Addressing the Wounds of Our Past
When I was ten years old, one of my closest friends at the time revealed that she was molested by one of her female neighbors. At the time, I had very little understanding of what this meant. I could not quite grasp the magnitude of the effect that this moment would have on her life and therefore, my reaction was much the same as some of her peers. My only response was a lackluster, “Wow, are you okay?” followed by silence. She shrugged it off and we continued about our day as if the conversation never existed; as if my response was a bit of salve placed on the wound of a boo-boo and now everything was okay.
For the remainder of our friendship, I saw her jump from one relationship to the next, one older man to another even older man, never finding the balance necessary to be the child that she was meant to be. Some years later, I mustered the courage to ask whether her family knew what happened to her and unsurprisingly enough, they did. Their response was to simply remove her from the situation and never speak of it in any real capacity again. And although she managed to come out on the other side as a happily married woman, I wondered what would have been the outcome had she sought the counseling necessary for her to transition into womanhood without the chains of that memory marring her succeeding relationships.
In the Black community, I’ve found that we have a tendency to not address the wounds of our past in a more sufficient way outside of church and prayer. Often, our emotional scars are dismissed, and reduced to the task “praying about it” or “leaving it at the altar,” with no other professional advisement given as follow up. This is especially true in cases of dealing with that which is most taboo: sexual indiscretions.
When a young lady develops curves and breast a little too early and garners the attention of that one uncle we are all warned to stay away from, she is shamed for her developments, shoved into a doily top and made to join the choir. That one cousin who we’ve all suspected to be gay since he preferred his mother’s heels over his dad’s necktie is made to never speak of his desires and instead, throws himself at the altar in hopes of extinguishing his tendencies. None of these acts offer real solution. None of these options afford any real solace. It is no wonder that the R. Kellys of the world are given passes to never account for their actions. R. Kelly is no different than that one uncle we were warned about. He is simply absolved with the release of a hot gospel song.
There are many conversations that circulate on social media addressing the broken relationships that seemingly exist among us. Rarely, have I seen it where counseling is mentioned as a solution. I remember the day that I suggested counseling to my loved one as a way to resolve past issues of an abusive relationship. She asked if I had gone to therapy and laughed when she found out that I had. It was as if she thought it was ridiculous that forty years of an abusive relationship would have little, if any, effect on her current state. And yet, as she strives to build within her new, budding relationship, I lay witness to the inevitable fear and coldness that pervades their relationship, simply because she knows no other way to be.
I am not going so far as to say that counseling is the end all and be all to our problems, nor am I not saying that relying on one’s faith to help guide us through the most difficult of times is a failed effort. What I am saying is that we have a responsibility to one another and to our families to strive to be our best selves, an act relatively impossible without acknowledging the need for mental fortitude. Get help, seek advice, and recognize the hurt that burdens all of us. We’ve all been through some s***. Only some choose to stay there.