Sick of the Hurt!
You may remember last week’s blog? The one in which I dared to tell the world that black women have feelings too! You know, the post which exposed the fact that we’re not made of stone (shocker!) And the limited narratives society (and indeed our own communities) offer us as a means to articulate our experiences are not about anger or a martyred single-dom, but are about our collective and individual PAIN?
That very same theme has carried into this week for me. I was intrigued by a comment made whilst in discussion with a friend. She recalled a conversation with her partner as she attempted to have a heartfelt discussion with him.
For some time she had noticed that she was not getting the best of him and was feeling ignored and dismayed by this. His attention was perpetually divided and when he seemingly was ‘listening’ it was with an ear towards the next message; skipping between ‘other’ (in her heart and eyes) more important contact’s messages; business calls that needed responding to (even at night) and other ‘stuff’ that meant she was perpetually side-lined, ignored, dismissed and her feelings needs and desires negated.
He’d been unaware of her week’s movements, challenges and triumphs, due to either not hearing her… truly being present and listening or because they hadn’t properly conversed in quite some time. Yet she, was acutely aware of his successes and challenges, had been there to support him in a particularly challenging issue he needed advice on and his response ad been, shall we say, less than grateful.
She felt it reasonable to express her disappointment to him, he is after all her life partner and she was acutely aware that if the situation continued they would be in big trouble in their relationship. She confessed to me it was only after her abandonment was so acute that she summoned up the daring to broach the subject with him. Fearing the often-felt dismissal when the black woman’s ‘feelings’ are brought up and the immense wounding she may swallow yet again, if she couldn’t get through to him.
The expectation would be for her to stifle the aching, yet again, find some emotional balm from deep within and place the salve on the knawing gape of her woman’s desires herself and just ‘get on with it!’
‘Getting on with it’ is what has been the lot of the Black woman since we were kidnapped from the Motherland.
- The dark hued woman was designated the back-breaking field work, bred like donkeys, raped and tortured, saw their children sold of at intervals or die: The first trauma – *Vilomahed (see below)
- Or else the children they produced who were ‘closer to massa’ in looks were brought into the house and discouraged from fraternising with the woman who bore them; the first heart-breaking rejection: The second trauma – Rejection
- If their men loved them, protected them, admired and appreciated them or their family unit was becoming just ‘too tight’ He was sold off: The third trauma – Unprotected
- If their son’s were protective and loving towards their mothers, if they dared defend them they lived in the fear of them being tortured or killed and so she had to teach her darling boy to ‘bow his head’ just a ‘likkle’ so massa wasn’t too offended by his emerging manhood and she felt shame. Shame that in trying to save him she was forced to become complicit in the emasculation of her own men: The fourth trauma – Psychosis inducing Guilt
And all of this, she had to stuff down. Even though it was vomit-inducing and choking she went back into the fields day after day, pregnant and in mortal fear instead of able to embrace the joy of bringing new life,
Into the ‘big house,’ and wet-nursed the massa’s baby, her life-giving, rich, original-mother-of-the-Earth-mineral-rich-mother’s milk suckled by another woman’s children, whilst hers went hungry…
Where did all that pain go?
And so… the narrative of the black woman being able to bear anything and get up and get on with it is ‘hot-metal branded’ into our collective psyches. No other woman in any other cultural grouping be-it a Racial, Social or even Professional context is or has been exposed to such isolation, rejection abandonment and emotional molestation.
Another friend and I have sat up night after night examining the shared experiences in our lives and the uncanny synchronicities within them.
Even we, seemingly intelligent, well-educated, sophisticated, modern Black women have had to recognise, painful as it is, that the trauma has been passed on. Passed on in utero. Passed on as our fragile lives take shape, as we exit the birth canal; the trauma has already been tattooed into our psyches!**
And it is so that we enter the world to then layer the traumas experienced in our own lives on top of the of the ones we’ve been bequeathed at birth.
Traumas and hurts from abuse, abandonment by lovers, husbands, children; for some of us, emotionally flat, unfeeling, sometimes cruel mothers, mothers unhappy at their own life choices and without the emotional maturity to deal with their feelings or ‘babies’ as mothers who like deer in headlights, were nursing their own traumas with no damned idea how to soothe and support themselves let anyone anyone else!
The trauma is perpetuated and so the narrative embeds deeper and deeper within our psyche, our experiences and our society. We can deal with ANYTHING, we have no need of comfort or protection or consideration or care; we are fearless and strong.
We are impenetrable.
In order to survive, that is exactly what many of us have had to become…
impenetrable, stone: pushing it all down, calcifying our pain for fear that if we acknowledge it, shine the light of realisation on it and dare to heal, that we might, instead lacerate and annihilate our very souls!
My brave friend persevered. She KNOWs she deserves like any other woman a chance to experience the love and protection and companionship of a life partner. She longs to be an example to her children and especially her girl children of what they can and should expect from themselves and their partners.
His response was to negate her hurt, it was to outline how fed up he was of hearing of her needs and that if this is what being ‘strong black woman’ meant then he was ‘tired’ of hearing it.
What is the strong black woman?
Her response was that ‘being a strong black woman’ means:
Recovering from another instance of someone:
- Happily sharing your gifts, being uplifted and promising equanimity, yet in reality being incapable of admitting that they do not want to fulfil that promise or equanimity when it comes to you.
- That it’s giving and loving and caring and supporting and getting little or nothing like the same in return…
- It’s having your needs and feelings dismissed and instead being blamed
- It’s somehow after being crushed, abandoned or neglected (after all you’re a strong woman and so can do EVERYTHING alone, so get on with it and shut up!) finding the courage and the hope and the compassion for self and others and swallowing the massive FEAR that you might get it wrong again…
It’s after society and your own men shove you to the bottom of the pile every day…
- It’s after THAT… you dare to try again, to believe things can be different and not become cynical, cruel, ugly, vicious, mean or hurtful.
It’s getting up though you’re bruised and terrified and giving it another go, believing in the spirit of humanity, believing in romance, believing in true partnership and love and believing, despite exhaustion that you too deserve all life has to offer and you’ll give it one last go; just ‘ONE MORE TIME”
She said is what being a strong black woman is!
Blissings and much love
*Vilomah means “against a natural order.” As in, the grey-haired should not bury those with black hair. As in our children should not precede us in death. If they do, we are vilomahed. … A parent whose child has died is a vilomah:https://today.duke.edu/2009/05/holloway_oped.html
**The Telegraph, Sunday 27th October 21019 – The Genetic Scientists are now beginning to confirm that phobias can be inherited: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/10486479/Phobias-may-be-memories-passed-down-in-genes-from-ancestors.html