I consider myself strong. I am Black. I am a woman. But I don't want to the Strong Black Woman anymore. I just want to be Gamma with my struggles, my shortcomings, my sarcasm, my love of all things TV, my joy of reading crime novels, my curiosity, my moodiness, my love of potato chips, my hips, my skin, my hair. I just want to be.
I know I'm Black. As my Granny used to say, I don't have to do anything but stay Black and die. I'm never going to be anything different. Lawd knows this society won't let me forget it. I know I'm strong simply by virtue of being here. But do I have to constantly define myself as a Strong Black Woman?
Trying to live up to the Strong Black Woman role, has almost killed me. I've had more than my fair share of drama over the past years, especially over the last four. One particular incident almost put me in the psych ward. I was trying so hard to be strong that I wouldn't allow myself to admit I needed help much less reach out for it. I wrote the whole sordid mess out in a 4-part post and took it down. It wasn't until I realized I had not read a book for a solid year, that I realized I was in emotional trouble. Books have always, always been my best friends and the fact that I couldn't concentrate long enough to read one finally got through to me. It wasn't the fact that I had isolated myself from all but the most necessary human contact. It wasn't the fact that I was drinking more alcohol than I ever had in my life even though I knew moderate drinking (if any) was the protocol after my heart surgery over 10 years ago. Not eating regularly didn't signal an issue as I have always been a meh kind of eater. And I put the insomnia I had suddenly developed down to I'm getting older. I was only truly happy with my granddaughter and my dog. And it *still* didn't click that I might need some help to process what had been a devastating blow to my emotional, spiritual, and physical well-being. Yeah, it involved a man.
On the heels of that drama, I lost my extremely (in comparison) well-paying job of 17 years so I had financial issues I hadn't had to worry about in a long, long, long time. Then my daughter had a serious freak accident and I was afraid she had lost the use of her legs. We won't mention the fact that she had let her car insurance lapse the day BEFORE the accident so Strong Black Woman that I am, I shelled out over $6,000 for her to repair her car. After all, she had to work and get Peanut to daycare and she wasn't taking my car. The drama continued with a series of other "you've got to be kidding me moments" that literally had me crying out to God what did I do to you and I'm sorry!
Throughout all of that, I was trying to live up the Strong Black Woman myth. After all, we were the women that could feed a family of eight on $10 if necessary -- for a week. We could work three jobs, raise perfectly behaved children, go back to school, have a spotless house, keep self looking good at all times. Did I mention we did all that with a smile, hugs and support for the "less strong" and be the leader of the Usher Board at church, too? My ancestors came from slavery dammit. What right did I have to let a little thing like "life" wear me down?
I don't know where Strong Black Woman came from anyway. I never hear the women in the other racial groups describe themselves as Strong White Woman, Strong Asian Woman or Strong Latina Woman. All I know is the day I fell apart in my doctor's office in response to her "how's it going" greeting was when I started to realize I didn't want to strive to be Strong Black Woman anymore. I just wanted to be the best me I could be. I wanted to cry when I was hurt, hell I just wanted to be able to say I'm hurt. I wanted to laugh when I was happy. I wanted to ask for and accept help without feeling I was a failure to my gender and my race. I wanted my daughter to be a normal young lady and if she made mistakes along the way I didn't want to feel as if I had failed the sorority of Strong Black Women. I wanted to admit I was tired and rest when I wanted to.
So Strong Black Woman with your superhuman feats of accomplishment and ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound, I salute you. As for me, I'm going to shoot for The Best I Can Be.