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Content Note: Mentions of abuse and rape

Dear Self,

“I never needed to worry about you.”
“I don’t know how you’re still even standing.”
“You are handling all of this like a pro!”

Whenever anyone in your life uttered these words, you used to feel a great swell of pride.

You valued your strength and autonomy over everything else, and hearing those words once proved that everyone had confidence in your ability to take care of yourself. I mean, isn’t “self-care” one of the tenets we preach in feminism? Making sure your house is in order. Making sure your needs are met. Making sure your battles have been won. With Black Exceptionalism as your back-up King James, self-care always seemed an instinctual conjunction with climbing mountains, leaping over hurdles and forwarding any streams. Self-care, in your twisted mind, included overcoming adversity. So, you overcame.

You overcame and you overcame until one day you couldn’t. And here’s the rub with always overcoming: you never learn how to ask for help.

Let me clarify that last statement:

(1) You never believed that you would receive the help you might one day seek. Honestly, how could you expect it when you have always been handling everything so well in your life? Help was for those who have the privilege of being weak, fragile and needy. Help was for those who always had someone working their corner. Help was for those who didn’t have to fight friends as well as enemies for the right to live in the fullness of your worth.

(2) You never believed that you were supposed to need help in the first place. I know you try to steer clear of generalizations, but this is a damn-near universally accepted tenant among black women. Check that. Talk to any W+OC [who does not have passing privilege] in the United States. We are not supposed to need help. Period. End of story. The curtain call has closed and there is no motherfucking encore.

So you get to the point where you don’t want to be the one who loves you the most all of the damn time. You want someone else in your corner to sponge you down, seal up your wounds, and massage your tensing muscles before you must go back into the ring.

You want someone who isn’t going to succumb to systemic misogynoir and insist that you “be nice”, “be civil”, “calm down” or “stay quiet”.

You want someone who is going to consider your criticisms and concerns instead of using intimate knowledge to fuel their personal attacks and gaslighting tactics.

And, more than anything, you are going to want that someone in your corner to remind you that you are worth what you ask for who isn’t always you.

But you are a black female-presenting person. So you are expected to settle for less than shit in every fucking arena of your existence. You are kneed in the kidneys in response for every single demand for the fullness of your worth from every single angle, including, unfortunately, by your own from time to time.

You are told that you are weak and sad and worthless for deigning to ask for not only for assistance, but for someone to love you. To uphold you. To cheer you on. To challenge your standards. To dry your tears. To give you guidance, pep talks and confidence. You are told to stop that insufferable simpering and stand the fuck back up.

Because, let’s face it. They’ve successfully convinced you that everything bad that has happened to you has always been your fault. You were convinced that you always had it within your power to protect yourself from every external threat to your being. It was your fault they cheated. You weren’t putting out enough. It was your fault they choke you. You shouldn’t have mouth off. It was your fault he didn’t stop when you said no. You shouldn’t have invited him home.

IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT. YOU COULD HAVE PREVENTED IT. STOP ACTING SO WEAK. YOU’RE JUST…

*SCRATCH*

Dear Self,

You are much more than the sum of your scars and the world’s ambient noise.

Love,
You

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