A Love Letter To Women of Color
In order to care for others, we must first care for ourselves.
I believe that we are created to be in relationship with each other. We are relational beings; hard-wired to need emotional, spiritual, and physical connection with each other daily. I approach each day knowing this is a fundamental truth to my existence and govern myself accordingly. I hold spaces for myself and others who I am in relationship with.
To hold space is to create a moment or several for people to share, express, and just BE their most authentic selves; without judgment or an audience; with care and kindness; and with the expectation that some revelation, wisdom, or empathy will guide them to a space of greater clarity, relief, comfort and free of distress.
To hold space = showing up for folks.
When we show up for folks authentically and consistently, we give a lot of energy; meaning the more intimate and meaningful the relationships are, the more energy we spend in showing up for others. In showing up for folks, personally and professionally, especially during COVID-19, I am reminded that it is okay to become fatigued and NECESSARY to take a break. I want to take a moment to remind women, especially women of color, to rest, restore, and take time out for yourself.
As a Black woman, we are socialized and conditioned to be strong, resilient, and capable of showing up for everyone all the time. The reality is we have not had much of a choice. This is mainly due to the fact that we have not had the luxury or privilege that others have had to rely on systems, policies, etc. to show up for us. Therefore, women of color feel the extra burden of showing up each other. Personally, when showing up for other folks, I am often plagued with the question, “Who is showing up for me?”
While I know many folks are showing up for me daily, I recognize that the answer to that question is, “I must show up for me.” Let me repeat that “I must show up for me.” To show up for myself involves me taking some time each to ASK:
LaWanda, how are you feeling?
LaWanda, what is lingering with you?
LaWanda, what do you need at this moment?
I am encouraging you to pause and do the same. Insert your name to make it very real and ask yourself the questions:
How are you feeling?
What is lingering for you?
What do you need in this moment?
And then really take the time to ANSWER TRUTHFULLY. Then, DO what is necessary to recharge. Recharging looks different for everyone. For some, it is spending the day with family, friends, or your partner OR it is scheduling your weekly session with your therapists, OR it is spending a day in silence, isolation, or binge-watching your favorite show, OR it is simply giving yourself permission to rest. For me, it is slowing down, taking off my therapist hat, and giving myself permission to just be without responsibility to anyone other than myself. Whatever recharge looks like for you; I want to give you permission to do it TODAY!
During times of great stress and uncertainty, we NEED each other. But we cannot show up for others fatigued and burnt out. We must first show up for ourselves so that we can then show up for those we are in community with. It is essential. It is critical. It is necessary.
Take care of yourself!