Her fair skin glistened in the sunlight, radiating the most flawless skin one ever did see. She was the most beautiful woman I ever did lay my eyes on. She is perfection and is my mommy. For a 5 year old, your mother is the first model that you have the pleasure of experiencing and “Rose” was indeed that. Like her namesake, she is durable and can withstand any test or trial that life may bring her. Long-lasting in her loyalty to God, her family and those in which she loved. And of course, her fragrant sweet smell commands the attention of others when she glides into a room. But it is her sweet heart that lingers, leaving a lasting impression on everyone that she meets.
“What a beautiful woman,” people would say. My eyes would light up as a child when people would remind me how much I looked like her. She was everything that I wanted to become. Like all mothers, she made sure to shield me from ever seeing her or anyone in my immediate family in a negative light. I was the baby and she made sure to protect my innocence by any means necessary, blocking me from seeing the imperfections, the arguments, the family secrets or the fall outs. I coasted through my childhood surrounded by peace, love and a pretty darn harmonious environment. With a family culture, that promoted non-confrontation we tend to add buffer to issues and pray that everything smooths over. If a disagreement did perhaps arise, I was swept off to a quiet place before anything escalated.
When I turned eighteen I reached a significant point in my life that relocated me to a college far away where I was independent and out of the ark of covering by my immediate family. My little bubble immediately popped and I was now faced with learning how to handle adversity, discern the true intentions of those around me and maintain focus with the new found influx of distractions. Let’s just say I fell…HARD…plenty of times, but eventually I found my way.
By finding my way, I also identified some things about myself that guided the way I handled situations, made decisions and operated within the world. I pondered over certain shortfalls that I continued to experience, but it wasn’t until my first trip home as a college student that revealed the answers I longed to find.
Talk about snatching the veil off of ya gal! Edges literally snatched back after my first day back home. Everyone seemed…different. All of a sudden things were revealed to me that I was never aware of- true identity of family members, faulty marriages, family conflict, you name it. While struggling to digest everything, I received the most nonchalant response from other relatives simply stating “I thought you knew.” By the “um-teenth” response similar to that one, I exploded screaming, “NOOOOOO I didn’t know OKAYYYY! I.did.not.know!”
As I stormed out the house, I did what I always knew and learned to do. I kicked it under the rug, wiped my face and let things BE. It doesn’t have anything to do directly with me. Right? Right. So no need to stress over things. Months turned into years, and years turned into a decade since removing the “Rose” colored glasses.
I am wrapping up my first meeting with a therapist and even in the midst of balling for the entire 60 minutes I learned a lot about myself. Coincidentally, my therapist and I discussed a lot about the dynamics within my family and how that has played a major factor in why I am the way that I am. I wasn’t surprised at all to say the least. I mean deep down, I knew it would take spending $100 and a complete stranger reading me to filth, for me to stop being so prideful and own up to my areas that needed improvement.
Our conversation also encouraged me to go back home and have an adult conversation for the first time with my mother. As I sat on her bed, I cut straight to the point and blurted out, “Mom I am seeing a therapist now.” You would have thought I said I just saw a reincarnated version of Michael Jackson walking down the street. With a vexed look, she replied, “why do you think you need to see a therapist?” I begin to regurgitate the entire conversation with my therapist and how I struggle with addressing conflict, exhibit a lack of trust that allows others to be there for me and still struggle with discerning those who have good intentions by me. Many issues I highlighted was directly linked back to my family dynamics.
She looked puzzled and replied, “Well I guess those are characteristics that our family exhibits, but do you really think it’s to the extreme that a therapist is needed?” As I do understand and show sincere empathy towards parents when a child openly tells them that the way they raised their kids may or may not have been the absolute best. It’s a lot to digest. But what shocked me was the confirmation that therapy is clearly still a very touchy, taboo subject within the African American community. We would rather just pray about it or kick it under the rug only seeing what we want to see through our “Rose” colored glasses instead of facing the issue head on.
As I walked out the room, still confident about my decision to seek help, I knew that I couldn’t take it personally if others didn’t understand. This is not their journey, it is mine and I made (and will continue to make) the decision to do this for myself, not for the validation of anyone else. Not everyone is ready and open to dive into places and spaces they sought to forget and maybe after accepting things for so long, it’s simply easier to leave the past in the past.
I get it. But this young whipper-snapper has plenty more life to live and I want to make sure I am living it to the fullest with an open mind and open heart!
**Flings the red frames to the side and throws on a fresh pair of Gazelle sunglasses.