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Are you in an abusive relationship with your thoughts?

Do your thoughts bully you into believing that your feelings are crazy, your desires are unobtainable and the decisions that you make for yourself are foolish at best and incredibly selfish at worst? Do you call yourself names and put yourself down? Do you constantly have thoughts about being a failure or ruining your life?

We have many euphemisms for the ways our thoughts keep us in line, in check and unfulfilled. Usually, we dump these thoughts into a big container called depression or anxiety. I’m not suggesting that either one of these things aren’t real, or that they are “all in your mind”. I have my own struggles with depression, and I’m not suggesting a quick fix. What I’m suggesting is that because so many of us struggle with this same thing, that we tend to sugar-coat it and dress it up as something a bit more palatable and “normal”.

But isn’t that what happens in abusive relationships? The violence becomes normalized, we begin to tell ourselves that if we can only change certain parts of who we are then we can be loved. Until then, we endure being called fat slobs, or lazy idiots, or worthless failures and above all unlovable, by our own thoughts. The kicker is that the many of us would not accept that abuse from just anybody, but in the most vulnerable and tender parts of ourselves in our minds and in our hearts, we allow these toxic and abusive thoughts to strangle our dreams, our visions and our desires for ourselves.

The worst part about it is that society gaslights most of us, in subtle and unsubtle ways, into accepting these thoughts as facts. This is what we call the status quo. The more oppression that we experience or people like us experience, the more that we are are taught to accept what is instead of allowing ourselves to dream- or really feel- at all. Oppression is ultimately mind/behavior control. Violence is a tool that is used to keep oppressive structures intact by keeping the people inside of those structures in line.

Violence is brute force but more often it’s 10,000 micro and macro messages inundating you everyday that you aren’t good enough. For every horrific act of brutality, and overt act of prejudice, there are a million messages streaming over airwaves and sound waves and wifi that you ain’t shit and ain’t never going to be shit but keep striving because if you stop that proves you right. What a traumatizing and desperate way to experience reality.

In the grand scheme, these thoughts come from a society desperate to keep its own illusory control over millions of people, but in the immediate and personal, these thoughts usually come from folks who were supposed to love us, protect us and cherish us but hurt us, either wittingly or unknowingly.

So we carry these secret pains with us in our most tender spaces like precious family heirlooms. For some of us, our only memories we have of the first people we love are bound up with these hateful messages. For some of us, the off-color remark was a lesson we never forgot while our brains were still trying to figure out the way the world works. And for some of us, the brutality of what we experienced and how we learned to hate ourselves means that our survival is a miracle in and of itself. But it is not enough to survive, day after day while your cruelty towards yourself eats you up inside and make you terrified of who you are. Because ultimately, like any abuser, your thoughts would have you believe “I think, therefore, I am.” they would have you believe that you are nothing without them. And, because they are your thoughts, they take it a step further- you are your thoughts. But like problematic aunty Erykah Badu says- “you don’t have to believe everything you think.”

There is a war going on for your heart and your dreams, your soul and your imagination. Oppression, internalized and externalized, wants to own it all. Wants you to believe that you deserve nothing good, that you don’t matter, and that you are not important. That couldn’t be farther from the truth, beloved.

The truth is that we- the earth, the people, the universe, need you to be so filled with the light and vastness of your own dreams that anybody you touch must also imagine. The truth is that, as hard as it is to fathom in the moments of despair and hopelessness, you are far greater than what any fortune-teller could predict. The truth is that even if all you did was wake up and let the sun greet you, you deserve more kindness today than you allowed yourself yesterday.

And the thing about the truth is- you don’t have to believe it for it to be real. Just like you don’t have to believe in gravity or electricity, the truth still exists. So do you, raw and radiant, magnificent beyond belief, lovable beyond comprehension, and divine beyond compare.

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