I like to think of myself as someone who is sort of a chameleon, as I grew up on both sides of the track. My mother's side of the family is from Virginia Beach: a church going, tight knit family, who pushed education, prayer, Sunday school and Sunday dinners. I attended a predominantly white school, where it was hard for students to understand how someone who looked like me could actually be smart and financially stable. The only other black children who went to school with me were my cousins, and this was my experience until I got to high school. My weekends though, were a different story. I spent them with my dad's side of the family in Norfolk, Virginia (the other side of the track). A predominantly black community where poverty and crime were at an all time high in the 90’s. Summers consisted of being in the alleys, candy ladies and green box meet ups with the neighborhood kids, and I felt like I was finally fitting in somewhere.
But that feeling of "fitting in," changed when I got to high school. I moved to Atlanta and went to Duluth HS, and although I had plenty of experiences with being around black people; being at Duluth was a culture shock to me as this was not only the first time in my life that I was going to a school with more black people, but the first time I had been bullied by people who looked like me. It was confusing, frustrating and truly weighed on how I viewed black women, which essentially led to the insecurities I struggle with today. I came from a place where people loved me, saw me and heard me, to now being in place where I felt small, unloved and hated for talking proper English or sounding “white” as some would say. I had panic attacks before school and I became a person who didn’t want to be around other people until I met my first friend. She and I became really close and for a short time, she and her mom ended up moving in with me and my family which allowed our bond to grow even deeper. But that was ripped from me months later, when her mother packed them up and left without even saying goodbye. I felt abandoned, betrayed and used. "Is this how black women in the south act?" "Is this how friendships with black women are supposed to be?" were questions I constantly asked myself.
After high school, I continued to have repeated cycles of friendships and relationships where black women came into my life, used me and then abandoned me. As a result of these experiences, I don't know that I've had anyone genuinely love me; at least with no conditions on who they want me to be for them. So I took a step back and evaluated what I was allowing in my relationships for so many years. Once I did this, instead of allowing my heart to harden based on painful experiences, it allowed me to start holding space for people to be who they are. I made sure that when my friends came to me, I listened genuinely and allowed them to be transparent with no judgment. I thought if I did those things then it would manifest back to me. But what I have learned is no matter who I am to people, it doesn’t mean they will always be that to me. When I started therapy, one of the first eye opening things my therapist said to me was, "Shacara, you're the light that people need but you have to be that same light to your self."
Once I stopped putting so much focus on everyone else and what they weren’t doing, I was able to start taking care of myself mentally and emotionally, doing the things I love and really prioritizing myself. As a result of these internal choices, it was like everything began to work out for me - the moments I felt like I didn’t fit in anywhere, the universe started creating space for me in places I never imagined. My fear of building relationships with black women because of my past went away, and I’ve met women who create and hold space for me, that show up for me, validate me and mirror what I am to them. The lesson I had to truly learn was people will never be who I am and that's okay. And where my blessing lies is, I'll never be them. Although I still battle with the anxiety attached to building relationships with black women, I know that it's okay because healing is a journey that I am choosing to go on.
I'm Healing Not Healed.