Bastard Chronicles: Lessons Learned from a Hangover or ReTell Therapy
I host my Griot Circle on Thursdays after school. It’s the best use of an hour and fifteen minutes I could
ever imagine. Even when I’m drained from the day; even when I have nan an iota of nice to spare, the
emphatic response my students give justify me stretching the limits of my patience to its barest thread.
A few Thursdays back, the threat of freezing rain caused us to suspend all afternoon activities. Although
I wasn’t excited about missing my griots, I took this as a divine sign that I prolly needed to sit my narrow
ass down somewhere. Then I got the phone call.
“Hey, are you still at school?”
“Nah, I’m already at home. You know they canceled all after school programs.”
“Yes, I know. I was just hoping you were here. (Insert student’s name) is in the hallway crying like a
baby. And this ain’t no girlfriend stuff. He’s really hurting!”
(Mind reeling and pulse racing)
“Where is he now?”
“I just left. He was with Dr. (insert educator’s name).”
(Phone rings way too many times.)
“Hey, is here there with you now?”
“Yes. It’s Mr. Jackson. You wanna talk to him?”
The contents of the conversation are to remain confidential. But, there honestly isn’t much to report. He
didn’t give great detail about what was wrong. But he had a moment to breathe and felt a little better. I
made him take my number and told him that even if he just needed to text, I’d be there: even if all he
needed was me to listen. I told him that I’d been recently learning how to accept help and give rightful
attention to my emotions. I know it’s hard for you, lil homie; it has been especially hard for me.
He hasn’t called me.
But we dap in the hallway and I remind him that I’m there. Hell, I think I’m
reminding myself that I’M here.
This reflection is brought to you by hangovers and their uncanny ability to turn each of us into a
healthcare scientist for a few moments. You have to know what I’m talking about. We start measuring
how much water we need, the types of fatty foods to help us process, and the myriad ways we can
pump Vitamin C into our immune system.
Lemme lay down for 30 minutes.
I gotta use the bathroom. Maybe I’ll take another shot.
Nah, that’s how we got here in the first place.
Follow me here: self-care shares a lot in common with hangovers. We could easily stop taking shots
when our legs began to feel like rubber bands. Or, at least we could have downed a class of water before
the next Whiskey. We could have remembered that drinking on an empty stomach is always a recipe for
disaster. We could have decided to have beer or wine; but no, we pushed it to the limit. Because it felt
good and because although we knew what to expect, there was no guarantee we would be hungover. By
the grace of Bob, we know we’ve dodged that bullet before.
And so, we treat our traumas the same EXACT way. I know I need some time off, but I gotta meet this
deadline. My team needs me. Or, in my case, these kids need me. It starts to feel like everyone and
everything gets to need me but ME. And that shit simply ain’t right. Much like the hangover, I’ve rolled
the dice hoping that tomorrow would magically provide me peace.
And that’s the thing! Sometimes we’re just lucky enough to not get a hangover. But is that how we
wanna live our lives? Rico told you (at least a version of it), “People get hangovers everyday, B!”
So, my words to you that are really solely for myself--- People die everyday, B! People wake up
miserable everyday, B! So, no one is going to champion your self-love. Many of them are just waking up
hoping to not be hungover. Many of them will not be successful in that avocation.
My student didn’t catch his (metaphorical) hangover in time. I don’t think he was aware of the
symptoms. And every pain he encountered, he probably thought he could handle it. He probably
thought it would subside. He thought this would suppress it. He hoped that would suppress it. He
thought his own medicine would be enough to cure his own ills. And while we are equipped to heal
ourselves, we are not equipped to heal ourselves ALONE. And maybe your shaman is closer than you
So, maybe. Just maybe. Let’s take each day as though we may have a hangover tomorrow. Maybe we
gotta fear a hangover every day until we’ve learned a healthy way to approach this recreation of life. I
don’t have the answer. I just know that no one is more acutely aware of the impact of each and every
stimuli like a person whose head is splitting and stomach churning.