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  • Writer's pictureDr. Speshal Walker Gautier a.k.a. Dr. Spesh

Sis, Sometimes you gotta slide off…

So it’s been a piping hot minute. The wild thing is I didn’t actually plan or intend to slide off. The last time I wrote a Sis Love letter, I was in the midst of doing all the things. You know typical Black woman energy with no ounce of chill. On the professional end of life, I was working full-time running a team at a hospital, running my own private practice, and blogging on the reg. On the personal end of life, I was packing up and selling my house, and purchasing a new house, all while literally creating a human being. Yes Sis, I was pregnant and still doing all the things. The irony is despite being stretched thin, it was also a place of comfort for me. I am all too familiar with doing all the things at the same damn time. Sound familiar? If you are like me you may have perpetually lived in a space of comfortable chaos. It's that space where Black women function at unsustainably high levels, giving 110% to everyone and everything except for themselves. Despite my knowledge as a seasoned psychologist and my belief in the power of mindfulness meditation, I have an ongoing battle with sitting still. But then life invited me to slow down…

The transition between homes did not go as planned. I will spare the details and just say there was a gap because the new home was not ready until well after the sale date of the old home. So I had to figure out another place to live both literally and figuratively. My husband and I literally needed a place to live, and mentally, I needed a place to live that was different from the comfortable chaos that I have become all too accustomed to. Life gave me a moment to realize that I had to slide off from some things. The funny thing is that this realization did not occur to me at that moment, but I was open to receiving a much-needed pause and reset.

Being uprooted from my space killed my writing vibe. I lacked the mental and physical energy that enabled me to sit with my thoughts and get them on paper. Not to mention, I was also sharing mental and physical space with a growing baby. The human body is amazing and at the same time being pregnant and Black can be a reminder of the current and historical injustices highlighted through disproportionate rates of Black maternal mortality rates. This weighed heavy on my mind and reared its ugly head through unconscious bias in the healthcare system as well as racial inequity in my workplace. As if that was not enough, I was simultaneously coming to grips with the fact that my staff psychologist position at the hospital was burning me out. I made the very difficult decision to leave a system that I had worked in for nearly a decade to prevent compromising the person and therapist I wanted to be. I knew that I could not show up for myself, my family, or for my patients if I allowed myself to get depleted. I decided to fully transition into private practice in hopes of creating more balance and flexibility in my life.

I would be lying if I said that since then I’ve ascended to some fully realized version of myself and I’m out killing it in the balance and boundaries game. Let’s be real, I have a toddler. Also, if it were that easy to get rid of old patterns the world wouldn’t need psychologists. That being said, I have become more intentional about letting up off the gas pedal. Black women are notorious for trying to do all the things and it is up to us to give ourselves permission to pipe down. We have to give ourselves permission and grace even when the world we live in will not. I share this to be transparent about why I’ve been MIA but also to invite you to give yourself permission to take space where needed.

In the wise words of Audre Lorde,

Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

*Dr. Spesh is an Atlanta-based Clinical Psychologist, blogger, and diversity consultant.*

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