It’s been awhile. I have missed you and I surely hope that you have missed me. Life can get the best of us and it surely has gotten the best of me. Before I am a therapist, I am human. I lose motivation. I go through things. I grow weary. All which has occurred over the last 3 months.
So back in May, in the Self-Care Calendar, there was an activity in which we were to write a letter of forgiveness to ourselves. As I encourage you all to engage in self-care activities, I do my best to participate in them as well. While in that space, I sought counseling, I explored Reiki and yoga and I began working out again. I also took my own advice, such as writing a letter of forgiveness. Writing this letter allowed me to recognize the beauty in being vulnerable with myself and it is my hope that in sharing it, it will relate to you and help you to recognize that you are an amazing being whose flaws allow you to heal, grow and connect with others in this world.
I have found myself in this dark space, yet it does not mean that I have to remain stuck. For me to return to a place of peace and solitude, I must forgive. Forgive myself for overexertion in pursuant to my dreams, career, relationships. For I have placed success in every aspect of my life before me. I have not cared for myself in efforts to meet goals. Some I cannot accomplish on my own, although I try.
Such has manifested into anger because I feel alone. And to some extent I must admit that I created that. I have not allowed myself to be loved, in fear of rejection. In fear that allowing others in will result in an increase of giving what I have already exhausted.
But how can you receive the love and support you desire if you don’t try to let anyone in?
So I forgive myself for living in fear. For such fear to spark a feeling of inadequacy. That in feeling inadequate, I became vulnerable to activities, people and things that did not foster my growth. That I became quiet about the issues that matter most. That I sat in chaos without making any effort to change because I was exhausted. For seeing all the warning signs and choosing to ignore them.
I forgive myself for trying to be so “strong” that in fact I demonstrated weakness. For succumbing to all things I said I never would and allowing it to define who I am.
But today, TODAY is a new day! For letting go of this anger towards myself grants me the opportunity to start anew. To feel refreshed. To relieve myself of the guilt I feel. To live life on my own terms.
**I’d love to read you letters of forgiveness to yourselves. Please send them to me! As always, together we are healing <3 **
Today is February 14, Valentine’s Day and for many, yesterday was deemed as the end of “cuffing season,” just before any purchases were made for the holiday. Cuffing season defined by many is a period of time during the cold weather seasons in which people commit to serious relationships with the intent to break up as the weather warms up in efforts to maintain their ‘sense of freedom.’
While normalized and accepted within the Black culture, it comes with its price. Cuffing season comes at the expense of someone’s emotions, and typically it has been made that those are of a women. Of the women who may spend today crying their hearts out asking themselves “What was wrong with me?” as they thought that they met “the one,” they are now filled with feelings of confusion, hurt and frustration.
Within the Black community, it has become the expectation that women internalize such break ups. That they figure out what they did wrong to lead a man to treat her the way that they did. We tell them to read Steve Harvey’s Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man (2009). We tell them to listen to pastor’s like John Gray who preach sermons about how women should act to find a mate. We have conversations about how women are “dating wrong.”
While introspection is important, and helps us learn from previous mistakes, its important that such occurs for both sexes. Interestingly enough, we have shifted the blame towards women when it comes to relationships. Rarely is the conversation held that men need to be more honest and forthcoming. I honestly have never heard a sermon that focuses on men preparing to become husbands (and that doesn’t mean that its not out there). Thus, we have created “the fuck boy.”
So what is a “fuck boy?” He can be deemed as a smooth talking, nice-looking brother that sweeps you off of your feet. He’s known to whisper sweet nothings in your ear, lavish you with the finer things in life and then just disappear at the drop of a dime because he was not “ready,” for such commitment. Often times, society praises him for his acts. Often times he’s not met with consequences and the women in his life just accept that he is what he is.
In reality, he is challenged with expressing himself. He has been conditioned to think that his confidence is built on his ability to inflict harm to others. The f$@! boy does not know how to respect himself and therefore, he does not know how to respect women.
Psychologically, there are a lot of components that go into obtaining the title of f$@! boy. Often times, they lack empathy, the ability to comprehend another person’s feelings. Research conducted by Baskin-Sommers, Krusemark and Ronningstam (2014) suggests that those who meet criteria for the diagnosis do not simply have challenges with being empathetic, they have challenges with low self-esteem, sense of internal control, self-enhancement, and self-centeredness which ultimately impact one’s ability to be empathetic towards others.
When speaking about Black people in general, Hughes and Demo (1989) reported that despite social and racial tension, Blacks overall have equal or higher self-esteem (one’s ability to recognize his/her worth, abilities and strengths) than Whites. In conjunction, Blacks experience lower personal efficacy (one’s belief in his/her ability to complete tasks or handle certain situations). Based upon that research alone, it can be suggested that Black men may be aware that they are worthy of love, yet lack confidence in their ability to display love. It can also reflect back on societal and racial barriers which have limited many Black men financially and therefore, their confidence levels regarding their ability to contribute to a household may limit their willingness to be serious in relationships, so they exude their charm and wittiness because that, they are fully aware of.
Research on Black men and their mental health is limited. A literature review concluded that conflict between sexes or martial status, psychosocial coping and racism/discrimination all played contributing factors in a Black man experiencing depression (Watkins, D., Green, B., Rivers, & B., Rowell, K. , 2006). As research is vague, it can also be concluded that depression in Black men is not diagnosed on the account that Black men’s presentation of depressive symptoms vary greatly from how the diagnosis is defined in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, used to determine mental health diagnoses). therefore we can only assume what their behavior may be reflective of internal challenges that they have trouble sharing.
So while you ladies celebrate Galentine’s Day, indulge in sweet treats and blast Trina’s Fuck Boy to fill the void tonight, remember that you and your actions are not the only solution to this cultural issue we are facing. Someway, somehow we have to create a nuturing community in which our men are willing to recognize their mental health concerns, seek healing and then we can foster more healthy, loving Black relationships.
Hello Royalty! Happy New Year! As many of you experienced yourselves, closing out 2017 took some patience, reevaluation and determination. Thankfully we all made it!
If you have subscribed to my monthly e-mails (and if you haven’t, let’s get you started now), you know that it’s #nogoalsjanuary! I like to take January to rest, truly give myself the time to just be, get back into the groove of things and set a concrete plan that I can accomplish in the new year. In doing such, I’ve been watching lots of television, catching up on my favorite shows and preparing for the winter premieres. While I watch many of these shows, I’m excited to see writers and creators incorporate mental health and at the same time I grit my teeth thinking “WHAT IS HE (or she) DOING?!?! So for you guys, I’ve created a list of 5 times I’ve had to clutch my pearls and say “I hope no one believes this is real!”
5. How to Get Away With Murder
So if you didn’t already know, How to Get Away With Murder teaches all us all the DON’TS of therapy. Between letting Bonnie know about his therapeutic relationship with Annalise, not referring her to another therapist after he recognized how his similar loss of a child impacted his ability to provide her with the care she needs and did we mention that his ex-wife sifted through records, found Annalise’s information and reached out to warm her? Dr. Isaac Roa probably needs his license revoked!
4. 13 Reasons Why
I think that all of us who watched that final episode cringed during the last meeting between Hannah and Mr. Porter. Mr. Porter missed the signs on the wall. As Hannah cried out for help, he was reluctant to take her concerns seriously and let her leave without following up with Hannah or her parents regarding her safety. Hopefully in Season 2, we’ll get to see how Mr. Porter attempts to justify his negligence.
3. Love and Hip Hop Atlanta
Let me take you all back a minute to 2012 when Stevie J thought it would be a good idea to have Joseline join in on his couples therapy session with Mimi. After he caught the beat down, I hope he recognized otherwise, however, when therapists are aware of triggers that could cause conflict, it is their responsibility to prevent crisis from occurring.
2. She’s Gotta Have It
While many have something to say about Ms. Nola Darling, I’m hear to read Dr. Jameison. She broke too many boundaries. First off, whenever someone comes in for therapy, payment expectations are to be discussed during the first session. Dependent upon on Dr. Jameison’s credentialing board and code of ethics, bartering may or may not be allowed, yet with her slip about being broke proved that she was not comfortable with the situation. And can we also talk about her showing up to Nola’s art exhibit? While often times clients like to have their therapist’s support in such situations, it’s important for the therapist to set healthy boundaries with clients and remind them of their role.
Blackish has to be one of my favorite shows! My favorite episode was when Bow shared of her challenges with Postpartum Depression and Black women finally saw someone who looked like them who they could relate to in regard to child rearing and its challenges. When Dre and Bow went to see a therapist, the therapist was little slick at the mouth. While funny, it definitely violated their right to seek treatment without feeling demeaned or disrespected.
So while it’s important to recognize that this is television and many of these situations are for entertainment, when it comes to your mental health, ensure that you are aware of your rights as a client, share your expectations with your therapist and when challenges arise, let your therapist know!
It’s holiday season and while some of us are accepting of these holidays and others are not (a discussion we’ll save for another time), one thing I notice is that regardless of our spiritual differences and varied levels of consciousness, we all find a way to congregate. It’s one of the great things I love about Black culture. Despite what we are given, we find a way to relate to one another and celebrate what truly makes us unique. One of my favorite examples of such is#thanksgivingwithblackfamilies.
These posts bring about mixed emotions for me. While they are funny, they point out the challenges we as Black people are faced with that we often times ignore. As a good friend once told me, Black people are really good at coping and neglect the opportunity to heal.
Our Black families are built on values which respect and cherish solidarity and collectivism while simultaneously we keep secrets and host hostility within ourselves versus resolving familial conflict. Within the past month, I have found this to be the focus of many sessions with my clients. I’ve heard people mention their intentions to go to family functions although they recognize that their participation in such leads to increased feelings of sadness, anxiousness, anger and confusion. I’ve had to then ask “What if you and your [insert mother, father, brother, etc.] both need to heal and have to do it separately?”
I’m then met with “What? I can’t
do that! That’s my auntie. That’s my mama. I HAVE to take care of her.” In which the question has to be asked “Well who is taking care of you?”
This folks, is how generational curses began and will continue to occur. One of my favorite professors from FAMU, Dr. Dennard so eloquently stated:
Whatever madness your ancestors had & whatever problems they did not solve, will be your madness and your problems. Whatever you do not resolve, will be inherited by your children. This is the law and the crux of our situation. Transformation is purpose, everything else is wasted time.
So let’s reflect on the trauma, exploitation and forced assimilation that our enslaved ancestors have experienced. Couple that with the anger, sadness and emotional exhaustion our great-grandparents experienced, alongside the fear and silenced feeling our grandparents experienced… And we’ve somehow come to believe that we have healed?
We laugh when Grandma is walking around the house making remarks about everyone with no regard to their feelings when in reality, there is a 1 in 5 chance she was the victim of domestic violence and did not get help. We egg Uncle Sam on when he’s in a drunken stupor to dance, ignoring that fact that as a result of his childhood, he drinks to the point of intoxication in efforts to erase his recollections of the abuse he witnessed his mother experience. We call Aunt Wanda crazy when she is cursing Grandma and Uncle Sam out because they ate the last of the sweet potato pie when in reality, due to the chaos within her childhood, she knows of no other way to express herself and feel heard.
THE CYCLE DOES NOT END. It continues. So how do we resolve it?
We decide to no longer keep familial secrets. We decide to allow ourselves to feel. We make tough decisions on who we allow into our space, despite relation. And most importantly, we decide to heal.
Before we begin, let me first tell you all thank you so much for helping a girl like me make a dream come true! The amount of love and support you all have provided to me has been beyond my dreams and expectations and for that, I cannot be grateful enough. Please be sure to subscribe, share, comment and shop!
Now let’s get to business.
So all along, I’ve had this idea that my first blog post would discuss the concept of consciousness. I actually got a little anxious sitting down to write it and possibly it was for a good reason. It wasn’t until last night while wearing my cute Jack-o-Lantern dress that I had to ask… “Am I really as conscious as I think I am?”
What is consciousness might you ask? Within Black Psychology (the study of Black people’s behavior and mind), it can be defined as a pursuit of self-knowledge; sense of love and appreciation for one’s African identify. (Kambon, 2003). Many Black psychologists have theorized that we loss our sense of consciousness through historical amnesia as we were taken from our land against our will and forced to assimilate into a culture unlike our own(Should you need a history lesson, I’ll be sure to create a book list soon). Psychologist Amos N. Wilson even went on to state “To manipulate history is to manipulate consciousness; to manipulate consciousness is to manipulate possibilities; and to manipulate possibilities is to manipulate power (1993, p.2).”
Such information alone helps us to understand why we are where we are now. How many of us can say prior to 23 and me, Ancestry and other DNA tests alike that we knew exactly what part of Africa we are from? That we were fluent in our native language and adhered to all of the customs of our native country?
As many of us sit here looking from side to side for someone to raise their hand, we have to admit that it is sad. I will never forget attempting to have this conversation with a woman whose reply was “Well go learn your native language, honey!” She must have not known that those are fighting words, but thankfully I was able to woosah a few times and calm myself down.
Within recent years we have seen an increase in the plight of consciousness, which warms my heart. I love to see the natural hair, waist beads, Ankara print clothing and all that. I love to hear people referring to each other as Kings and Queens. I love to see how proud people are of their skin tone. Even so, the question still remains, “Am I conscious?”
To me, it seems as if our sense of consciousness has now become a source of competition. Whether it’s Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, everywhere I turn around, I see people arguing about how someone needs to #staywoke or how someone is a conspiracy theorist. Meanwhile, I’m just sitting around thinking apparently I’m sleep.
What it all boils down to is that our sense of consciousness is based upon our life experiences. While the hope is that everyone has access to information that was once hidden, the fact of the matter is that we all interpret the information the way we want to. Everyone will not be able to excel to a higher level of consciousness until they are prepared to learn more about their history and how it guides the way they live currently.
In speaking for myself, I can say that my sense of consciousness is based upon the fact that I have assimilated in some ways to mainstream culture. While I’m conscious of the need to find the beauty in my natural hair, I’m also conscious of the fact that its more convenient at times for me to be get it straightened. While I’m conscious of the negative impact some rap music has on society in general, I’m also conscious of the fact that I love Gucci Mane and if Goldlink’s remix of Crew comes on, more than likely I’m going to cut up.
Simply speaking, in being the Conscious Queens and Kings we are, we also have to be accepting of our shortcomings. It is only then that we can truly be conscious, be true and creatively ourselves.
Wilson, A. (1993). The Falsification of Afrikan Consciousness: Eurocentric History, Psychiatry and the Politics of White Supremacy. New York City, NY: Afrikan World Infosystems, p.4.