I started a new job in August that I was so excited about and the vision they had for where they are going, the new role, and new pay. I’ve worked in the same industry for 16 years now in progressing roles. In December, I found myself still excited about their vision, but the vision has no movement. The capacity in which my role is designed to operate, is not. I’m finding myself sort of irritated with my hands tied. Things are technically good at the job, but I still feel stagnant in progress of what we are supposed to be doing. Sometimes feeling like it’s me not wanting to go the course and change will happen, I just have to be patient. I realized what’s happening, as always, I get irritated when growth is near or required to happen. I’m in “eagle” mode, which happens after a while. The difference this time is that some change is immediate now and I’m used to being loyal and dedicated to jobs, family, etc.
I remembered that 6 months ago, I was praying to God to give me direction about the next steps in my life since the passing of my mother. I needed his guidance as all my decisions made in the last 8 years related to jobs, career progression, entrepreneurship, romantic relationships (still not married), etc. were based on making sure her health and needs were met. I had to remain flexible and present so that she could be taken care of the best we knew could be provided to her. I wanted to continue working in the community and helping underserved individuals. However, I wanted to have a job that made me feel close to my mother and advocate for others at the community-level around diabetes and other morbidities. Knowing that if my mother didn’t have the children she had to advocate and help her navigate resources and healthcare, she would have perished a long time ago. She often said it herself. We worked diligently to take care of our mom for years as her health continued to decline, but she fought back and conquered every time the enemy tried to throw stuff at her.
My mother left this earth and gained freedom on December 18, 2017 at the age of 59. My mother’s passing is the biggest obstacle I’ve had to deal with, and I have had some big ones! I didn’t have the capacity for a while to even begin to deal with myself emotionally. My mother had raised me to be Her 2.0/ Superwoman. However, no matter how much preparing me as a woman who could withstand almost anything, she couldn’t prepare me how to be Superwoman without her in my life. I was used to her being in my life and taking care of her needs. I was HER Superwoman and that task was not for the weak at heart! I have always been able to excel in crisis and delay my responses, but emotionally, I was a wreck and I’m still a work in progress. My mother was my biggest critic. She would most times be harsher than needed, but even then was able to tell me how much she knew I would pull through, get through. This time, I experienced my kryptonite and there was a war and I had no idea how I would get back on track with anything. Superwoman was down and was upset because she couldn’t shake the fact that what she was feeling and going through was ok and it was ok to accept help and compassion from others. She was barely maintaining enough every hour to be the mother she needed to be for her son and make it through the work day. She was upset that even though she was happy her mom wasn’t suffering, she missed her and was mad she left her alone.
God has brought me to this point of now being able to see that it’s time to press and soar once again. He’s removed the learned guilt from sacrificing before mom died and the guilt of moving on after. I also remembered what I learned 8 years ago when I was introduced to the concept of “shifting” among African American women. The word shifting describes something that is in constant change and that change especially being unpredictable. The book, Shifting: The Double Lives of Black Women in America by Ms. Charisse Jones and Kumea Shorter-Gooden discusses many things as it relates to Black women, race, and gender bigotry. However, the authors discuss how we shift inward, internalizing the searing pain of the negative stereotypes that we encounter every day. The truth is, my mother learned to shift as it related to what it meant to be a strong Black woman, daughter, and mother as she grew up. I also, learned to shift in the same areas. My mother was going to make things happen. In her case, her health was always last and other people first. I was in the same cycle and realized I needed to stop it. The Superwoman complex was coming to an end and the war inside I mentioned earlier, was because I was no longer able to shift and pretend to be alright and just push through like everything was ok. I couldn’t no longer hide when I was sad, angry, hurting, or any other emotion. There were things inside that needed to come out and honestly, this was only stuff that I had to acknowledge so that God could begin to heal. No one could pull me out, but God.
IMPORTANT LESSONS LEARNED DURING THIS PROCESS
The Superwoman (SW) or the “Shifting” Woman will war against the process you need to begin healing. I was so used to excelling in the face of adversities and being strong first and respond later. There was a war with the process of grief that I needed to begin to heal and the SW I’ve learned to be. In the middle was God standing and showing himself to me in many forms. He was reminding me of my relationship with him and ushering me to go back to focus on him above both. You see I’m better and I might can go 2 or 3 weeks now without “breaking down”. There were times that I was just trying to make it through 3 minutes. It was so bad and there were points that all I had was to cry out to God. I began to remember to worship him for who he is, even in this. I had to thank him for the mercy and grace he extended to my mother on many occasions. I thanked him, for her relationship had become so strong in God and that’s what she wanted. She would testify of his greatness and helped others to see the miracles of him as they looked at her. I thanked him for the opportunity that no matter how traumatic the experience of losing her 3 times that day, we were able to be with her and say our goodbyes even though she couldn’t talk, she could respond with a squeeze and tears. Thanking him that through those tears we knew she heard us tell her how great a mother, woman, and grandmother she was, and grateful for what could be mended in preparation of this day. The ability to promise that we would stay together and look out for each other with her teachings and not to worry. Thankful of the peace in her last breath and on her face. See MY SUPERWOMAN fought her whole life until her last day, but being ready to go so long before that. She was finally Superwoman without shifting her womanhood to be everything to everyone. She no longer had to shift in the way she displayed her emotions, her tolerance for pain, her disgust for thinking she was a burden and so on…….her shifting ended. Now, the same shifting to be every woman in all situations that I also learned in many ways, is ending for me. This process of maintaining good mental health in a way that is healthy for me, is breaking that cycle or curse, that I have engaged in as so many others.
There are many reasons, situations, or experiences that cause us to shift an accommodate these situations so that we might survive or help others survive. We shift to be the working woman, entrepreneur, caretaker, mother, spiritual advisor, mentor, community activist, etc. We fight so hard not be poor and help the poor because we were once poor. We are there for people who always need us, but in cases, it’s because no one was there for us. We go to these jobs and be the most loyal and dedicated worker the company has ever had as we were taught, but the company doesn’t see you and/or value you. We stay in relationships with lovers, family, friends, and more because we think we can help fix whatever IT is because no one was there to help fix us when we needed it. Yet, God gave instruction to move on a while ago from certain things. I’m realizing that now in my life, I don’t owe myself to anything or anyone. I’ve paid my dues in the area of loyalty and dedication. My mother confirmed as months before she was going to leave this earth, she was dropping those things at random that she wanted to make sure each of us had and remembered from us growing up and until now. Some advice together and some separate. Last week, one of those conversations came back to me as it relates to the job issue I discussed in the beginning of this blog and some jobs prior. She also referred to other things of life, as she thought most times, I was extremely too dedicated to certain things and people that were not to me. Also as she did. She wanted me to live my life after she was gone. She wanted me to remember that I deserved to have the jobs, businesses, volunteering, and other goals I had worked so hard on attaining before I had to make decisions that impacted her care, loved ones, etc. My mom told me…….
“Don’t let your dedication be to your detriment.”
Reference: Shifting: The Double Lives of Black Women in America by Ms. Charisse Jones and Kumea Shorter-Gooden