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These are my thoughts, yo.

Filtering by Tag: authenticity

Reflections Of A Formerly Food Insecure Child

jasmine banks

I pressed by body against the wall. I wedged in between the counter top and the industrial refrigerator. Fear, utter fear, gripped my body as I tore into the foil wrapper. The strangely shaped container was cold under my hand and the foil wrapper pulled back to reveal a creme white goop. I used my hands to eat the  Boston Creme Pie yogurt. My fingers hurt and tore against the opening of the container. I should have used a spoon and I whinced in pain. My 9 year old mind told me, "don't use a spoon, don't leave evidence." I finished off the container and looked at the lettering. It read: Yoplait. Over the picture of a brown and yellow creme pie was scrawled the name, "Sarah".  I don't even remember what it taste like. One moment I was looking in the community refrigerator and the next moment I was overcome with hunger, hurriedly eating and praying no one came into the kitchen. What I was eating didn't belong to me. It belonged to the lady two rooms down from me and my family. My mom, my brother, and I lived in the Enid YWCA. We fled from an abusive home, homeless, and found shelter in the Young Women's Christian Association. Her name was Sarah and she was only a couple of months postpartum. Her face was still bright with purple and red marks. She came to the YWCA to escape the father of her newborn. He liked to hit her, and it was one night too much of her face being his punching bag. I watched Sarah breastfeed her daughter in the media room. I remember her flaxen hair. She always had it pulled back in a purple banana clip. I was astounded at how small her daughter was. I followed Sarah around the shelter watching her, asking her questions, and being overall in awe with how beautiful she was underneath all her bruises.  I finished the yogurt. I cried as I crammed the empty container inside the exposed refrigerator vent. I didn't want to be caught. I was eating someone else's food. It belonged to Sarah, not me. Shame washed over me. I knew I shouldn't take other people's things. I knew it was wrong to steal from Sarah. I liked Sarah. I was a nine year old child who had to choose between doing the right thing by Sarah or answering my hunger. Hunger won. The center required you buy your groceries, mark your name on them , and keep them in the community refrigerator. My family didn't have much. More than that, prior to coming to the center we were squeaking by on food stamps. Food stamps back then, just like now, weren't always enough to stretch and my brother and I frequently felt the sting of empty stomaches stretching to the next packet of colorful government paper bills.

This is the memory of a food insecure child.

Even after we found a semi-permanent home and we moved on from the YWCA, the reality was that my mom was a single woman with limited education and two kids. We survived on food stamps, local food pantries, and random acts of kindness. There were months that our families meals included all ingredients graciously given to us from church and community food organizations.

Today, I still carry guilt and shame and a survival reaction concerning food. My relationship with feeling deprived is a nebulous one. As a mother I struggle to imagine what my mother experienced. How do you tell your kid we don't have dinner tonight... and yet, my mother did on a regular basis.



Rescue Yourself, You Can't Save Them

jasmine banks


You need to hear this. Time and time again you find yourself surrounded by people who are falling apart. What attracted you to them in the first place? Maybe they had that siren call of helplessness that appeals to your inner gift and curse of rescuer. You listen and you listen. You nod and agree. You ask what you can do? You send special notes of encouragement. You look for ways to anticipate needs. What about when you need help?

It is time to stop.

You can't save them.

I know, love. I hear you.

If they'd only listen. If they could only see. There is so much better in this life and you want it for them.

It is time to stop.

You can't save them.

Some people are unwilling to let go of escapable pain. They've learned to be helpless. Somewhere along the line of your life, you've learned to find those who people. They are the ones who help you feel needed. They are the ones who have fire after fire for you to put out.

It is time to rescue yourself.

Will you hear this gentle truth?

You continue to rescue others because you need to be distracted from your own need to rescue yourself. You don't believe you are worth it. You don't believe you are deserving of special notes of love and encouragement. You won't hold the takers in your life to the standard you hold yourself. You let them take and you settle. What are you settling for? When did you learn that you deserved so little love and understanding?

You put out fires to avoid recognizing how truly vulnerable you are. You are both vulnerable and valuable. Will you receive that gentle truth? It feels good in the moment, I know. When you get to save someone from their real or fabricated disaster it feels good to know you've helped. That rescue-helplessness cycle is both a drug and a prison. You love and hate it and need it all at the same time.

It is time to stop.

You can't save them.

It is time to save YOU.

Sabotaging Your Own Happiness

jasmine banks


It was just a moment that you felt it. You know what I am talking about. You felt deep pride in your accomplishments. You felt contentment with where your relationship was. You were peaceful. You only allowed it to happen for a moment, because as soon as you felt that feeling you sabotaged. You whipped out your invisible list of all the reasons you can't be happy and recited them in the town square of your mind. Somewhere along the way you were taught that you didn't deserve happiness, joy, love, connection and contentment. You also crossed off peace and excitement. Someone taught you that rule first, directly or indirectly, and then you adopted it as your own. I am not talking about the hedonistic pursuit of excess. I am not talking about greed or an unquenchable drive for more, more, and more. I am talking about the basic good feelings that counterbalance the pain and fear that we experience because the world isn't perfect. Why don't you believe you deserve them?

In those moments, when your shoulders have loosened and the white noise in your head softens to an almost impossible to hear whisper, you are feeling content. As soon as you realize what that suspect feeling is you kick fight and flight into high gear and search every corner of your relational and emotional surroundings. "People are not to be trusted" also becomes "I can't trust myself to choose the right people to love me and look out for my welfare."

Some people are assholes and don't deserve your trust. But not all. You don't have that kind of luck. It stands to reason you'v met at least a few people who were deeply kind and wanted to love you well. The problem is that you were suspect of them too, so whatever potential was there was likely ignored.

No! Don't do that! Put the mental pencil down. You don't get to add what I am saying to the list of "Why I always fail at everything". This isn't a reprimand. This is a request for you to recognize your rights.

Did you know that you have the right to feel as good as you can? Did you know that taking the easy way out is actually a really good form of self-care. It is a really good way of saying: I will choose gentleness for myself.

What if you let someone help you?

What if you let someone love you?

What if you trusted that you will be safe if you experience peace, because even if the worst happens you are an adult who will be just fine?

What if you stopped sabotaging your own happiness and stopped being so comfortable with the painful path?