2 Sep, 2021

I often share many of my lessons from healing and for years, therapy was the only safe place for me to engage in healing. When you have complex trauma it is difficult to feel safe in most spaces. For me having that layered with the work I do in community I sometimes struggle to feel confident and vulnerable with others who have experienced gender-based violence. One reason for this is my role of caring for others. In the past I’ve often placed myself in a space of holding others’ pain while not allowing my own to be held and shared. This is such a work in progress for me. The other layer I think is this “imposter syndrome” that comes up. I often battle with feeling like I can’t take up space or that what I say has to be perfect. All of these things are trauma responses and what I know about myself is even though I FEEL those ways I still come into spaces and try to be vulnerable while learning I don’t have to take it all on.

Recently, I decided to step way outside of my comfort zone and go to a virtual creative writing workshop ran by Women at the CentrE (if you aren’t following them on social media, do it. If you are a survivor or work with survivors they are absolutely magical in the services they provide and every single staff that works there) I attended this workshop really having no idea what to expect. I had been to one other creative writing workshop years ago and although I liked it I was too embarrassed to share.

It turns out this specific workshop was poetry. I was super nervous while also excited to try something new. I had this feeling for the past few weeks that I had something going on inside of me, something to say but I just couldn’t get clear on what it was and what it meant. The artist who facilitated this workshop is Susana Meza (ig @susanamakesart ). I so appreciated their style of facilitation. We went through some best practices of collective healing through art and discussed some quotes from many BIPOC poets. When I was younger, about 13, I used to write poems a lot. Poetry was such an important way I processed what was going on for me when I went into foster care and after I came home. I had this binder that I would carry with me and add poetry too. Sadly, It was found at school and from there, I was brought into the office and an assessment was done (fair enough much of the poetry highlighted so much pain) however, from the way the conversation went I was too ashamed and felt too unsafe to keep writing so that book was thrown away. I was completely drawn into the whole workshop and had an amazing mix of body reactions to the short quotes that were presented. From there we had 10 minutes to write from a prompt that was given or if the prompts didn’t work for us we could choose our own. I went with the prompt “write about a time when you were sassy“.

I was both shocked and amazed at what came out of my heart onto the paper. Below is what I wrote:

Every damn day
The sass runs through my veins
It comes out of my body and mouth before landing in the ears of whoever is around
My sass is fierce both a gift and a weapon handed down from generations
It’s used as a warning, a message, a boundary, but mostly an act of resistance
My sass is my voice, unbreakable, unstoppable
It is a present to me from the women before
It is a pathway, a light through any closed door
I take pride in this gift although sometimes a burden
It has been wrapped up and handed down x’s 2 to my next generation
When have I been sassy?


I am still so proud of what I wrote and it helped me to get clear on what has been bubbling up inside of me to process lately. Another incredible part of this workshop was sharing with the rest of the folks there and offering strengths-based feedback. Everyone wrote such incredible things and again, I could feel so many emotions in my body. When I reflected on what was difficult for me it was to resist the urge to cross things out to make it “perfect”. Michelle, who works with Women at the CentrE and who coordinated such an incredible event, made a statement that really resonated with me. “Perfection is colonial” Michelle shared with me that this quote was one she heard by her professor Lynn Lavallee. A powerful statement as I continue to work on decolonizing my thinking and being. When I reached out to Michelle to talk about creating this blog post Michelle gifted us with the poem she wrote.

Taking back what is Mine

My heels…high.
My hair…curly.
My lips… red.
My body…curvy – maybe not in the “right spots”.
I never thought I could be sassy in front of this many people.
The music starts but my nerves started faster.
All of a sudden, nothing else matters.
My heels… follow with me across the stage.
My hair…whipping around as I dance,
My lips… open up to show my smile,
My body… a power house,
A Goddess.
I love this moment; I love who I am in this moment.

I don’t even have words to describe my thoughts and feelings about the power in this poem. I have goosebumps and a strong connection in my stomach about the power as I visualize this poem when it is read. Just wow.

Such a freakin powerful evening. Now over a week later, I feel this longing to write more to be involved more. Something has been stirred up that wants to come out on paper since I attended this.

When I reached out to Susana about this blog and creative writing workshops. Susana wrote:

“Some folx prefer silence but I am unable to write unless it is in a community setting, I feel in tune with my true self facilitating and participating in creative writing workshops. There is something about writing creatively with others that mirrors how our ancestors told each other stories by the fire. Gathering with others to write and share our raw work, especially. when our voices have been historically marginalized is a powerful, life-transforming experience. Reclaiming my power through my poetic voice has been a triumph and a way of partaking in much necessary community healing during these ever-confusing times.”

I do hope that more of these workshops will be available and if not, I will do some research to find one. Connecting with the raw parts of myself while being held by community has been life changing for me right now.