Sometimes I wonder if I’m going crazy. If I’m over exaggerating things. Am I a failure? Was it rape? Was he right? Were they right? Should I just get over it? Will I ever know what it’s like to be loved fearlessly? Am I where I’m supposed to be? The only thing I know for sure is I’m not sure. Every morning I wake up after my 4 alarms have sounded, look at my ceiling fan spinning like the Earth’s axis and say my affirmation. Some days they’re said systematically, but the best days are when they’re said prophetically. I am strong, powerful, beautiful, worth it, I am enough. After that peace is attempted, I get up, shower, brush my hair in a perfect bun, put my make up on (some days to cover the bruises), dress myself in perfectly starched clothes and I get on with my day. At sunrise, I’m corporate America, by sunset I’m a fighter. MMA and boxing to be exact. Each day presents itself with obstacles, but the consistent struggle is balance and the struggle to be enough. At the gym, I’m the complete contradiction of my day life. I’m barefoot, frizzy hair, clothes hanging off my body with a glow not from a euphoric feeling, but from the work. Each day, whether in or out of the gym, I struggle to know if I’m enough. Did I do that move right? Is it good enough or did he really just let me have it? Did I do that report right? Did I get an “attitude” at work? It’s exhausting. Balancing the perceived level of strength that we, Black women are thought to have with the things we must overcome daily because we have to.
It wasn’t until recently that I’ve come to realize all of this. I thought I was in a relationship where love was the factor for both. For me it was, for him, he wanted control. Control over me, my friends and family, my thoughts and my body. I remember finding out when he cheated. I was readying my things to leave what I thought was our home and he wouldn’t let me. I had moved to Baytown him but my job, family, gym and friends were in Houston. I had only one friend in Baytown and I was alone. After not leaving, we went to bed. I remember laying there wondering was she in our bed? Had she touched not only my man, but my things and his heart. The next day, I was a small fraction of myself. Anxious and the everything and nervous at the thought of him seeing me talk to or touch another man bc to him, that was wrong. He pretended nothing happened the previous day. He joked and tried to make me forget. He was actually part of the man I fell in love with. Previous to that day, he treated me like I was a nuisance. Just someone he looked through and past. Despite my efforts we hadn’t made love in months. I’d do my hair and look pretty for him when he’d come home and he’s just scoff and walk past me like I had wasted my time. But that day, he tried to be that man again. For me, I was exhausted. I just went to bed. Waking up to him on top of me saying he didn’t cheat was scary. I didn’t know what to do. This was what I wanted right? His attention like before right? But no, not like this. I just felt numb so I just laid there and accepted defeat. Many things happened after that to make me leave, but it wasn’t until months later that I realized what happened. I was sitting at work and something triggered that memory that I had chosen to bury and I just completely shut off like a light. A year later after talking with some friends, I still don't know what to call it. All I know is I allowed him to strip me of my dignity and I don't know how to get it back. Unraveling that has torn me apart. I’ve recently fought and I took that time to not think about it but not that I have the time, I think too much about it. Its taking me to shut down to turn on and understand that that wasn’t right and I’m not ok. For someone like me, a badass fighter that can fight with the best of them to surrender to that is baffling. I don’t understand it.
There is no diagnosis for Black Girl Depression. We are magic, we are beautiful, we are hella strong and powerful, we are poppin, but we do hurt. We do feel pain. The fragility seen in other types of women are not excluded from us. When we are passed over for jobs because or perceived stereotypes, we hurt. When you ghost us, for no reason, we wonder and hurt. When you treat us below our value, we hurt. When we say we don’t need you, believe that, but also know, we want you and know the power in want versus need. When you strip our dignity, mentally, emotionally and physically because we’ve fearlessly chosen to love without condition, and you do it to feel more like a man, we do no forget. That damage is done.
I knew I needed help when I started to understand suicide. When I understood what it meant to be so mentally tired that you just wanted it all to stop. All the thoughts circling around your head dancing to the beat of an uncontrollable heart, secrets pulsate like an 808, the vicious circle of those memories are infectious like a Beyoncé hook, and the inability to sleep because the beat of those drums are louder than the silence. You just want it to stop. The memories of the inability to not be able to say no out of fear. Wondering who was that person. Wondering if I let it happen. Why was I stuck? Why did I become numb? Why did the fighter not fight?
It’s amazing how letting someone see you can damage you so much. It’s astonishing how you can lose yourself in loving someone more than loving yourself. It’s breathtaking how people don’t understand their actions are ripples.
I think I have the gift of seeing the light in someone’s darkness. Seeing their gifts through their pain as they starve my soul. A curse. But in all of it, I’m starting to see myself. Starting to see myself. Starting to feel the warmth of my own light.
Photo by: Hosanna Rull