My mother grew up in the segregated south, Starkville, Mississippi, to be exact. Her parents moved to California in the early 60s just as the Freedom Fighters, as Mom calls them, came to town putting the residents in grave danger. My mother was finishing her last year of high school. She stayed with a neighbor until she graduated, and armed with a few sandwiches and few dollars, she boarded a bus for a four-day trip to California. It was a dangerous time for a young black girl to travel anywhere, let alone unaccompanied in the segregated south. When I asked her how she did it, she replied:
"I just put my gorilla suit on."
That phrase came from my grandfather. When he found himself faced with something difficult, he would say, "I guess I have to put my gorilla suit on."
When I finally left my marriage and, with the help of a powerful lawyer, negotiated a fair divorce settlement, my mother said:
"I knew you still had that gorilla suit."
What I know now is that I always had my gorilla suit. It seemed to surface when my children were in trouble, or when a neighbor needed a hand. What I also know is that our fierce gorilla warrior is not something we put on, it is something we pull out. My warrior woman self lives inside of me and always has. If we find ourselves in a difficult situation or engaged in a battle that seems beyond our means, we can call out the woman gorilla warrior that lives inside us all.
Affirmations to say in the mirror to yourself during a time of trial at least twice a day:
I release the need to be a victim in this situation
I release all fear and all doubt
I call on my inner woman gorilla warrior to guide me through this time of trial
"A warrior never worries about his [or her] fear." - Carlos Castaneda