You Have the RIGHT to Tell Folks How to Show Up for You
We live in a world (at least in Minnesota) where we feel almost guilty to tell our loved ones how they need to show up for us. I mean...what?
I recently discovered this when I was sharing with some friends about giving me the space to vent (which isn't often) and not dismissing my feelings or having a "get over it" connotation attached to their "advice". It was over a situation that had me taken aback, and I trusted that my friends would not try to tell me how I'm feeling or tell me that what I'm feeling is irrational. (Trust me, if you knew the story, you should know that what I was feeling was not irrational). I felt that in that moment, let me feel what I am feeling so that I can move past it. Not to sweep it away and force me to tuck it under the rug because you feel it's not worth the time.
As I'm sharing with them, I started to realize that sometimes people don't even realize the impact of their actions (or inaction) and words. I'm pretty sure they really believed the way they responded was what they felt was best for me. But the impact was not reciprocated. I left that conversation feeling like I was yelling through a megaphone and everyone had on earplugs.
I am normally a guarded person. I don't let people get too close unless I truly trust you. There are selected few that have seen me in my most vulnerable space, or have at least seen me in my not so bright moments, that I have a newfound respect for. But, these folks that have seen me in all of my glory, I had to let them know how to show up for me and I made sure they knew they could do the same.
But it's hard to come by friends and family that are open to this kind of relationship.
A couple of days later, I had a good conversation with my mom. It was a typical hour conversation about what's been going on in our lives when suddenly something shifted. I won't go into detail, but I left that conversation feeling disposable. Her actions seemed to be unintentional, but the impact was still hurtful.
I went to my fiance and shared some thoughts, and his words were unexpected. I felt that I should have been ashamed of how I was feeling at that moment. That what I was asking from folks was too demanding. I felt that I didn't deserve to have that open space to discuss with those that I love, how to love me.
Ain't that crazy?
So I went straight into prayer mode because these thoughts had me questioning myself. I questioned whether I am a selfish person, do these people really know how to love me? Am I asking too much? Why am I feeling the way I'm feeling now?
I then began a Bare Naked poetry series that I am sharing everyday on my Instagram. Each poem is to help me come to who I truly am (I suggest that we all journal in some way to get all these thoughts out of our brains). I began realizing that I had some old skin to shed. It was like I was starting to come out of my cocoon but I'm still raw because the new flesh isn't fully developed yet.
During this journey, I started to realize my own habits in which I tried to protect myself from others. I started to realize that I am not selfish for having boundaries. I began realizing that I am still not sure exactly who I am. I came to this conclusion when I started to behave according to what people thought I was. I am strong, resilient, and joyful, but because of my strong exterior people often assume that I don't have vulnerable moments. When I do have a vulnerable moment and express how I need to be treated during these times, the folks that don't understand that side of me still seem to think "oh, she'll get over it." Or they deem me as angry.
This tweet happened to pop up on my timeline, and I felt so many emotions at that moment. 1) I always knew that being a Black woman came with some pre-conceived notions of who we are and how we should respond to things. 2) I didn't know what the hell misogynoir meant. So I did some digging and came across this:
According to Black feminist Moya Bailey: Misogynoir – a portmanteau that combines “misogyny” and the French word for black, “noir” – is a term coined by the queer Black feminist Moya Bailey to describe the particular racialized sexism that Black women face.
the specific hatred, dislike, distrust, and prejudice directed toward black women (often used attributively):
The prominence of the Angry Black Woman trope means that my actions are read as angry, even when they’re not. It’s a tactic used in order to belittle our valid anger by portraying it as an inherent character flaw, rather than a justified reaction to circumstances. -Kesiena Boom
I found this quote in a post that Kesiena Boom created called 4 tropes that Perfectly Explain What Misogynoir is-and How You Can Stop it. One of those tropes is 'The Angry Black Woman'. "This trope plays on the idea that any discomfort expressed by a Black woman is unreasonable. Because something unreasonable is easily dismissed."
It was exactly how I felt at that moment I was being treated in the conversation with my friends. It was also how I felt I was being treated by my fiance, and then my mom. But, what happens here that the ideology of the Black woman in America (and I'm sure elsewhere) has been adopted by many of us Black women too! We start to dismiss another Black woman's emotion as irrational or unreasonable thus creating this narrative within our own community that what you say does not matter and no one is listening.
Since I am still learning about this topic, I will refrain from speaking on it much further, but I thought you'd like to know that this is a thing (and also, go read that post).
So, after all of this, I needed to become separated from these folks for a while until I gained my footing again. While I'm still in prayer mode, scripture reading, and constant journaling and poetry writing, I am noticing the skin I am developing. The newness of the person I thought I was, to the person I know I am. I am discovering the unapologetic way that I must show up. I am discovering that it is perfectly okay to tell your loved ones how to love you. BUT, you first need to know how you need to be loved. My first step was going to God and Him reminding me of whose I am. I am a child of God (my first name literally means child of God). What is a better reminder than that?
So, if you've read all the way to the end, and if I know you personally, just know that this Tanaya is in a growth stage. I'm growing through this situation and I'm surrounding myself with true love. I'm authentically showing up. I'm making moves even when I feel fearful or undeserving, and I'm reminding myself over 10 times a day that I am deserving of all things God blesses me with. I am not what people say I am or how they treat me, I am who GOD says I am. And there ain't nobody that can get in the way of that.
You are deserving as well. The narrative that we have to feel ashamed about standing our ground and speaking our truth has to end today. I'm telling you that I'm still scared sometimes. I still get afraid that I'm going to lose some folks. I'm still trembling when I walk into a room unsure. But the difference is that this time, I am intentionally being built into the person I am meant to be and leaving behind the person that was. I pray you start doing the same.
Show up, and show out.