The stigma still exists.
The saying remains among black folks that we do not see therapists.
"Chile only needs a kick in the ass. That should straighten her up!"
"There's nothing wrong with her. Should just quit acting a fool!"
There is a saying that black folks do not have nervous breakdowns, that we are not entitled to have them. Our mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers did not have them, neither should we. Look at our history. They have been though more than you ever will.
I am a 37 year old bisexual black woman, a rape survivor, a single mama of a disabled child and a single pregnant mama-to-be. 3 times married, 3 times divorced and broke as hell. By rights I should have had many breakdowns by this point.
It is that history and my present that had brought me to my therapist. Before I have one.
I am tired. I have been beaten senseless by the unrelenting pressures of mama hood, society, being a black woman; being a woman period. I am tired of being told by the black community how I am supposed to be/look like a black woman. I am NOT supposed to have piercings, stretched lobes, 50% tattoo coverage, have short nappy hair, wear combat boots unless I'm in the military. That is for the white, middle-class trying to be ethnic and anti-social.
I'm supposed to have a big ass and even bigger breasts. I have neither. I'm supposed to "keep the faith" no matter what is thrown at me by life; that god will take care of all of us. Church every Sunday (By the way I'm Buddhist, which I'm not supposed to be either). I'm supposed to take care of everyone and everything; I'm supposed to sacrifice myself in doing so. My mother died at the age of 53 doing this; why should I even consider doing the same? And on top of all this, I am supposed to smile and act as if nothing bothers me. Be strong, stoic. I'm tired of being told by society how I am supposed to be a mama and a woman. As if I needed additional instructions on how to live a "civilized life", by rules that never had my best interests in mind to begin with.
I'm NOT supposed to speak and write in an articulate manner. I'm not supposed to have a college degree. Nor should I criticize the way my son is educated in the public school system. I should and are supposed to reinforce the government agenda and propaganda that they have integrated into the education that my son is federally and state mandated to receive. I should not confront the teachers and administration and challenge them to justify what they are teaching is in the best interests of my son. I should not make sure that he is receiving the accommodations he requires so that he may learn in spite of his disability. I should be happy that he likes school and goes.
I am tired of being told by society as a woman I should be constantly watching my weight, and dressing in the latest misogynist styles in order to attract and be objectified by a man. I am not supposed to be sexually attracted to other women or have a meaningful relationship with them. I'm not supposed even to like and enjoy sex or be called a slut and a whore. I am not supposed to love my body as is. I am not supposed to exercise my right to choose to have a child and if I am single and I do, I am either a selfish murderer or a man-trapper. I am supposed to see other women as "competitors" in a so-called quest to obtain and keep a man.
My life is supposed to revolve around a man, any man, otherwise I am of little use to society. Once I get married I am supposed to abdicate, subjugate and prostrate myself to a man and lose my self-identity and self-esteem. My therapist is a slight Asian man who is a veteran of the Vietnam War; who has dealt with and is still dealing with the atrocities of that war. However, he is the one who has helped me dig deep, dig in, and deal with the reality that is within me in the hope and goal that he will not be seeing me for years or decades in a therapeutic setting. He is one of the few men in my life that has seen past the facade that I have been carrying around with me for the past few years and was actually not surprised that I came into his office sobbing copiously, screaming for help. He does not give me the answers.
I already know what the answers are. It's facing them that are the hard part. They come in the deprogramming of childhood and early adult lessons that I can no longer apply to my life. It is finally facing the rape that I had suffered through alone despite my parents knowing and doing nothing but blame me for it happening and as a result, explains why I went though 3 marriages and many other poor relationship choices before I realized that I never really dealt with it. It is although I have physically reclaimed my body though the art of body modification; my spirit cannot be fully reclaimed unless I really start to feel and be what I should be feeling and be rather than let others dictate what I should feel and be. It is keeping my sanity while I let the changes within me take root. It is for myself I do this.
Yes, this black mama is in therapy. And finally in her right mind.
Black Mamas Get Therapy Too by G. D. Rollins
The stigma still exists.