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Healing as a Black Woman
Sheila King, AA
Mental Health & Recovery Associate
My mother was my safety net in a house that had a lot of secrets. My mom passed away when I was six years old. I was never asked how I felt but I am sure I would not be able to elaborate on my feelings anyway. The safety I felt came from my mother. She really loved me, but I did not get to know her very well, just her warmth. I am sure that was where my fears and mental health illness emerged from, her death.
After her passing, I was sent to my paternal grandmother. My grandmother was up in age when she got me. She was a sharecropper’s daughter and had 7 children of her own. In her care, I always felt the need to protect myself since no one could or would. I walked around feeling afraid all the time. It became my constant friend. For a long time, I never knew the moment or second, I would be sexually assaulted.
They were men old enough to be my father or sometimes old enough to be my grandfather. I learned some safety measures that would protect me as best as I could. I would learn anything that would help protect me from them. In my mind, I had hoped that my grandmother would protect me but once again I had no hero to protect me. I learned to go within myself mentally so I could protect my mind even if I could not protect my body.
I never talked about being molested. I thought it would just disappear and go away but it did not. My thoughts were why could not I have a normal childhood. I thought because of the pain of my ancestors they gave me what they had, a lot of pain. The child is made to feel responsible for their behavior, actions, and to keep the acts secret. One cannot imagine wanting to protect your perpetrator; not because you wanted to, but because you wanted it to just go away.
The experience I had in my young life would shape me in many ways. I did many things trying to feel human. I know what it is like being overly mature in behavior. I acted out in many unhealthy ways. I chose men who were incapable of giving me what I thought I needed, safety.
I carried ideas of having children that I wanted to protect and care for. I wanted to provide them with what I felt like I did not have.
Despite of my start in life, I have discovered no matter how painful it can be, never give up. And know that you are more than what you see in your mirror of life.
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