By JESSICA WILLIAMS | Nashville Voice
Trauma is defined as a “deeply distressing or disturbing experience” by dictionary.com.
What that definition fails to mention are the implications that trauma has for the person who experiences it. It was very timely that I had a trauma-informed training at the gym right around the time of the release of the R. Kelly documentary.
Because let’s be real, he’s traumatized and now imposing his trauma on young, innocent girls.
Trauma can show up in many ways, shapes, and form and looks different on everyone.
For example, if the trauma is sexual, it may show up as becoming overtly sexual—as we see with R. Kelly, more about that in a bit—or not wanting any physical contact at all.
Mental trauma can lead to the need to be perfect or in other cases, chronic self-esteem and worth issues haunt a person as a result of words from others. Whatever the case, trauma is something that happens to many people and needs to be addressed.
Digging a bit deeper. Trauma has physical implications, specifically with the brain. In our session, we learned 80 percent of the adult brain is developed by the age of 3 and that development begins from the bottom up.
The bottom portion of the brain is where we store trauma and our fight or flight response triggers and concurrently is adversely affected by trauma. That’s why things like touching or certain sounds can create a reaction from certain people.
Consequently, it is difficult to occupy both the bottom brain (reaction space) and the top brain (response space.) The unfortunate truth is that many people spend a good amount of time in the bottom brain as opposed to the top.
The guards, the lack of trust, the separation, the anxiety, the depression…they all stem from the bottom brain triggers.
And, in turn, if not dealt with, is handed down to the next generation. Hence generational curses is a scientifically proven thing. It’s real.
What does this have to do with R. Kelly and the state of black mental wellness you may ask?
Well….R. Kelly is mentally ill. We all know that.
From being sexually traumatized at age seven to feeling like an outsider due to his lack of intelligence in the traditional sense (i.e. reading and writing), he has a strong sense of powerlessness and exercises it on young women who appear vulnerable and weak. That, of course, is obvious.
Does that excuse his behavior? Not at all. It actually brings me to a point.
Mental illness in the black community is real and has been passed down for generations.
And with that, if you know better…you do better. And a man with R. Kelly’s means should absolutely know much better. He needs to acknowledge he’s messed up and get the help he needs!
Unfortunately, it seems, we’re much beyond that. The damage is too great. He is a threat to our black daughters and has no remorse. The only solution at this point is life behind bars with the key thrown away. How did it get this far?!?
It’s time we address the skeletons in our closets. It has been an age-old tale that therapy makes you weak…that trusting strangers with your life story is doing too much…and recognizing where we need support is not in our best interest.
But here’s the thing…would you rather spend time incarcerated? Disconnected? Unable to move on from your past?
The answer should be no!
If you’ve never talked to someone…if you’ve never flushed out your ailments…if you’ve hidden from yourself and others with a private second life—you’re part of the problem too!
It’s far too common that we, as black people, play the high road and are not honest about what is really going on inside. This begins to translate in our relationships, work life, connection to one another, and overall wellness.
Tying it all together, the brain in trauma is an unhealthy one. It is proven that people who have an enlarged brain are more likely to deal with health complications than those who do not. And as a result, the life expectancy of this population significantly decreases against those who do not have this characteristic.
High blood pressure. Cancer. Diabetes. Have you ever wondered why these diseases are disproportioned among blacks? I am sure the trauma and mental illness left unchecked has something to do with it.
So while you’re thinking about this whole R. Kelly situation—he’s canceled by the way—make sure you see the big picture in this.
These women need help. They are traumatized. He needs a lot of help…he’s severely traumatized. And take a look in the mirror. You may find that you are a bit traumatized too.
What will you do to change the path you’re on currently to protect your legacy?
I am building a network of amazing counselors who can support you if the assistance you need is beyond my scope.
Don’t go through life alone and without working out your issues. You can extend your life and the life of your children with one simple step. Just do it!