We shelter the pain of those around us, keep it boarded up and festering in our spirit so they don’t experience discomfort. We bolster confidence through diminishing ourselves all for the greater good. We are doormats, protection from any blemish. We are filled with the sorrows of every person we encounter, yet we still impart joy. We are powerful yet will feign powerless to keep the peace.
I often wonder, when and where did I sign up to silence my womanhood so that a man can assert his manhood over me?
When I was young, I did not realize I was being conditioned to fit into this mold of being “right” for a man. Before I was taught to truly love myself, I was in training. “Learning how to cook will make you more appeasing to a man, teaching you laundry will help you in your household, start ironing now, so you are able to do this for your family.” The same rhetoric would be recited to my brother, but instead it was just for him as a growing man, not in conjunction with being suitable for a woman.
Though I didn’t fully understand it before, now, as I look back, my mom was only instilling in me what society has socialized us to accept. The deeds we do are meant to be in service of the men around us instead of raising us to enjoy what life has to offer through our own independence.
There is no wonder as to why so many women often go into panic attacks, fits of anger, and suffer chronic depression. Research shows about 12 million women in America experience depression each year (Mental Health America). Some contributing factors are the societal pressures, family responsibilities, and the roles/expectations of women. It is not enough as a woman to be good. There is an expectation to be extraordinary at work and home, all the while neglecting the self.
One solution I am finding is to, first and foremost, give yourself permission to serve yourself first. As a married woman, you will constantly be in “pour” mode, with little to no fuel left for yourself. This must stop. At minimum, once a week, you ought to treat yourself to a pampering afternoon and a pampered day during the weekend. For singles and married women, guilt is not to be associated with “me time.” You cannot be any good to anyone else if self-care isn’t administered and taken. Lastly, do not apologize for the time you need to take care of yourself. Remember, no one faults the man who needs a break from the monotony of his life. It is not our responsibility to shoulder all the burden.
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