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I’m convinced that we love Insecure so much because many of us are watching our lives play out on-screen. If episode one of season four, “Lowkey Feelin’ Myself,” didn’t make you delve into your own sisterhoods, then I don’t know what would. The episode so eloquently unveiled the hidden culture of instability in Black sisterhood in relation to the men we’ve dated.

Before the mention of men and exes, both Issa and Condola, Issa’s new business partner, were setting and conquering goals, enjoying lunch dates, laughs and conversation. As their relationship continued it was inevitable that Issa would find out Condola’s new love interest was Lawrence, Issa’s ex. Almost instantly the two women became awkward and found themselves in new insecurities with one another.

As the episode ended, Molly asserted that Issa shouldn’t be cool with the fact that Condola was now dating Lawrence, as if he was now a unicorn never to be pursued by anyone she knew, ever. This is toxic. There is an underlying issue of Black women and our inability to trust other Black women around men of our present and past, and Insecure is finally addressing it.

After the episode, I found myself searching the corridors of my mind in pursuit of my own sisterhoods that were challenged by the introduction or presence of men. Here’s my story:

When I was 15, my momma told me to never leave my “man” alone with a girlfriend.

It was the summer of ’05 or ’06, and the east side of town was the only place a Black girl like me wanted to be. I can still hear the screams from water fights, BBQs at park grills and loud music playing from almost every corner. My boyfriend at the time lived out of town and was visiting on this particular weekend with his older cousin. My best friend lived on the east side, so it was the obvious choice to tell my mom that I would be walking to her house with him. The walk was about eight blocks, which to me was perfect because I got to stroll and show him off to anyone who would be hanging out on front porches or sipping ice cups on the hoods of cars.

Once my mom obliged, I ran out the door — denim shorts, halter top and hair fried straight enough to last me through sundown. Once we arrived at my best friend’s house, we hung out in her yard, living room and pretty much anywhere that kept us out of the way of adults. After what seemed like only a few moments, I realized I’d left my phone at home. My friend, who was already 16 and driving, swooped up her mom’s keys and took my boyfriend and me home to pick up my Nokia 3310.

We pulled up to my house and I hopped out, leaving the other two in the car to wait for me to hurry back. I opened the door with my key and immediately began searching everywhere for my most prized possession. My mom, who sat with her younger sister, had noticed I was back early and asked where my “little friend” was. This was her way of not acknowledging that I had a boyfriend, but not ignoring it either.

“Outside,” I replied. “With Jess.”

“With Jess!?,” she blurted in confusion.

“Yeah, Mom. They’re waiting on me to find my phone, then we’re headed back to her place or the park,” I declared.

“You left your man alone, with your friend?” She paused. “You’re never supposed to do that.”

Jolted by the seriousness of her scoff and the judgy glare from my aunt, I stopped in my tracks mid-exhibition. My mind flooded with thoughts of betrayal. My stomach filled with butterflies of insecurities — insecurities I had never felt before in our friendship. Jess was my best friend, and for the past few years, I had spent every waking moment with her. Every weekend was filled with music, laughs, dancing, getting our nails done and talks about which college we would go to together. She was closer to me than anyone else in my 15-year-old world. I loved her and the sisterhood we built over the years. Never had a seed of doubt or disloyalty been planted in my head about our friendship. Never, until now.

What made matters worse was that my mom and aunt seemed so certain. Making such a declarative statement, as if this were some kind of Black woman law that I should’ve known by now. It felt like I had committed a cardinal sin and whatever level of puppy love I had built with my teen boyfriend was doomed by my wayward action.

I don’t remember if I ever found my phone. I don’t remember even saying goodbye to my mom before heading back out of the front door. I do remember walking outside and seeing my best friend and boyfriend laughing together. I still remember the pit in my stomach as I approached them and they hadn’t broken whatever conversation they were holding to greet me. I remember feeling so worried that I’d lose him to her, as if I’d made some kind of mistake. I prayed that I hadn’t been gone long enough for him to now like her.

15 years later, I still struggle with this notion that my man can’t be left alone with my friends or a woman of any sort. Limiting myself with the chains thrusted on me when I was 15, I have lived in discomfort because I didn’t know that the source was a lie — that the source was bondage. In my youth, I chalked up this distrust to be “how things are.”

Over the years, the rule of not leaving your man alone with a woman grew into, “You protect your man from women. You protect your man from himself, even. Don’t leave any doors open for him to make a mistake.”

My mom meant no harm in her logic. She herself has faced a cyclical amount of pain from women throughout her life. But her perverted view of sisterhood, or lack thereof, has lived in me for almost two decades. I have addressed the symptoms of this perversion but never the source. I’ve stomached friends in communion with men that I’ve dated — with jealousy and discomfort. I’ve policed the women friendships of these men in search of any clues he could be hiding, suggesting an interest outside of kinship. Like Molly, I was taught that my men were my men. Until now, I have never addressed the source.

At 15, I was required to think of Black women as my potential enemy, my competition. I looked at them like they had the power to take something from me that I thought I loved or needed. I now know that the Black woman is me. I am not my enemy, and therefore, neither is she. I want joy, love and happiness for myself, and she wants that for me too. I also recognize that handicapping a man into spaces where he does not “slip and fall” into unfaithfulness fails him too. In my old thinking, his loyalty was tied to my own ability to keep him from the riffraff. I was mainly responsible for him and his security. I was denying his right to be a complete person with the brain capacity to make decisions uninfluenced by my will to control him.

Today I can tell you that my path is begrudging and long, and some days I don’t know where it will end. I have been enthralled in insecurity and discomfort for so long that my stance on finding beauty and compassion in every Black woman I meet is not easy. 15 years of layered mistrust and insecurities that once thrived is no easy beast to tame.

We often praise Beyoncé for her amazing ability to entertain us, or Ava Duvernay for her uncanny gifts in movies and film, but what about the sisters in our circles? The women we haven’t checked upon. The women whose spirits are somehow interconnected with our own. Have we gotten to know them so intimately that we find ourselves in their story? For the women who may make us uncomfortable, have we identified the bondage within ourselves that their presence may bring light to? I encourage us to sit with the thought of each Condola in our lives. Find the root of why their presence makes us uncomfortable.

Maybe it was the Mollys or moms of our lives that have projected their own self-doubt into our worlds. For that, you have full permission to lay down those shackles and to pick up new habits that cultivate a space for you and your sister to not just merely coexist, but to thrive.