Yes, i do love you. Madly. Maddeningly. And there’s nothing you can do about that.
But that’s not what i’m referring to when i say Love You. I mean literally that — Love You. Yourself. Your being. The You that you’ve become. The You you’re striving to be. Learn from the You you were, but love the You you are now. Love You!
A growing theme i’ve noticed over the last year has been the self-care/self-love, Mental Healthcare movement. Taking care of #1. It’s always sounded selfish to me, “Taking care of #1”, but with time, you realize how much sense it makes. If you don’t take care of you, you can’t take care of anyone else. You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of #1!
Just to share a little, this year has been a doozy for me. As you recall, i started the new year with a lovely throat infection that parlayed into another, which resulted in about a month of doctor-advised quarantine with very few orders to occupy my time (keep in mind — Baking is Therapy). Barely recovered from that, i was sideswiped by the passing of my grandmother. Ninety-one years she graced this earth. Praise God for favor! But that was another week of rollercoaster emotions. Let’s top all that off with my eldest cousin losing her battle with cancer two weeks after Gram passed. Wow! This has been an intense 2 months!
I had already anticipated January would be slow; everyone blew their cake wad in December. I was hoping for a boost from Valentine’s Day and my February Black History Month salutes, but no. So after both the Striking Teachers and LAX Furlough givebacks, my vaults were empty — financially, emotionally and physically. A couple of personal issues sat heavy on my shoulders as i tried to wade through the visceral soup that my year had turned into and i found myself sinking faster. I’m familiar with depression, anxiety and panic attacks. They’ve visited me every now and again throughout my adult life (because i don’t do the “straight and narrow”, many of my experiences have been angst-worthy). Stress and grief collided hard and i found myself wallowing. I had no energy, no desire, no verve, no interest. Nothing was satiating or uplifting, but you wouldn’t have known it by my online presence or my behavior outside of my home. I’ve gotten good with “putting on the face”. Which, by the way, is not a good coping mechanism…
Folks would regularly ask, “How are you?” and like a robot, i’d say, “Doing well, or I’m good, I’m good,” mainly because i knew they weren’t actually buying a ticket for the Donya’s Shitshow Monologues. Then i got that text… You know how you have that one person that can actually see through your bs and stick their hand deep into your soul to break up the muck? You know that one person you could go 6 months without talking to and pick right back up like your hips are welded together? Yeah, that person texted me to see how i was doing. And that visceral stew poured all over my phone. It felt so relieving, so lightening, to be so honest and bare my soul on how i was actually feeling! We had an amazing ugly cry conversation, pouring out tons of muck as quickly as our thumbs could bear. (Why not have called and talked to each other? Cuz neither one of us are “talkers”, plus it’s way easier to cry and text than cry and talk.) Oh but it felt soooooo good! We talked for an hour and i fell asleep puffy, drained and well.
As women – and present company represented – Black Women, it is our very nature to care for others, to put others’ needs ahead of ours, to backburner what is necessary for us to keep our head’s above water. Subsequently, women more often than men suffer from depression, anxiety and other psychoses. We hold too much! I’m not saying, “I’m a girl! My life is too hard! Rescue me!” Not at all. I’m saying if we don’t recognize what our burdens are, we’re bound to be crushed under them. You have to take care of you! You have to release what’s bringing you down or you will drown. No bull, real spit.
Now, I’m not saying go telling everybody your business. Like momma said, “Everybody ain’t your friend.” The enemy comes in many disguises, including family and lifelong friends. He lies in wait to get the best juicy bits from your story and use them later to convince you that you are worth less than you are, that things are harder than they appear to be and that you won’t succeed. Nah, buddy, not today! A true friend will listen, agree when you’re right and correct you when you’re wrong. They’ll sympathize, empathize and support, because a real friend knows when you just need someone to listen as opposed to providing a solution.
So what am i getting at? Take care of yourself, ok? Don’t hold things in that are troubling you. There’s nothing wrong with seeking wise counsel. There’s nothing taboo about needing to see a therapist. Preserve your sanity and mental health. And if that means eating half a cake by yourself, so be it. Who am i to judge or withhold help? (You knew i’d have to wrap it around to cake somehow, right?)
I love you and need you to love you too, okay?