It's Getting to Me!
We are home relaxing and resting with our baby boy. After dinner, I get ready to read a spanish book to our baby and get ready for bed. A privilege that I and my partner do not take for granted.
Everyday we are surrounded by youth who have hunger and housing instability. On a daily basis, when I step out of our home, I interact with individuals who are homeless on the streets of Downtown LA, suffer from mental illness and shoot up as I make my walk to the metro. Seeing the red/brownish liquid drug enter the syringe and enter his/her/their vein makes me feel a certain type of way. When my 3 year old son asks me “mama que eso?” I speak the truth and tell him that some people are in pain for many reasons and medicate to to forget. That is what a homie once told me when I was at a coffee shop writing and he asked me to buy him a cup of coffee. He tells me he found Molly on the street and took it. I asked him why, and he confirmed that its to mask the pain of feeling alone, no hope, no job, no home.
My partner joins us on the sofa as we finish our reading and watch a documentary on lions. He sits down and his face tells me something is wrong. I ask, “Love what’s wrong?” He says, “it’s getting to me!” As our son watches the Mama lion play with her cubs, I tell my partner, “what’s getting to you?” He says, “I think about it all the time. Four are now locked up. On any given day, I don’t know if they will return.” I feel and hear the sadness in his voice. This takes me back to that moment when I first met tyson amir, author of Black Boy Poems. Tyson is one of my partner’s dear friends and aside from his recent authorship, he was a long time Math educator in the jails in San Francisco. I recall that moment I asked tyson, “how do you deal with teaching in the jails?” He tells me it definitely changes you.
I ask my partner what exactly he is feeling. He shares that because this is a new emotion for him he does not know exactly how to describe what he feels. He proceeds to tell me that self-care is important for him at this moment because he is internalizing certain emotions. I remind him that we are 100% committed to our self-care because the purpose we have is to serve our people. At times, serving comes at a cost to our mental health and overall wellness. For this reason, I stress to those that I mentor to care for themselves via working out, what they eat and hydrate the soul. This is important to do because when we exclaim to others that it’s getting to me/us, we are better equipped to help ourselves and those we serve.
As I look at my partner and remind him about self-care, I once again ask him how he feels. With a profound sigh he tells me, “this is all new for me. The questions I now ask scholars make me feel heavy.” I tell him to run down the list of questions he now asks scholars. He asks them:
What you serving time for?
Are you released for good or is this temporary?
Is the DA Pushing for a heavy legal sentence?
Do you have a good public defender or will you plead to a lessor charge?
What does life look like for you now that you are not incarcerated?
I ask him how he feels after he asks these series of questions. He tells me that he has changed and constantly thinks about the prison system. He also shares that he wants to keep a journal and write his thoughts out to help him process his emotions. I am proud of him for caring for himself and will support him in this process. After this conversation, I am off to bed with our baby.
Later that night, I awake to the clicking and slamming of the keystrokes as he starts his first journal entry. I am proud of my partner for vocalizing the need for self-care as he supports those he serves.