“Love is like the sea. It's a moving thing, but still and all, it takes its shape from the shore it meets, and it's different with every shore.”
—Zora Neale Hurston
About two years ago, my hometown of Dayton, Ohio became another city to experience a mass shooting—a very traumatic event for me. For folx like me, who have been diagnosed with Bipolar II, traumatic events can be emotionally triggering. If they aren’t addressed, it can lead to a manic or depressive episode.
I started to process the shooting by journaling and reaching out to my community of family and friends who were, and still are, providing me support. The community was a place where I experienced Black Love, Black Joy, and complete acceptance of my unapologetically Black self. On our social media site, I wrote about what I was experiencing emotionally, mentally, and even spiritually, and I received an outpouring of love.
Then something happened that I never expected: My posts about the event and my asking for support were no longer appearing on our social media site. When I found out indirectly that this was the case, I felt angry and confused. I felt like my family was no longer accessible to me. I felt abandoned, and my little girl inside of me was terrified. It felt like a rug had been pulled right from under me.
And then the unexpected happened again, except this time it was something amazing: during the next several days, weeks, and months I received an outpouring of love and support from folx who I didn’t even think knew my name, and who were members of the same community.
I learned that love and support can be expressed in many different ways by different people. For me to expect that love from other folks will show up in the exact same manner as mine is unfair to them—and yet my belief that it would only added to the amount of pain that I was feeling.
I learned that there were others in the community who were, and still are, showering me with love and support when I didn’t think it was there.
It took close to a year before I was able to finally feel a sense of compassion and understanding towards those who had caused me harm—and to recognize that I had more than likely caused harm to those same people. Most importantly, my circle of chosen family and friends has grown immensely.
As we continue to move forward on this journey called life, may we remember that love can show up in ways that we might never have imagined, and may we receive all forms of love with grace.