Exposure. This entire blog means so much exposure for me and that, is the single most difficult thing about doing it. I don’t mean positive exposure or gaining some sort of notoriety for my writing (which would be effing awesome!) I mean that I am spilling the essence of my entire self out onto these pages. A secondary reason that I feel I must do this is because I am too skilled at manipulating and controlling others impressions and reactions to me and I’ve grown tired of that song and dance. The primary reason for this blog is to stop being a chicken and speak out to an audience that I know may not want to listen.
There are broken hearted single black mothers everywhere…I am fully aware that my story isn’t new or even all that interesting. But I do wonder how many of us have witnessed our mothers and our mother’s mothers suffer hardships taken in stride and have been influenced to do the same within our own lives. I finally reached a point where I had to realize that I am not my mother. Her resilience is something I certainly admire, but I cannot project her strengths onto myself. Maybe it’s finally time for someone to say, “This life is hard.” For me, there are times when I do need to be strong and do things as independently as I can out of necessity, but there also came a time for me to acknowledge when I needed a little help.
I was tightly wound. I had just lost my job and before I could grasp what had happened or why, I scored a full-time temporary job that wanted me to start the very next week. My career had fallen apart bringing into question my mental deterioration, I felt my love interest slipping away, I had lost my bond with my family after my divorce, I was drinking too much, I was phoning in motherhood. I was hustling and switching into so many different modes that I was losing traction fast. Finally one morning I woke up and realized that I had already fallen. I remember that day as if it were yesterday. I couldn’t stop crying and I didn’t know how to call in “sick” to a job that wasn’t even permanently mine. My significant other at the time had to physically carry me to the shower and wash me, and all I really remember is that I was scared to death and I was so disappointed in myself.
I no longer had the energy to try at life, and worse, I didn’t have the energy to fake the effort anymore. I have my children, I construct my thoughts carefully away from suicide but I still fight the desire to not want to live anymore. I used to watch the metro train approach my stop everyday and every single day I used to wish I had the courage to jump in front of it. Suicide is selfish. Eventually, I learned to curb my thoughts to the point where I only wanted to run away. I would get behind the wheel of my car and fight the desire to drive until I ran out of gas. I didn’t have a plan beyond that; I simply wanted to disappear. Life doesn’t allow you the opportunity to slow down to process and to recover. Things pile up and overwhelm– it is easy for me to lose control. That day, the anxiety built and overflowed. The levees had broken—my city was in ruins and I was drowning. How could this have happened to me? Black women don’t cry.
Black women are supposed to be strong. We always take care of our kids, we always hustle, we always look good and you NEVER see us weak. We’re disrespected by society, abandoned by our men, hated on by other women but we never allow others to see the struggle of what we go through. Depression is not a word that exists to the black community, and it BETTER not exist to black women. If you feel sad or bad you just keep it moving. You swallow your hurt, you never slow down and never back down; let them see you angry but never let them see you crumble. I sat in that bathtub feeling the shower water rush over me and I knew that I was powder. I knew that my method of life was no longer working for me. I could no longer stuff down pain and zone out of life in order to cope with simply being alive. To my children I was a zombie. I no longer danced and I barely even spoke to them. Yes, I made their meals everyday but there was no love in it. Whenever I did get up from the couch they would follow me around, their eyes wide. They were waiting for some sign of life. I wasn’t showing them strength and resilience. I was showing my children that I had come undone.
The hardest part is not the fall, it’s the effort it takes to get up again. I struggle in some way every day and I try to be upfront about it as much as possible but I feel the shame. I look in the mirror every morning and challenge myself to rise above it. This is my story, I can’t change it and I shouldn’t want to. I suppose the ideal way to have done this would have been to start this blog once I had overcome all of these things. However, in being completely honest with myself I know that this is probably something I will struggle with for the rest of my life. I know I won’t suddenly get better overnight. I don’t want to take medication to numb things or try to make things go away—and that’s my personal choice. I choose to try within the strength of my higher power and the drive I have within me, to overcome this dark cloud that hangs over my life. In this decision I know there will plenty of tears and maybe a few more breakdowns along the way. In the end, I want my children to be able to look me in my eyes and know that I am struggling but I am constantly fighting to make it through. Maybe black women don’t cry, but I want my children to know that this one does…and that’s ok.