By Akilah Nehanda
Today I went to a rehabilitation meeting for women in order to observe and listen to the troubles my sisters are going through. The women in the room ranged from 19 to 50 years of age from the looks of it. There was pain in that room. There was humility in that room. But most importantly there was healing and hope that life could get better in that room. Both presenters said things I needed to hear for my life and I had never done drugs or been a prostitute. It shows you how principles of attitude, etiquette, righteousness, and appearance is not a “hurt human” thing, its just a human thing. Period. Lessons we all must learn in order to be become upstanding citizens or remain upstanding citizens for self and society.
I left that place feeling focused and determined to make myself stronger in order to be of help to those who fight just to have strong thoughts let alone strong actions. However, I couldn’t help but think how sometimes experience is the best teacher and that because I didn’t live what some might call a hard life my approach to others extreme pain will naturally be different.
Now, in this society we use the term “sheltered” when we refer to girls and boys who didn’t grow up witnessing close encounters of extreme dysfunction. We use the word sheltered when girls and boys surroundings don’t necessarily reflect the harsh realities of crime rates, illiteracy, sexual abuse, and mental illness that several people deal with on a daily basis in America and all over the world.
Being “sheltered” has a negative connotation to it. Lets just be all the way honest about that! However, being sheltered should not be synonymous with being clueless. Being sheltered is not synonymous with being arrogant. Being sheltered should simply be synonymous with what it means; which is, being protected from the “elements” that could cause danger or harm. When we look at it this way there technically is nothing wrong with being “sheltered” from such an insane civilization as this (which appears to be getting more insane by the minute). But the truth of the matter is, in this society, the average sheltered person is IN FACT clueless to the harsh realities of our society and are IN FACT arrogant at times because of a lack of understanding as to how people end up the way they do. This is the true problem of the sheltered phenomenon.
This is the part that sometimes parents often miss when doing all the protecting. I’m blessed that my mom prayed for balance in my life and so God gave me just that. I was able to visit places where I could see things for what they were without having to live with it. Doing small things like feeding the homeless, taking your clothes to the salvation army, working in schools, and talking to women and men in shelters who not only were addicts but might still be addicts. These things keep you apart of the conversation and aware that you don’t live in a small bubble utopia.
We all wish we could protect and be protected. We all wish we hadn’t seen or experienced certain things in life that caused us trauma. Yes, even the “sheltered” person has their fair share of shocking and traumatic experiences. Nobody escapes trauma in this type of society. But the thing that we all must do whether sheltered or a student of the streets or a little mix of both, is help change the PRESENT condition of the way we think so that we can prevent others, especially those younger and the unborn to not have to experience the same types of painful experiences that we have had or witnessed other people have. That is the duty of both the sheltered and unsheltered. Now the sheltered person has almost a bigger responsibility in some ways because they don’t have the same type of emotional baggage as many of those who have been through the fire. Everybody knows that the one with the lighter luggage in the group of travelers can get to the gate faster to tell the gate agent to hold the door for the rest of her family behind still running to catch the flight. In that moment you’re not talking down on her because she has a lighter load, your screaming and cheering her on to hurry and make it the gate because you know once they see her face they know she represents the rest who are still coming and running.
So I say never be ashamed of your story. Never be ashamed for not having as much drama as the next person. Never be ashamed for having more drama than the next person. Neither person is better than the other. Comparisons just distract you from the goal of self improvement. And remember, if you get preoccupied looking at how many bags this person or that person has it will only slow you down and that plane to paradise (peace of mind) will take off without you and you’ll have to catch the later one. But if you just run as fast as you can, determined, and focused on making that flight you will never be denied!!…unless of course the gate agent is a jerk but good thing this is just an analogy and in real life you’re depending on God, not a gate agent. (smile)