When I was a little girl I knew I would marry one day. Although I did not know how to become a desirable woman to attract the right guy, I searched for him very early. I was introduced to womanhood very slowly, but the need to belong to someone who would love me was my driving force. As a youngster I can count how many times I was told ‘You are pretty,’ yet there was a myriad of negative remarks about my physique (even still today) insomuch that it led me to doubt my adequacy, image, significance and acceptance by others.
I never thought about the emotional damage that came from the name-calling or innuendos because it was so routine that any constructive praise came as a surprise. Just imagine a person trying to use malice words in a positive way and this sums up the mood and ambiance in a house that was led by women who were mainly parenting from their agony. I know the words ‘You are pretty’ that were never spoken does not define me, as a person. But the little girl then didn’t know that. I only wanted to hear something different than what society could offer.
My story about female wounds is like so many other girls of my race and culture. Thus, another blog can be written about how patterns are repeated and passed along through generations in the black community, and in some homes of mixed-relations, when hurt is the regulator of most actions and decisions. I believe the pain from which our black community parents is inadvertently related to the psychosomatic conditions of slavery that now reveals itself in the muteness of stories, the bearings of distress and the inability to discern a cyclical array of the same problems that continue from one generation to the next. Hence, the chastising and bondage, if you will, has disabled innate traits like nurturing, loving and hugging that was either severed, forced shut or forever hidden and replaced with thrashings, hatred or nonacceptance.
So instead of releasing the hurt to learn of new coping methods that leads to better understanding and accepting for and towards one another, the black family has built walls of defense to guard the heart and seal it away from sensations in deep places that are alleged to be unreachable. This action leads to remnants of our pain that grow dormant because it is now a part of our normalcy, living within us today. The fragments are further witnessed in accusations about and at each other and also present in our parenting styles when we first whip our children in hopes to solve an issue before we know the problem because releasing our frustration makes us feel good, temporarily. Adopting this approach is unhealthy and counterproductive because hitting is a temporary attempt to address a long-term problem that can be unearthed using different approaches, i.e. intervention, confession of faults, etc. Conversely, a person in today’s era still practices yesteryear’s tendencies, challenging change because it is unaccustomed.
So, the little girl that lives in me today is aware of why the unkind remarks about my image were voiced and the emotional closeness was practiced because the positive of the two simply couldn’t be found in the heart of that young girl who also remains active in my mother’s life that yearned for the same compliment from her own mother who didn’t properly validate. A scholar, name Dr. Shefali Tasbary speaks and writes about the dichotomy of the parent-child relationship (among other subjects) and she asserts how the personalities within us as parents can have a stronghold on different aspects of our life, particularly when we parent.
The scholar is quoted saying, “Moment after moment after moment, your child acts as your mirror. Through every interaction you have with your child, you are really interacting with yourself. Every way you relate to your child is a reflection of how you relate to your own inner world.” This statement is profound and it speaks to different facets of a parent-child relationship and it helps me to better know and consent to the emotional space I share with my mother.
To better understand is to know one’s past hurt. – Felita Williams, MPH