On December 25th, the moon will move from its last 1% waning crescent to welcome a new moon on December 26th — my birthday. It’s also the day I depart for West Africa to visit Togo, Benin and Ghana. Let’s just say, the stars have literally aligned for my first Homegoing.
There is no way to truly prepare for experiences like walking through slave castles where your ancestors were held captive, or standing on the banks of the Donko Nsuo River where it is believed enslaved Africans took their last baths. Additionally, I’ll be bringing along personal baggage of my experiences as a Black woman in America coupled with what I’ve learned through studying and writing about the history of the African diaspora for the past twenty plus years. I don’t know everything about the transatlantic slave trade but I am comfortable saying that I know more than most. And the long and short of what I know is this: every person of African descent is a miracle.
It is a miracle that Africans survived being stolen from their homeland, the terror of the Middle Passage, and lives of enslavement. It is a miracle that their family members who were left behind, the elderly and small children deemed unfit for lives of enslavement, survived and retained their cultures and traditions. It is a miracle that the descendants of formerly enslaved people survived brutal systems of institutional racism and violence post-slavery. Indeed, it is a miracle that people of African descent around the world are still surviving. And thriving.
There’s been mainstream acceptance around theories like weathering and the effects of generational trauma. But as I prepare to return to my ancestors’ true home, I can’t help but think about the other end of the spectrum — what about generational resiliency? After all, that’s the real reason I’m alive today, right? My ancestors survived.
While my challenges this year pale in comparison to what my ancestors endured, 2019 was one of the most difficult years of my life personally and professionally. (Sometimes, I wake up in the middle of the night and read the many comments and messages of support on my post about reuniting with my father before his passing so, thank you. I am still healing.) I learned some hard lessons this year, had my feelings hurt, and cried a lot of tears. But here I am on December 22nd, smiling and feeling pretty damn proud of myself for surviving and thriving. 🙂 Dare I say, I’m better for all the $@!% I went through this year? Heck, yeah!
“It’s generational resiliency, y’all.”Christine
In psychology, this concept is defined as post-traumatic growth. Psychologists Richard Tedeschi and Lawrence Calhoun (who coined the term) offer five ways survivors expand their capacities after trauma:
- New and improved relationships.
- New possibilities, previously unavailable, become available.
- Greater appreciation for life.
- Better sense of personal strength.
- Spiritual development.
“The way I see it, if trauma can be inherited, so can resiliency/post-traumatic growth. And that’s the generational legacy I choose to tap into and honor going forward.”Christine
It’s the reason I’ve survived this long. And the reason I choose to be thankful for every life circumstance in 2019 that forced me to grow, level up and continue on the path to becoming the best version of myself. The next time I’m facing a challenging situation, I’ll remember the resiliency and strength I’ve inherited and lean on these gifts from my ancestors to get through it. And I hope the next time you’re facing adversity, you’ll think of these words and do the same.
Wishing everyone a beautiful closing of this decade and a successful start to 2020,