Growing up, I had a deep understanding of our spiritual power as people of African descent and of our humanity as Black people.

And I was also very aware of systemic oppression and the impact it’s had on us.

I’m the eldest daughter of three and I come from a family of activists, educators and healers. From my grandparents, Johnnye & Andrew Goodrich, both college professors who housed Freedom Riders in their home in Tennessee in 1961, to my mother who introduced me to healing by watching her connect with our ancestors to keep us all safe.

My Origin Story

It Still Seeped In...

Coming from a family of social justice activists, however, didn’t fully insulate me from believing the things that systems like sexism, anti-Black racism, capitalism, patriarchy and classism desired that I believe about myself and my place in the world. It still seeped in and it came in through the most insidious ways.

It came in through the church, it came in through romantic partners, it came in through how my child mind interpreted the verbal abuse and intimate partner violence being directed at my mother from my father…and the thousands of miles that stood between my biological father and I.

“Are you sure, sweetheart, that you want to be well? Just so’s you’re sure, sweetheart, and ready to be healed, cause wholeness is no trifling matter.
A lot of weight when you’re well.”

- Toni Cade Bambara,The Salt Eaters

unearth

I made intentional time to unearth all the lies I’d been told and the lies I’d told myself about my self-worth, my value, God, my Blackness, my body, my gender, my sexual expression, my purpose and more…and I wrote down each and every lie.

understand

Without blame or shame, I sought to understand the root of each lie; who/what planted the seed of the lie within me, and how it manifests in my life through my actions. Taking a step further, I sought to understand which system of oppression each lie was connected to.

unchain

Once I identified the lie, its root, and how it manifested in my life, I simply asked myself “Does that feel like liberation?” If the answer was “No”, I gave myself permission to envision “What would liberation from this lie…this chain…look like, feel like, sound like?”

My path toward becoming a spiritual life coach started with my own healing journey yet, looking back, I realize I’ve been honing my skills since I was a child. A lot of weight when you’re well.”

It were those very skills that kept me alive and shaped me into the type of coach + facilitator I am today. The skills I use as a coach and as a person who curates spaces for healing and transformation were cultivated in high school (circa 1996) by being a part of a peer mentoring group called, Sankofa – a word in the Twi language of Ghana that means “go back and get it”. And we were taught to hold this proverb close: “Se wo were fi na wosankofa a yenkyi,” which translates to: “It is not wrong to go back for that which you have forgotten.”

My path toward becoming a spiritual life coach started with my own healing journey yet, looking back, I realize I’ve been honing my skills since I was a child. A lot of weight when you’re well.”

As folks were navigating through the conflict that naturally occurs during high school, I was one of the Sankofa peer mentors that the school administration called on to facilitate restorative justice processes, before that language was being used as widely as it is today. So instead of them being sent to the principal’s office, there was a team of peer mentors they could connect with to work out whatever the issue was, in a less authoritarian way. This was where I got to practice the skills of effective conflict transformation, deep listening to identify what was at the root of the inter/intrapersonal conflict, being able to identify what was at the root of someone’s pain and anger, being able to create a path forward where everyone’s humanity is intact and people feel safe, seen and heard. And yes, it’s wild that I was doing this at such a young age. However…the origin of my skills didn’t start with peer mediation…

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I was raised in a home where the joy and laughter we experience one day could easily shift to abuse of all kinds the next, mostly directed toward my mother.

No matter how loved and supported I felt by my parents, and no matter how much pride and self-worth they instilled in me as a Black girl, witnessing and being on alert that the energy could shift and violence could happen at any moment was traumatic.

02. No matter how loved and supported I felt by my parents, and no matter how much pride and self-worth they instilled in me as a Black girl, witnessing and being on alert that the energy could shift and violence could happen at any moment was traumatic.

03. No matter how loved and supported I felt by my parents, and no matter how much pride and self-worth they instilled in me as a Black girl, witnessing and being on alert that the energy could shift and violence could happen at any moment was traumatic.

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While experiencing success in school and being supportive to my peers...

The experiences of trauma still created narratives within me that constantly affirmed the beliefs I’d developed over time that I wasn’t good enough:

• That I “have to work twice as hard” as a Black girl… because I’m not good enough and I was starting with a deficit.

• That since my biological father and my step-father, at different points of my life, chose not to be fully a part of my life meant… I’m not good enough for any man to stay in my life. (a belief also affirmed by being cheated on in romantic relationships).

• That I need to present myself as “perfect” to be worthy of love…because who I am, as I am, isn’t good enough.

• That even God says my “good deeds are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6) so nothing I ever do, no matter how good, will ever measure up as pleasing to God, or anyone else.

While experiencing success in school and being supportive to my peers...

The experiences of trauma still created narratives within me that constantly affirmed the beliefs I’d developed over time that I wasn’t good enough:

• That I “have to work twice as hard” as a Black girl… because I’m not good enough and I was starting with a deficit.

• That since my biological father and my step-father, at different points of my life, chose not to be fully a part of my life meant… I’m not good enough for any man to stay in my life. (a belief also affirmed by being cheated on in romantic relationships).

• That I need to present myself as “perfect” to be worthy of love…because who I am, as I am, isn’t good enough.

• That even God says my “good deeds are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6) so nothing I ever do, no matter how good, will ever measure up as pleasing to God, or anyone else.

I can’t quite place the moment of being fed up with this narrative.

But as a student on the campus of North Carolina A&T State University I developed a deeper understanding of systems of oppression and I started making some critical connections. I knew something wasn’t right…

My healing journey began with me questioning…everything.

What do I truly believe…and where did it come from?

What are the things I actually believe about myself…and where did that come from?

It was my social justice upbringing and what I was learning in college that supported me by being the lens through which I examined ALL of my beliefs even further.

Unearth

self - actualization

Asking Myself the Hard Questions

Asking, “So which of my beliefs about myself are rooted in sexism? anti-Blackness? white supremacy? capitalism?” And guess what, EVERY self-limiting belief was directly connected to a system of oppression.

It was clear…
it was intended for me to believe these things about myself.

Once I realized that, I held up each belief I had about God, myself, my gender and sexual expression, relationships, my body and more – and asked myself “Does this feel like liberation?” And if the answer was “no”, I did the deep work of disentangling my identity from it, called it what it was (a lie) and I gave myself permission to let it go. I then visioned what liberation looked like, smelled like, sounded like, felt like emotionally, mentally, sexually, spiritually, physically and financially…and created liberating truths to break the chains of those lies.

setting myself free first

Modeling beloved ancestor Harriet Tubman, I knew I had to set myself free first to know that it was even possible…before I could become a guide supporting others in remembering who they are, and setting themselves free, too. No coercion, no force…an invitation.

Finding alignment

Through my own healing journey and years of sitting at the feet of some of the most skilled elders, spiritual coaches and community healers in the African Diaspora, I honed my practice and learned how to bring these skills into alignment with the emotional, mental and spiritual wellness I desired to embody.

“Before working with Erika, I was stuck.

I felt purposeless...and I couldn't figure out how to get out of it.”

– Nyesha Trusty