I have found that many clients are either unaware of the little child that exists within them or feel alone in their belief of the existence of the little kid within them. So, to be very clear: We all have a little child within us. No one is exempt from this rule. We may grow up and become distanced from our little ones but they exist within us daily. Oftentimes, if we are unaware of them, they have probably been in control of us and our lives for some time. Growing up makes us aware of our own judgments, the judgments of others, and we become bogged down by responsibilities that add to our fears and judgments. For many of us, this dims our ability to view and connect with the little child inside.
I first became familiar with the ‘black love’ term when the Obamas became the first family of the US. I didn’t fully understand the need to have a specific term to describe a black couple. The Obamas and the Carters have become the gold standard of black relationships in the US. Maybe that’s because of the preoccupation with social media and the need to find role models that we can identify with. This creates a certain amount of pressure to adhere to a society-approved relationship model as well as completely undermining those relationships that exists outside of the spotlight and have managed to thrive.
In college, I learnt who I could be. I have had sisters all my life, but I had never experienced sisterhood. My first day of classes, I think in my first class too, I met her. Krystal Jackson is the sister I never had. I learnt the differences between sisters and sisterhood.
I learnt that I could step outside of my comfort zone. I began to learn to redefine friendship and relationships. I learnt that friendship is a relationship. A lesson that many people still do not understand. I began to evaluate the friendships in my life. As time went on, I realized I started cutting people out because we no longer had similar interests or values, and frankly because for some, I no longer needed to hold on to them. I think that’s another issue we experience. We have friendships or other relationships that have served us but we can’t let go when it’s time to move on. I learnt that relationships have a role. They are either moving you forward or moving you backward. They do not standstill. I became a woman in my friendship with Krystal. True sisterhood challenges you, protects you, gives you space to grow, mirrors yourself back to you, helps you to build character, and teaches you how to love and support unselfishly. We learn that we can succeed together through honest communication. This is not to say, it’s not difficult, because of course it is extremely uncomfortable and can hurt sometimes, but when you experience the joys that comes after, you rest assured knowing that you are becoming the woman that you want to be.
I’d like to say that I always liked being black, but I’d be lying. I’d like to say that I always liked being dark-skinned but I’d be lying.
I’ve just started writing this piece and my fingers are already unsteady. I’ve always lived in my head; played stories out there, held long deep conversations with myself when I struggled to find someone to connect with, and wrote long beautiful poems there. I’ve been the dark-skinned oddball in the family for so long, I don’t know how to be anything else. It took a very long time – 20 years – to start to embrace my complexion. I’d also always known that I was black, but until living in the US, I really didn’t know that I was black.
Picture courtesy of Planoly.com
Lately, it seems like mental health and mental illness have become synonymous. To clarify, everyone has mental health, everyone does not have a mental illness or disorder. Society possesses many stigmas regarding mental health. These stigmas are perpetuated by fear of the unknown (mental health being the unknown variable), fear of mental disorders and illnesses being contagious, fear of ostracism, and fear of being different. The truth is that we now live in an information age; there is so much information at the touch of a button, that living in ignorance is no longer an excuse. We all know someone who has been touched by a mental health condition; that is, if we, ourselves, have not experienced our own mental health condition at some point.