A Black Man’s Healing Process
Photo c/o Charlie Wang
Black women of today are of a new caliber. As a result, the black man of today is going through a shift. Our appearance and exterior may appear the same, but something is different on the inside. Rapper Jay-Z is sharing his experiences with therapy and J. Cole is sharing his daily meditation ritual—the discussions about mental health in our community are growing. As black men, we are realizing the toxicity in our upbringing and it’s time for every single black man to take a step back, be still, and ask yourself those deep questions that no one else is asking you.
I’m 24 and single. About seven months ago my relationship of six years had ended suddenly. Neither one of us had lied, cheated, or anything of that nature. It was simply about both of our characters changing to a point where we were looking at each other wondering, “how did we get here?” After this long-term relationship ended, I admit I have never felt such an intense amount of heartache before. Somehow, realizing that I no longer could be focused on marriage or a future with this person, I began discovering wholeness and decoding my mess.
Am I Trash?
In a moment of stillness, yes, this is a valid question I have asked myself. Common trash behaviors in men are easily detectable but most men rarely consider the traits that are not so clearly defined as so. Do I withdraw from conflict? Why do I react the way I do? Is this the pain talking or is the pain revealing who I really am? What is this feeling and is it valid? No one said it better than Tasha on Insecure: “You’re worse than a fuck n*gga. You a fuck n*gga who thinks he’s a good dude.”
That was simply it. I figured I was an amazing boyfriend, friend, son, and overall good guy, however, I’d never been the man I could be because I wasn’t able to face my mess and define the areas in my life that experienced lack, such as my contribution in that relationship ending. Once I was able to do so, it put a lot of other things into context. From learning more about myself to unlearning the behaviors that would only continue to hold me back from who I wanted to be.
You in Therapy?
Who do you turn to when you're really going through it? We all talk to friends or family but that also drains them emotionally at times. Truth is, men aren’t going to be crying in the arms of their friends. We ask for advice from the women in our lives but men are only vulnerable to their special person. Here is the downside that I recognized in my turmoil which I need every black man to understand:
We have to stop employing women as our emotional support tools.
Women have enough to deal with and we place our trauma on them as well. As a man who has grown up in the church, my process of healing would have begun with my family telling me to pray about it. I, however, sought the help of a professional because nothing is wrong with therapy. I was broken. Seeing the many cracks in my life, I needed to speak to someone who could walk me through this journey as well as distinctly and surely help me overcome this moment in my life.
It’s about SELF
While in the process of healing, amongst many things, here are two lessons that I carry with me every day. The first being that there is a direct link between our emotional and physical strength. It’s important to exercise and maintain both, equally. When you are emotionally weak, feeling like you can do a push-up, can actually help you push through. The second was in regards to those painful moments of missing that person, feeling like you failed, or just feeling alone. I learned that I didn’t miss the love that person gave to me. I missed the love that I was able to give to them and the feeling it gave me to experience such love. So now, I am challenged with the opportunity to give all that love to myself.
Although it is often avoided, the time one has with themselves is the best time to work on yourself. Investing in yourself is always the best choice. Life takes work and it requires us to work on ourselves in the process. Once I decided to invest in myself, nothing was off limits. The first step I had to take in the process was being okay with being alone. It's a difficult feeling to put into words, but I woke up one day and realize that I didn't care about how anyone felt about me because of how I felt about myself. The pain and loneliness started to reveal to me who I really was. Every insecurity, vulnerability, and weakness was able to rise to the surface. People often avoid being alone because it can be uncomfortable. Without the noise or chatter of family or friends, you're left with only you and your thoughts.
Isolation is often looked down upon. It's why most people would never buy a movie ticket, eat at a restaurant, or travel by just themselves. In a moment of stillness, I had to tell myself that I couldn't wait for someone else to add value to my life. My life had to become valuable and purposeful with or without someone else. This is not a new point of view, however, when you have been living day to day with the comfort of someone else's love, you forget how yours feels. Even as I write this, I feel some sense of uneasiness because we never hear about black men and how they show themselves self-love. What I came to realize was that when I give love to someone else, I give it 100%. So I decided to show myself that same level of care and attention and invest time in learning to love myself. After work was everything from fitness classes to reading to even getting a manicure. I had to get used to living life alone so that I could have that time to truly learn who I am.
It sounds weird to say, but in some ways, I’m happy that the heartbreak happened. I am happy to have hit a low. I am happy because without it I probably would’ve never taken the time to work on myself like I did.
During moments of searching for healing, I found that black women have multiple outlets of encouragement. Black women have been able to quantify areas of lack or difficulty in their life and have been able to assist others in the process. Doing so has fostered a space of sisterhood filled with magic. Black men, honestly, need to start doing the same. I realized that most don’t even know where to begin a process filled with self-analyzation, transparency, awareness, and growth. However, In order for black men to be better for black women, we must first do the work and ensure that we are better for ourselves and this requires healing.
Believe me when I say, seeking counseling or therapy probably won't be the easiest decision to make. Constantly remembering and relieving the pain you wish you could just forget can be an agonizing process. However, the progress and growth within yourself will make you proud that you came out the other side better than you entered. We all have a past and we all are probably not proud of everything we've done, but it is important to address the past so that it does not keep affecting your future. Being able to seek help saved my life. Being able to address my insecurities and brokenness has made me a better man. Being able to recognize how I can be better for myself has made me an overall better person and I want to encourage everyone to brave their healing process because you will be glad that you did the work.