroughs.

I was used to hearing elite dancehall/soca sets at parties that I attended (well at the end of junior year and throughout senior year). I was used to the mixxy happenings during lunch and maybe after school. I was used to my short stunted crushes on Brooklyn boys. I was used to the hype around school pride and repping Loughlin all day, everyday. I was used to seeing and entertaining the Catholic school rivalries when it came to sports especially track and field. I was used to hanging out on Fulton ave and walking up and down downtown Brooklyn until it was time for me to go home after having track practice. I was used to the at most 20 minute commute from Atlantic Ave back home. Frankly, I was too used to being top 5 academically all my life until college.

I was used to being Linda - the smart girl which allowed my identity to be solely rooted in academia. I always appreciated being a hardworking student but I wanted to see myself outside my grades and not let them validate me. I desired to tap into other activities that were not normal or something you would never think I would be interested in.

Fast forward to my first-year interdisciplinary seminar course where I was on defense mode all the time. I physically did not feel comfortable to breathe and move in the classroom. I was afraid of taking up space because I thought I was not enough and I fed myself this false notion that I could not articulate my truth and knowledge during class discussions. I remember after getting back my first paper going to office hours asking my professor what ways I can improve because a “B” was not cutting it for me. I forgot what she told me because it was genuinely a dead end, a white woman professor who did not want to invest and hold space for me during her office hours. I remember constantly having to chime in the class discussions to make the conversations holistic and at least fruitful to my existence as a Black Woman in academia within the u.s. This showed up in many other classes when I had to facilitate and educate how black bodies create, serve, and are present in ALL the topics we talk about - natural hair, feminism, “the american dream, lol”, pop culture, gentrification, and more.

Do you know how exhausting that was for me to run on an empty tank as an 18 year old using emotional labor to put these people on to the truth? I was not used to this. So, I was not rooted in total self-perseverance to operate in these spaces.

Personally I knew I was not myself. In addition to the common myth of the freshman 15, I reverted to what kept me safe in social settings which was playing small, being the “shy, quiet friend”, moving under the radar, not feeling comfortable in my own body, and not sharing my light. I think it was depression, maybe seasonal depression, but I never got a diagnosis so I don’t want to self-diagnose myself or use the term “depression” lightly. I do know what I was going through was valid and I was not alone.

Moving forward to my spring semester of freshman year, I decided to move my body more as the first step to feel like myself. I was on the track team in high school, I wasn’t that good, but my body was in better shape back then. I went to the gym a couple of times, sometimes with my roommate with the intention of releasing stress and feeling better about myself.

I continued this effort into my sophomore year and during the spring semester I saw an opportunity to go on a Mindfulness retreat in Trinidad and Tobago. Yes, I went to both islands. That spring break really set and informed the pace for my practice. It was the first memorable moment that I tapped into my own stillness and essentially divinity.

Here is the first journal entry of my intention for the Mindfulness retreat:

I came on this retreat to regain and reshape a sense of clarity. I’m a person who is always thinkingoverthinking, so taking a pause to breathe easy was rare for me. Although for the past couple of months I’ve been more in tuned and aware of myself, this retreat will strengthen the foundation of mindfulness I have attempted to build for myself.

I felt rejuvenated after the retreat and thought my meditation practice was going to soar from this point. Let me tell you, it didn’t. I thought it would not be so much of a challenge to incorporate meditation practices everyday but “college life” seemed to get in the way. Sometimes you have to go through the dark night of the soul many times to find your way back to your practice, to your breath, and ultimately to your divinity.

I knew I needed to heal but I always felt what I needed to heal from was bigger than me. So how could I heal? This led me to understanding how intergenerational trauma showed up for me growing up to two Haitian immigrants.

It finally clicked and it’s still clicking for me at times.

I saw unresolved trauma show up through lack of trust, verbal abuse, love seen only in acts of service, lack of emotional awareness, and many other manifestations. I started naming it all to myself and writing it down. I talked about this with my brother all the time. Come to realize we were equipped for this lifetime. Trust me, after seeing his birth chart and mine and experiencing our childhood together we were definitely going to get it out the mud somehow, divinely so.

I got triggered more. I meditated more. Gain more clarity, Reaffirmed my worth. I got triggered more. Studied myself through my concentration. Related to Haitian Millennials and Gen Z. Cried. Feel, unapologetically. Breathe deeper. I remind myself “healing is not pastime work, it is lifetime work that transcends generations”. Praying through it all and I am still healing through it all.

Take Care,

Linda Duverné

Journal Prompts:

  • When did you know you needed to feel like yourself again?

  • What was your Dark Night of the Soul that brought you back to yourself?

  • What healing resources did you tap into to make that happen for yourself or what do you need right now to begin to heal?

  • What are your intentions for your life/spiritual journey in this moment?

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