Apr 3 • 12M

I Was In Fetal Position...

When news impacts me deeply, I know it's about more than Will, Chris & Jada.

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My botox here was so egregious when I introduced Malcolm Gladwell at this 92Y Talk, someone really should have slapped me. Crazy eyes, anyone? 👀 (I’m joking. About the slapping. Not the Bo-bo.)


Last week’s Will Smith/Chris Rock debacle had me in fetal. I had just come back from a Spring Break trip with my children, was knee deep in opening boxes/mail/dealing with the fact that I took someone else’s f-ing luggage home with me and mine was still at the airport (Best. 🔪 Feeling. 🔪 Ever. 🔪) and I noticed some comments on IG suggesting something epic had happened on the Oscars. I don’t have live TV (Do you?), so I quickly found the video. I was flattened.

You may remember, my practice is not to get too deep into the story - the narrative, so to speak - of what’s happening when shit goes sideways. So instead of ranting about Will vs. Chris (Okay, I did a little on my friend, E. Jean Carroll’s wonderful Substack – her comment section is poppin’ btw…unlike mine! 🙃), I sat, with curiosity, with why I was so impacted by what had transpired between these two men, because obviously, I don’t really know anyone involved. But I believe when we’re triggered by things happening Out There, it’s about something important for us In Here. So, the next morning, I went on a deep internal dive with the help of my therapist.

Atoosa’s Therapy: Oscars Edition.  Spoiler alert: I was bawling within minutes.

My first thought when I went inside my body (and in turn, my psyche) was Why doesn’t anyone care about Chris? Why aren’t we asking if he’s okay? Is he okay? He was assaulted. He was just doing his job. It’s a scripted show. He was beat up at work. Add to it that he has a learning disability that affects his ability to read social cues. Did that impact why he didn’t just walk off stage? And why was his perpetrator allowed to just sit back down and get celebrated as the King just a few minutes later?

And you know where this is going, right?

I was projecting myself on Chris, and my family on the Academy. Why didn’t they care when I was molested by my family member? Why was he still invited to all the family gatherings? Why does my family, to this day, kind of just cringe and energetically look away when the topic comes up? Chris, like me, handled the whole thing so seamlessly. He didn’t skip a beat. I didn’t skip a beat. I guess I could have been totally fucked up. I mean, it would make sense to be fucked up if you grow up hunted like an animal in your own home, right? But I wasn’t fucked up. At least, not in the ways that count to our society. Like Chris, I was resilient. The show must go on. I went to a good college, grew up to be successful, a “role model.” I bought my mom the very house I was attacked in every day. Smiled magnanimously every time I went back there for gatherings and everyone ooohed and aaahed over my latest accomplishment. Went on to have my own “model” family. Of course, now I have the awareness that I had created this perfect shell to cover up for the fact that I was not okay at all. I felt abandoned. Totally worthless. Like no one had my back. Even though today I really am finally largely okay, this part of me is still wounded. This part still needed further expression…

So I wept.

I wept about how my mom contracts away from me when the topic comes up. I wept about how every single morning and afternoon I have to walk by my perpetrator’s father’s car as I take my child to and from school. I wept about how my mom recently told me that he and his wife would be happy to help me with my daughter if I’d like. I mean, it’s not like THEY molested me, but you understand right? I don’t want to talk about my children and that family in one sentence. Not when the only person who has done any work on healing has been me. Everyone else is just pretending like it never happened. It just shows a level of tone deafness that has, honestly, made it very hard for me to have a full reconciliation with my mother. Even this tone deafness was mirrored by the Academy beginning with their first Tweet about the incident: “The Academy does not condone violence of any form. Tonight we are delighted to celebrate our 94th Academy Awards winners, who deserve this moment of recognition from their peers and movie lovers around the world.”






I say that on behalf of all victims of abuse…including Will Smith. No one is being served when we smile tightly and look the other way. Our society’s discomfort with discomfort is what creates situations like this all over the place.

Sorry for that foray into narrative but momma had some shit to say. Anyway…

My point in sharing this today is not to necessarily revisit my history of abuse. But just a timely reminder that everything that happens out in the world is an avatar for stuff inside us that needs to be processed. Shaun King nailed it when he said that whole incident was a Rorschach test. What I saw in it, was what I needed to process. I cried so much during my therapy session. I sobbed for the little girl who was abused and didn’t stop or ruin the show. She just kept going and performing until she literally had to stop. And that’s when I retired. Conversely, I have talked to other friends who really felt for Will…or Jada. Someone messaged me saying they thought both men were awful and “Men Suck.” Again, I’m sure that speaks to that person’s past trauma. All valid. All grist for our respective and proverbial mills.

This one unfortunate spectacle, pregnant with so much pain and trauma, also contained such potent medicine for those of us willing to look inward, instead of outward.

In this era when we are lulled to sleep by social media and pinged awake by newsflashes, let’s remember that the narrative we’re being fed is not what’s most important. To feed and strengthen our souls, which can get so deeply malnourished in this externally focused culture…Wait…Let me speak for myself. MY soul feels malnourished. MY soul needs extra care. I will use what moves me in the world Out There to access what I need to move inside my own inner world. I will not get caught up with the Kardashians…or death scrolling. (Notice, I didn’t list Bridgerton because I got swept right up into that shit like a Nimbus 2022.)

It's so easy to get into it. Whether it’s drama at work, in your family or on the news. What I got out of the past week is just a reminder to drop the narrative, tap into the feelings and see what part of memory lane it leads me down. Even truly horrific situations that are happening all over the country and the world: If something in particular is making you spiral, consider this same application: We do what we actually can do (donate money, time, fill-in-the-blank), but outside of that, our anxiety isn’t useful. What’s useful is to explore what specifically about the situation is resulting in our intense feelings. I assure you there is something personal in there waiting for you to excavate and heal. And this is how we can all contribute to living in a more soulful world. How we help the world is not with our righteous anger on Twitter or otherwise. How we help the world is by allowing its suffering to soften, season and shift us. By allowing it’s fire to change us like Rumi’s Chickpea.

Chickpea to Cook
Rumi (Translated by Coleman Barks)
A chickpea leaps almost over the rim of the pot
where it’s being boiled.
“Why are you doing this to me?”
The cook knocks him down with the ladle.
“Don’t you try to jump out.
You think I’m torturing you.
I’m giving you flavor,
So you can mix with spices and rice
And be the lovely vitality of a human being.
Remember when you drank rain in the garden.
That was for this.”
Grace first. Sexual pleasure,
Then a boiling new life begins,
And the Friend has something good to eat.
Eventually the chickpea
Will say to the cook,
                                 “Boil me some more.
Hit me with the skimming spoon.
I can’t do this by myself.
I’m like an elephant that dreams of gardens
back in Hindustan and doesn’t pay attention
to his driver. You’re my cook, my driver,
my way into existence. I love your cooking.”
The cook says,
                              “I was once like you,
fresh from the ground. Then I boiled in time,
and boiled in the body, two fierce boilings.
My animal soul grew powerful.
I controlled it with practices,
and boiled some more, and boiled
once beyond that,
                                    and became your teacher.”

Everything that jams me up is there for my growth. It is there for your growth. The world is our virtual reality and is the medicine for our opening and deepening…if we are brave enough to use it. Continued to be honored to walk this path with you. Here for it, 24/7, as always at atoosa@atoosa.com.

xo, atoosa

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