Author and motivational speaker Tamarisk M. Locke remembers being repeatedly called aggressive each time she advocated for herself. The Black proverb, "you got me f***ked up" ever-flowed through her mind until she realized she had something that needed to be said, loudly and publicly. That's when the Prichard, Alabama, native took to writing. The result was a self-care, boundary-setting workbook aptly named You Got Me F**ked Up.
"The title was how I felt as I typed the pages," Locke told Blavity. "It stuck because I knew I wasn’t the only one that felt in such a way, yet bottled it inside because of circumstances. Being a past people pleaser gave me direct insight and the ability to share a process with others that I knew was needed across various platforms. I wanted the title to grab the attention of us, people of color, and speak in a way that some of us may have felt at one time or another."
Speaking directly to Black people allowed Locke to hone in on a particular topic that has caused a lifelong debate between ultimate self-care practices and respecting familial elders.
In a section of her book titled "Family," Locke tells readers that neither age nor rank deems someone safe from protecting your peace:
"Family appears to be repeat offenders when it comes to having you f**ked up. They sweep
transgressions under the rug, constantly disrespect boundaries, accuse you of acting different, take
advantage because they hold a certain rank in the family, hold a sense of entitlement to you and
whatever it is that you have worked for, and often insert themselves into your life in positions that
you did not ask them to come into. Your growth of any kind is seen as you are acting funny and
thinking you are better than everybody. Often their behavior is accepted because they are family,
and we fear losing them or even standing up for ourselves to them. Mama, daddy, sister, brother,
cousin, great auntie twice removed, in-laws, and brother from another mother, no matter the title
they hold they should still give you the respect of simply being a human being. Anything is possible
and you can still tell them that they have you f**ked up, respectfully."
As the title phrase is intentionally sprinkled throughout the book, Locke warns in her opening that readers who have issues with profanity should steer clear of the workbook. Her intent in the word choice, however, is plain as she writes, "Being polite was not enough."
A major highlight of the workbook is a large section that seeks to help readers decide ways to craft boundaries. Features include a "F**ked Up Scale," which allows the reader to think of people in their lives as they peruse situational sentences and assign points to them in an effort to see just how f**ked up those people have them. There's also a section that describes a variety of scenarios in different settings including the workplace, friendships, family and other intimate relationships.
"Boundary setting is often more difficult with those that have had access to us the longest," Locke writes ahead of pages designed to help the reader determine the habitual line steppers in their lives.
These pages invite the reader to consider transgressions they'd like to see addressed, how they felt in those moments and how they'd like to see future interactions play out. Perfectly paired in this area of the workbook are instructions on standing firm in the use of the word "no" as a complete sentence, but also ways to decline something without ever using the word.
One suggestion is that the reader focus on gentle sentences that extend the notion of discomfort while avoiding unnecessary confrontation, such as "I really like that movie, however, because the kids are in the room with us we should watch something else."
"No can liberate you from people-pleasing… This is simply saying that boundaries are good, hold firm to them and if the need ever arises, do not feel bad for telling someone they got you f**ked up," Locke writes.
In conjunction with her book, the self-published author who created Namaste 'N' Ish Publishing to support her writing dreams also has products to accompany her words, such as Sittin' Pretty Herbal bath soak, Stress Me Not bath oil, F Dem Kids essential oil blend, herbal teas, branded merchandise and even a boundary and self-love deep dive session titled, I Know You F**kin' Lyin'. As with the book, some of the products were designed completely from her own experiences.
"The postpartum care line was an extension of a life event I experienced and at the moment there was very little natural help," she said. "It just so happened that the products could be used to assist general experiences of low mood, stress, anxiety and anger related to stress, whether you birthed a child or not."
Postpartum depression was a muse in the creation of the workbook, too, and received a shout-out in the acknowledgment section: "To postpartum depression, you got me f**ked up," Locke writes.
The overall theme, however, is self-care.
"Addressing yourself first and holding yourself accountable before responding to others is key," Locke said. "When you love yourself, you hold different standards for what you allow into your space. Self-care is self-love and is the ultimate boundary. However, setting boundaries can also clear the road to self-love. They work hand in hand."
"Remember, you are always the priority over family, relationships, friendships, children and careers/jobs," she added. "The other person’s perception is not your problem, only your delivery."
While you'll likely complete her workbook feeling empowered to let somebody know how they got you f**ked up, Locke cautions that you should still move with "discernment and safety."
"Do not put yourself in a situation just to be able to tell someone off," she writes. "Everyone doesn't need access to your energy and sometimes that means not addressing every little thing."
Peace is, after all, a part of setting boundaries.
You Got Me F**ked Up is available at Tamariskl.com.