I’ve had some rough moments that’s taken me to some dark places over my life. This year, I went through a betrayal with one of my “sistahs” that devastated me. The immediate aftereffect was sickness and depression. I am usually a confident, secure black woman, but this incident knocked me off my feet and took me down a path that I had to force myself to shake out of.
In the wake of the suicides of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, I am reminded of my village, who surrounds me with support and love. But, I am also reminded of moments of suffering that made it appear as if my village had disappeared or just didn’t care. As a spiritual black woman and daughter of a preacher, I was taught to pray it away; seek God’s face and comfort. And, although I am a believer in God’s transforming love, I realize that are some situations that require more than faith and belief in God. I also believe that God created us so that we may rely and depend on each other, when needed or necessary.
But, we live in a self-gratification, self-promoting and always “being happy and positive” culture. In my lowest moments, I have felt like I had to paint my smile, fake the laugh and hold in the tears. In reality, I needed to be okay with being sad or mad or disappointed. This also involved seeing a therapist, so I did not stay at this point, but allowed myself to go through the process to become whole again.
In my news feeds full of blog posts, op-eds and articles, I am inundated with statements that express and encourage moving on to the next best thing or person. If it’s making you unhappy or comfortable, then it should be replaced. “Dump the negativity,” “lose the friend” or “divorce the spouse” are common themes. But where would most of us be without conflict? What lessons would we learn? How many marriages would have survived? The truth is, sometimes confrontation is necessary; not just the confrontation with others, but with ourselves. But, more importantly, like my friend Angela reminds me, people are NOT expendable. Aside from abuse, friendships should be cherished and marriages should be fought for the preservation of families.
One thing the suicides of these creative, beautiful souls have taught us is that money and fame do not create happiness or our pretense of it. I am reminded of an episode of BET’s Being Mary Jane, when the main character experienced a betrayal by her long time childhood friend, Lisa. Lisa was a beautiful, successful doctor, but the trauma of love lost and molestation, along with the lost of her best friend, was too much to bare. In the episode, Mary Jane admitted, “I use to ask her a thousand times, “How are you? How are You? But I don’t know if I actually wanted to hear the truth.”
Listening to our truths, along with the truth of others, would eliminate half of the world’s issues. But, as black women and men, we must not be afraid to also tell our truths, even when it’s ugly and messy and unpopular. We must be fearless in showing and exposing our weaknesses, even when our societies demand our strength. We must practice being aware of our daily or biweekly or monthly mental health conditions. We must live in our pain and expose our traumas, so that we can effectively heal, and be the help we need to our communities and self. It becomes important, more than ever, to reach out to say, “Hello,” not just for a quick response, but for an honest answer. Knowing that some people and situations are not expendable may save a life! I’ll start today by saying, “Black Woman, Black Man … I need you!” We need each other.