Therapy was a dirty word growing up. The only people who went to therapy had money, or had something “wrong with them”.
“Don’t make me put you in therapy, you’re acting crazy.” The moment that sentence was said, it would cause you to immediately clam up.
If you were feeling anything and expressing it, it suddenly stopped. Because your voice didn’t matter.
If someone mentioned therapy it was often as a threat towards you or to talk down about someone.
As a Black woman, I’ve lost count of the amount of times I was told to pray rather than go to therapy. Or to stop being the way I was.
It became engrained to stuff painful things deep down inside and keep operating. In order to make other people comfortable.
How you acted and how you appeared in comparison to everyone else is what mattered more.
Comparisons to others were constantly used as a gauge. As a benchmark to where you were supposed to be as a person. Emotionally, mentally, physically. Instead of acknowledging what someone was feeling, it was, “Well this person was able to get through this, why can’t you?”
As a Black person, you’re told how you’re supposed to be and act by everyone: family, friends, strangers, work, society at large. It’s in the not so subtle ways, like being told what to do with your hair. Being made fun of for how you are, being teased and told you talk or act white. You’re given very little space to simply exist as a person. It’s as if every action and move of yours is analyzed.
Making a decision to go to therapy, is often encountered with judgment and assumptions about you. But as someone who continues to go and has lived the alternative of keeping everything inside and letting it cause havoc to me instead, I can say that people will have something to say about you regardless. Especially if you prioritize your health and start expressing what you need. If it’s something different, it’s deemed foreign. Unless and until it becomes more common.
Your health is more important than what others think about you. When you live in a society that judges your every move, it can be hard to remember that.