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.
I’m recovering from an awesome time at “The Crowning” Create Your Own Self-Care Toolkit event! The Conscious Queens and I had a wonderful time meditating, getting massages, creating our crowns and more!
As my first workshop ever, it was challenging to say the least. I experienced so many setbacks that emotionally, for a second (ok, maybe a few hours), I was “Set-back.” Fear had overcome me because as my guests arrived, I did not want them to think “There goes another Black business for you!”
This brings me back to several months ago when I got into an argument with a friend for calling his practice “a black owned business.” He was so angry that we literally stopped talking. At the time, I could not understand it. I mean after all, he was Black and he owned a business. It wasn’t until I went through the processes of launching The Conscious Queen did I realize that there is a stigma that comes along with being identified as a Black business owner that I did not want associated with my brand.
Black business owners are painted with statements such as “poor customer service,” lack of follow through, fraudulent and more. In reality, Black business owners are challenged with limited resources, lack of support and a plethora of mental health challenges.
A recent study conducted by Michael A. Freeman, M.D., Sheri L. Johnson, Ph.D., Paige J. Staudenmaier, and Mackenzie R. Zisser (2015) found that in a sample of 242 entrepreneurs, approximately 72% of them expressed experiencing mental health concerns. When paired with the fact that only 25% of Blacks actually seek mental health treatment, continued neglect for one’s mental health can contribute to limited motivation, lack of productivity, memory challenges and more. All of which can have a detrimental effect on a business.
The mental health of our entrepreneurs is often times neglected until it is too late. With the lost of pioneers such as Don Cornelius, creator of Soul Train, Titi Branch of Ms. Jessie’s and most recently Lowell Hawthorne, CEO and founder of Golden Krust due to suicide, it is important that we note the stress associated with success is significant and real. As I spoke to several business owners, they all shared of experiencing anxiousness, in which one stated “Then I don’t have no one to talk to about it because none of my friends are business owners.”
In addition, there is pressure to be twice as better to get the respect you deserve. Another friend stated “Although the White company can employ 10 employees to ensure their workshop goes off without a hitch, you (a Black business owner), despite having no employees, have to make sure you start on time, your speakers are engaging, your guests have all of their supplies and then some. No one cares about the circumstances outside of your control that may cause you not to have everything in order.” Another close friend of mine shared about launching her business, “I’m scared. My product has to be priced for what they think it’s worth versus what it’s really worth. My customer service has to be over the top in order for customers to return.”
Such comes from the cognitive distortions many Blacks experience that Whiteness is equivalent to rightness or excellence. It reminds me of an episode of Sanford and Son when Fred had a dentist appointment and he rather receive services from the White dentist versus the Black dentist, despite him being less qualified. In reflecting on my own experiences, I recount numerous occasions in which I have been disappointed in White businesses due to their lack of follow through or poor customer service. Maybe even more than I have with Black businesses. As I share my experiences, I don’t recall a discussion regarding such leading to the questioning of their integrity to saying or hearing “Well, you know how White businesses are.” We tend to be a bit more understanding, accepting of their enhanced financial capabilities and their solutions to our concerns.
That does not mean that we let our Black business owners off the hook for the negative commonalities they share. I can tell you, it has been disheartening to reach out to Black owned businesses and receive no phone call or email back. It’s frustrating to request a service, it not be delivered and receive a “I mean, there’s nothing I can do for you.” It’s been infuriating to not get a sorry when one was warranted. A lot is the result of stress, anxiety and depression that is not being addressed.
Sometimes success comes at a price and while business maybe booming for one, the lack of sleep is having a significant impact on one’s mood and ability to interact with others respectfully. One business’s downfall could be the result of the owner feeling overwhelmed, generating a lack of response to emails. And to be honest, exhaustion can be a downfall, especially for the business owners who have to hold down a 9-5 while also starting their business (Hey, I’ve been so exhausted, this post should have been out 5 days ago!).
So how do we resolve such?
We start becoming real about what mental health challenges we are experiencing. We become more focused on our self-care as it plays an important role in the success of our businesses. I’m thankful for platforms like Dr. Janae Taylor’s Minding My Black Business or Erica D. Clark’s B.O.B (Black Owned Businesses), which fosters the importance of such. As patrons, loved ones and admirers of Black owned businesses, we show our support, we applaud them for their successes. We hit that like button, we repost their sales, posts, etc. We go to their events, we offer CONSTRUCTIVE feedback.
With a rise in Black businesses of more than 34% according to the 2012 Survey of Business Owners, there is no reason that our community cannot experience economic empowerment. So now the question lies within you. What are you going to do to help in this fight for economic and mental freedom?
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.