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Surviving Girlhood Fragility and Ancestral Trauma


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In this week’s episode, we speak with Reelaviolette Botts-Ward about “peeling back the layers” of two powerful sentiments: ancestral grieving and embodied remembering. She is a “Jane of all trades,” an author, professor, professional speaker, and mental health advocate. She’s the author of mourning my inner[blackgirl]child, a current PhD candidate, and the founder of BlackWomxnHealing. Join us for this engaging conversation.

What Is Ancestral Grieving?

Reelaviolette has coined the phrase “ancestral grieving” to describe the unaddressed grief that her ancestors carried due to their life circumstances, which have been passed down to her. She’s become aware of them in the process of her own healing, uncovering the pain she’s endured to break intergenerational curses that could be passed down to her own descendants. But along with these griefs, Reelaviolette discovered that her female ancestors had their own modalities of healing. She works to learn them for herself, helping her and her descendants on their journey.

What Is Embodied Remembering?

Reelaviolette says that in response to trauma, all humans disassociate from the events that have caused them pain. This often takes the form of denying certain aspects of themselves, their personality, and their being. Through the journey of sensory healing, she’s able to remember and reclaim those parts of herself.She speaks of these things in greater detail in her book, mourning my inner[blackgirl]child.

Unlearning What We’ve Learned from Black Women of the Past

Reelaviolette shares her story as an illustration of why she needed to learn to unlearn what many black women of the past have taught their descendants. She references her mother, who was engaged in an intense battle with depression and emotional instability. Today, Reelaviolette is unlearning the unhealthy ways of life she learned from her mother. She is now mothering herself and discovering how to avoid repeating dysfunctional habits.

Listen to this episode to learn about...

  • [1:04] Ancestral grieving
  • [3:41] The power of embodied remembering
  • [4:52] Reconciling ancestral traumas 
  • [9:06] Why childhood is the most sacred time of life
  • [11:48] Happy to Be Nappy: The Black Hair Journey

Listen to the bonus episode to learn about the dynamic of inclusivity within the female African American community and the mission behind Reelaviolette’s BlackWomxnHealing.