I have been receiving a lot of feedback from individuals that have read my blog posts.
As a writer, it is always exciting when you get feedback because you know that your material is being read. Of course, as humans, we all share different beliefs, values, and standards. So, just like anything else, there are those individuals that are completely and wholeheartedly supportive as I embark on this journey. Then there are those completely repulsed by the notion of me sharing intimate details of my heartbreak and pain.
While I certainly understand the pause that comes from those that are closest to my writing, I question the general thought that a “true woman” would never “put her business in the streets” and should definitely “suffer in silence”. So, this piece was written for all of those “suffer in silence” proponents…for your consideration.
My teenager and I theorized one day, as we were riding in the car (being forced to ride in the car with me makes her open up :-)), that black families are the biggest proponents of “not putting our business in the streets” and “suffering in silence”.
If you are African-American, how often have you heard, “what happens in this house, stays in this house”? Now, I do not have any statistical data to support this theory, so do not ask. This was a thought created during our mommy/daughter chat. It was my thought that as black families, we already have so many eyes looking at us, under a skeptical microscope, ready to pounce on any “flaw” that we have. This has made us completely guarded and unwilling to expose our vulnerabilities to society. But, in doing that, what are we doing to ourselves?
It was also my thought that the burden is heavily placed on the women and children in our families to “not put our business in the streets”.
I based this theory solely on my personal experiences. Again, no statistical data. Men are seen as guarded and unwilling to communicate, so they are encouraged to open up and talk about their feelings. On the other hand, women are generally seen as chatterboxes who talk so much that men generally adopt a selective hearing mechanism that allows them to filter through all of the chatter. This selective hearing mechanism means women are never truly heard.
I, too, at one point embraced this notion of “what happens in this house, stays in this house”. As a result, I was mortified one day when my youngest daughter’s pre-k teacher, a young white female married with children of her own, pulled me aside. She wanted to let me know that she had been thinking about me and praying for me because my daughter had shared some things with her that made her concerned.
You see, the image that I projected when I walked out of my home was an African-American professional family that had it together. In my mind we were ticking the boxes on most things.
We were hard-working, educated professionals who lived in the right neighborhood, took vacations, were active in our community, actively participated in school functions, were supplementing our children’s education with cultural and social experiences that broadened their horizons, etc. And those boxes we ticked were the boxes that were “high priority” for us. I don’t think it was until the marriage was basically shattered that my husband and I started to focus on the thing that is the glue to the peace and happiness of a family, emotional security. Quite honestly, I don’t think my husband and I were given the tools we needed to even consider we desperately needed to make sure we were working to ensure emotional security in our household.
I struggled as I tried to explain to my then 4 year old child, you are not supposed to talk about what goes on at home to people that do not live with us.
I knew her young brain was not ready to be inducted into the “suffer in silence” club. All she was trying to do was talk about it so that she could figure things out and get rid of some of that pain she was experiencing. Quite honestly, as I sat there teaching her some of the mantras of the “suffer in silence” club, I knew that I was teaching her behavior detrimental to her well-being. All in the name of saving face in my community.
Well, as you can tell, I have turned in my “suffer in silence” membership card. In my humble opinion, it is impossible to carry the baggage of abuse, betrayal, dishonesty, etc., while trying to live your life to the fullest.
And, any efforts to “suffer in silence” creates angry, disheartened, unhealthy individuals. I am not willing to be that angry black woman that people are quick to criticize and laugh at but never stop to think about what has gotten her to that point. I am no longer willing to raise my children with a “suffer in silence” mentality. Quite frankly, I have simply come to the realization that the emotional well-being of my household far outweighs any accolades I will get from a community that forces me to “suffer in silence”.
Thank you for your consideration.