WE ARE: 5 women navigating our twenties in search of peace, happiness and love (or not). WE WRITE: about everything and nothing. From the insane to the mundane- you will find different paths taken, lessons learned and lives lived. WE THINK: you’ll enjoy it...Warning: Consumption of these views may leave you enlightened while intoxicated.


The View From Here will conclude on Friday, October 1, our third year anniversary. We would like to spend this month thanking all of our readers, followers, haters, visitors, family, friends, and fans for your continued support, encouragement, and comments over these past few years. Thanks y'all!
-The Five Spot

Friday, November 30, 2007

I'm Not Your Superwoman

So what exactly do y’all think would happen if I gave up my Strong Black Woman card for a few hours, a few days, a few weeks, shit a few years even? Would I ever get it back or would it be permanently revoked? I understand that as Black women we are supposed to be all things to everybody cause that’s how our mamas did it, our grandmamas did it, they mamas mamas did it…that’s how us Black women have survived through slavery, brutal rapes, family separation, Jim Crow, the Great Migration, segregation, discrimination, racism, strife, disease, poverty, and just regular day-to-day living. But I gotta admit something, I’m tired. I need a break. And I don’t even have kids or a husband, so I can only imagine the extra stress those things bring.

I do have what seems to be that innate gene in Black women that makes us feel that we have to carry the world on our backs, like Atlas. But what if we shrugged? What if we took time for ourselves and did what made us happy for once? Forget what our friends, our family, our church, our co-workers, our men (or the man we tryna get) say we need to do, should be doing, haven’t done, please volunteer for this, please cook something and bring it to the potluck, teach Sunday School, chair this committee, read this essay for your cousin applying to college, help mama with this, the dishes need doing, your husband or man needs loving, the kids noses need wiping…what if we just said fuck it all and lived for us?

This subject has been on my mind since I saw Keyshia Cole’s reality show The Way It Is on BET. Her sister Neffe went to a medical facility to be tested for STD’s because she found out that her last partner was a drug user. What she found out instead was that she was 6 weeks pregnant. Now this is a woman who already has 3 children, who is separated from her husband and has had a lifetime of hardships and strife. When she found out she was pregnant, her face fell, her whole body language just screamed defeated and you could tell that she was not prepared to have another baby.
Now, I could have gotten on my high horse and criticized her decision making skills, but the following scene with her riding in the car from the clinic shook me to my core. She started yelling and screaming (can’t remember about what) but it was clear that it was misplaced anger about finding out she was pregnant. And then it hit me. She is the face of depression. She is so many Black women who mask their depression by putting on that Angry Black Woman and/or Strong Black Woman façade…you know the two can be interchangeable right? And sometimes they happen at the same time, when we get to sucking our teeth, rolling our necks, cussing and kicking that man out, talking bout we don’t need him, whilst making our kids a sandwich. Like so many Black women, Neffe had shoved her sadness into a deep, dark place and what we saw was merely a manifestation of that depression.

Luckily Neffe was getting therapy. But so many of us are not. We are carrying that tired, old, heavy mantra that we “can do it all by our damn selves.” Um, we can’t. We shouldn’t have to. We have to shift some of the weight (easier said than done, I know, I know). Alright then, we’ve got to drop some of the load. Admit that some things and everything just can’t get done. Admit that you need help. Cause you know what happens when you don’t. Depression reveals itself in: anger, overeating, low self esteem, substance abuse, sex, anything to numb the pain. Don’t believe me? I’ll kick it Dark & Stormy style and provide you with an article that provides some statistics. It seems true what they say, everyone but a Black woman, is entitled to a nervous breakdown.

When I look back at my childhood, one thing I admire about my mother (a mental health professional-go figure) was that she always took time out for herself. She always made time to get her nails done, her hair done, to hang out with her sisters and be away from work, husband and kids. Sometimes she would close her bedroom door and tell me and my brother that she needed to be alone and not to bother her unless we were bleeding. And we did as we were told and left her alone.

Sometimes when I tell this story, people (women in particular) can’t comprehend that my mother made time for herself. The fact that she took a few hours to herself seems so selfish. But I think that she understood the importance of being with herself, in stillness, peace and silence. I think this kept her sane, grounded and strong. Really strong. Now sometimes she took on more than she could handle, the Church Lady was more than just a nickname as she was Church School Director, Vacation Bible School Director, Board member, Girl Scout leader the list was endless. But when she became ill, she cut back. If she can’t or doesn’t want to do something, she says no. And she holds her ground.

As I get older, I find myself taking on a lot of responsibilities. And sometimes it becomes overwhelming: working, side hustling, volunteering, trying to fulfill my personal dreams and have a social life. And I wonder, who can I turn to if I’m always the one who is called on? When do I get to crack? Sometimes I fear that maybe I say “yes” to too many things, so that I don’t have to time to be sad. And that’s not the way to go either. Balance is necessary. Listening to my body and accepting my emotions are necessary. I am reminded of lyrics from Jill Scott’s song, I Keep : I keep smiling when I come through, and I cry when I need to…So, I am learning to find joy in all aspects of my life. I am learning to stop worrying about what I don’t have yet and just keep moving towards my goals. I’m learning to take care of myself first because it’s the most that I can do. I am beginning to accept that I can’t do it all. And I’m not even going to try. So let me get that Strong Black Woman guest pass.

That’s my time y’all! Happy Rum Punch Friday! Author’s Note: Tomorrow is World Aids Day. Please check Dark & Stormy’s post from Monday. The statistics are real. If you haven’t been tested, please do so. Know your status and be safe out there!


Bellini said...

girl you know "I keep" and "Family Reunion" are my favorite songs from that CD. Anyway,ya know I don't feed into the strong black woman crap -- 'cuz that's what it is crap. I am strong yes, but do I need to remind people I am? NONONONO!!! Among million things I do, I always find me time - -can't function with out it!

cheers -- we might have to drink to that tonite!

bygpowis said...

Dark & Stormy said...
"Every day, these kids went into how "white" she was because she liked reading, did well in school and can't wear certain things. She was miserable."

saw this comment on field negro's site. sad what intelligent black folks have to deal with sometimes. i read a tirade from an asian person on blacks in america. i recognize the person's ignorance and want to school them, but they have facts... the same one's field wrote. instead of fighting this person's ignorance, i'll be trying to defend the worst of my people's behavior. sad. another black writer told me not to worry about ignorant folks. they will believe what they want. i should not respond and focus on the boys who need my help. that's not enough for me. i want to at least learn how to fight the good fight while not excusing some'a our people's ill behavior.

as for the black boys, i was a boy in the gifted classes, school valedictorian, star athlete, all that. the boys gotta know there are more like me out there.

if you know any boys n need, direct them to this site http://youtube.com/profile?user=bygINCpresents to watch me document my journey into black manhood.

all the best, sistah(s).

Rum Punch said...

@ Bellini- Girl you know I know all about having me time! It's a must! I'm enjoying my day off as I type...however I have a co-worker, single mother, planning a wedding, getting her master's, working 9-5, etc...and she tells me that she went a whole day w/out eating and by the time she looked up it was 9pm. She tells me that she can't even take a day off for herself, she's always ripping and running. I told her, "you have to take care of you." Her response: "I know. But I can't. I don't have time." That's what I'm talking about. So many women fall into that mentality-gotta do it all, gotta keep it all together, gotta keep all the balls in the air...and in the end they forget about themselves...Yeah and no more toasting and drinking to posts! That's how I got in trouble last week. LOL!

David said...

Fab writng.

jjbrock said...

Sister that is a strong post. Thanks!

SongDynasty said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SongDynasty said...

wow, i love this blog

Lisa said...

Thank you for writing this. I was shouting "Amen!" and "Right on, sista!" the entire time I was reading. LOL!

I am a divorced mother of an 11 year-old who takes care of my disabled mother (a job by itself), and the Principal of an inner-city high school.

I'm tired. And nobody allows me to be tired. This post gave me the time to reflect about how best to put "me time" on my agenda.

DCMarauder said...

Very well written blog. I think this goes for men AND women who put too much upon themselves, but I definitely won't take anything away from the Black woman. She does support us and keep us going.

GG said...

This post is amazing. I put in Strong Black Woman in the google image search and this came up. This blog is quite a find for me. I'm really digging the writing style and kindred souls talking to me through your blog.

I couldn't find any email addresses for you all, but I plan to link to this post for a post I'm doing on my own blog. Just wanted to let you know.

Thanks for your candor..I'm loving it.