Internalized Racism

Must stop worrying. I’m worried about how to best serve God. I’m worried about current responsibilities. I’m worried about my double vision. I’m even worried about the Prickly Pear cactus in my front yard because it’s not looking right. I’ve done everything I can at this time for each issue so I need to stop obsessing! Just stop.

The bus stop by my house.
The bus stop by my house.

 On Wednesday night I had a choir rehearsal at First Presbyterian Church downtown at 7:15 PM. I didn’t have a ride but decided to take the bus since the route is an easy one. I took the early bus because it tends to run late and I wanted to be on time for rehearsal

Riding the bus put me in touch with my internalized racism. I don’t like to admit this but because of my background as middle-class white women, sometimes my stomach clutches a little inside when I see a person of color. I know how to hide this but I hate it. I made a point to talk to the man in question about general things which is so important when one gets into this state.

Doing this used a lot of cognitive energy though and I needed every ounce of it for the rehearsal. I often think, “Is it too much for me to go to that meeting?” Will I be overloaded if I go to that rehearsal? If I make that phone call, will I have enough cognitive energy for my meeting?” One of my challenges is monitoring cognitive energy and stimulation. Facing my internalized racism is hard for anyone because it takes a lot of self- awareness as well as cognitive energy.

Since I haven’t taken the bus in a while, I didn’t realize it doesn’t go into the station now because of a sinkhole so I missed my stop. As time went on, I realized we were going back to West Asheville. I asked the driver if we had stopped at the station and he told me about the sinkhole.

So I ended up having to ride the whole route again which took an hour. When I got to the rehearsal, I was exhausted and grouchy. I had to get used to a new environment and the Sanctuary had spotlights which shone directly into my eyes. To make matters worse, the guest conductor seemed impatient and testy. Following the rehearsal, I just wanted to go directly home and was under the impression this would happen. I then discovered my ride needed to return to the church due to car pool arrangements.

I could feel my emotions intensifying quickly which happens when I’m tired and frustrated. If I push myself much beyond that point, I lose complete control of my emotions and lash out at whoever and whatever is there. I’ve learned how to catch myself prior to this point by leaving the situation but this wasn’t an option.

Fortunately, a couple of folks stepped up who are aware of what happens when I get overstimulated and offered to take me home on their way to the church. I really was on the edge so I’m grateful this happened.

If you have a brain injury, how do you react when you are overstimulated? What compensatory strategies do you use? Some folks do not have this challenge as much as I do so it may not be a problem. Its clear folks without brain injuries also have limits. If that is you, what are your limits and how do you take care of yourself?