For most people of color, the word "resilience" has different meanings. For folks who are often subjected to several obstacles in their lives, many live in a mindset that there is never any room to thrive and constantly live in survival mode.
I too, suffer from the same problem.
Since a very early age, I have dealt with various forms of pain. Whether it was being bullied, ridiculed, ignored or treated unfairly: I have learned to live in a state of mind that someone and almost anyone is going to cause me pain in some shape or form in my life. But after spending almost two months working with a therapist this summer, I am finally able to say with an open and honest heart that I am working towards ending my relationship with pain and the people who cause it.
When I first got to college the first thing I wanted to do was make friends. Because my K-12 experience had been so painful, I had finally felt like I was at a place in my life where I finally could connect with people who really saw the "real" me. After several months and years of trying to maintain these friendships, I learned that because I had gotten so use to people saying and doing mean/painful things to me, I had learned accept the same when it came to my friendships.
One friend I had in college referred to me as "G-Jon" for the entire friendship I had with them. When I asked what the letter G meant, I learned that it was because I was "Gay-Jon" in her phonebook. Another friend I had in college would often ask me to go out with them to local queer clubs in Southern California and would often leave me by myself when they found someone who interested them more than me. Another friend called me fat to my face, expressing to me that if I ever wanted to find a boyfriend at that time, I needed to lose weight.
These type of things happened to me over and over again. The sad part about it was that often, I let them because I has normalized and internalized painful friendships as a way to validate my existence. The same can be said about many of the family dynamics I have experienced growing up as well.
Painful Family Dynamics
Because my family is small and I have always been the "different" one, I have always felt as if there was a spotlight on me. That spotlight shined even brighter on me because most of my immediate family members are male. So when I decided that I did not want to play football or date girls who may have shown interest in me in middle school or high school, various red flags went up.
Once, when singing and dancing at a family members home, I was told that I needed to act more like my brother because I made them feel uncomfortable. At another time, I was told to refrain from singing because I sounded like a little girl. Most recently, I was told by a family member that they loved me, but could not accept "my lifestyle" because of there religious beliefs.
Through working open and honestly with my therapist, I have learned that a great deal of who I am and how I feel about myself has been constructed by the conditions of friendship or kinship that I have received in my short time here on this earth. But as I continue to grow and learn, I am starting to understand that the words relationship, love and pain should never be interconnected.
Learning to Let Go
I share these stories in this post not because I need someone to feel sorry for me: but to simple make the point that if there are people in your life who are causing you pain, family, or not, it is okay to end your relationship with the pain that they are causing you.
Understanding that often others are the root of your pain is important, but it is even more important for you to understand that you DO NOT have to live in a place where you surviving the pain that someone is causing you.
Now for a quick disclaimer: I do not want folks to read this and think that I am telling you to just start cutting folks off because they may have said or done something that hurt you. We are all imperfect. It is going to happen at some point in our lives. If you have the capacity, take a moment to let these individuals know what type of pain they are causing you.
If they truly love and value you, they will hear where you are coming from and do their best to help in the pain they are causing you. But when these individuals fail to understand how the things they say and do are causing you pain, feel free to let that pain go. Even when there are friends and family connected to it.
I hope this post inspires you all to start growing from your pain instead of existing/surviving it because you deserve the right to live without duress.
Sending you all love and light.