When it comes to the healing process of a physical injury, doctors, friends, and even strangers will encourage you to take your time, don’t rush or you might run the risk of more physical injury. When it comes to an emotional injury, however, society gives you permission to be sad, process trauma, grieve, or be frustrated for about a week before they expect you to feel better, get over it, get back to work, get back to being a mom, etc. This is one of those societal unrealistic expectations that we have learned to adjust our mindsets around when what we really need to do is change the narrative.
This narrative is especially true for Black women who since the beginning of slavery have been taught to endure and keep going, no matter what. If you went into labor, you had the baby in the field you were working in and kept working. If your husband and/or children were ripped away from you and sold, you had to keep going. Back then it was literally a life or death situation if you didn’t, and unfortunately, that lesson of unrealistic strength and endurance has been passed down for generations. Mothers, grandmothers, sisters, and aunts have continued to use this concept as a blueprint for strength and in turn, has crippled the emotional healing process for Black women. Establishing a new way of thinking when it comes to healing emotional wounds like fear, loneliness, abandonment, rejection, trauma, grief…has literally been an internal fight and almost to our detriment. Because of this, we have learned to adopt certain coping strategies to make it seem like we are okay. Things like denial, keeping ourselves unnecessarily busy, ignoring the pain, laughing it off, refusing to cry, refusing anyone’s offer to help and hiding behind phrases like “I’m fine” or “it is what it is” have become our go to strategies for appearing strong.
It can be easy to be hard on ourselves when it comes to emotionally healing because society has convinced us that we should be doing so at an unrealistic rate. It can cause us to question our strength and even question our ability to heal. Don’t believe it, Sis! What’s important to understand is when we put a time limit on feeling better it increases the amount of time it takes to actually feel better. This concept has always been true. We just weren’t allowed to embrace that truth, but now we can. And, understanding that everyone’s process might look different and be paced differently is critical to your healing journey. Taking your time and addressing the root cause of your emotional injury while showing yourself some self-compassion is the best way to approach this process in a sustainable way. Just like you can’t rush the healing process for a physical injury, you can’t rush the process for an emotional one. Take your time, don’t rush it or you may run the risk of more emotional damage.