I’m 4 years post hysterectomy and a part of me thought I would be emotionally healed by now, but then again what is the definition of healed? I started therapy 1 year and 3months ago which was 3 years post hysterectomy, “Yes I know, why did it take me so long?”, I will give you my reason why, then I will talk about why this happens in women, particularly Black women.
Okay, so why did it take me so long to go to therapy? If you’ve been following me for a while then you know I have a Masters degree in Christian Mental Health Counseling, so what does that mean you ask? For three years I thought I could handle it, I thought I could therapy myself (insert side eye emoji), so go figure self-therapy didn’t work. What woke me up was a moment when I was sitting in church and a beautiful baby looked at me and smiled, I smiled back and I felt tears streaming down my face, as I began wiping them away more were flowing, at that point I knew I needed a minute, but that minute led to me leaving. My heart was broken, I felt empty, I was grieving, and I needed help.
The Stigma of Therapy:
In the Black community and other cultures especially Caribbean culture, seeing a therapist is not something you do because it’s for crazy people, The Lord can heal all wounds talk to Him, “what happens in this house stays in this house” mind set, or being a “strong” woman means handling it on your own. Whichever reason resonates with you is a recipe for a break down. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in the healing power of God, but God gave some the ability to become a physician. You go to the doctor when you are ill and for checkups, a therapist is the same, they are gifted in helping you manage your mental and emotional health and often spiritual as well.
I must say therapy helped me to understand that it was oaky to feel what I was feeling because I am grieving the loss of what I wanted my future to look like (dream), and my ability to conceive and give birth to a child. My therapist also assisted me in creating healthy boundaries for myself that will help me emotionally but will also help me in the healing process.
What does Healing and Boundaries look like?
Remember when I said at the beginning of this post, what is the definition of healed? Before therapy I couldn’t walk pass or look in the direction of a children’s section of a store, I can do that now. We often think healing is when you stop feeling what you feel, but what we fail to realize is that healing is a process it happens gradually, complete healing allows you to live, you will find yourself letting go of your boundaries, you may still cry or feel hurt, but you won’t be stuck in that moment.
Healing often comes when setting boundaries, boundaries are for your protection. The problem I had with boundaries at first was feeling like people would judge me without understanding. This past Thanksgiving was the first time I expressed to my cousins that if they got pregnant I wouldn’t be able to attend their baby shower, and I explained that this could change in the next 6 months to a year I didn’t know, but my love hasn’t changed but as of now I can’t handle it emotionally. I was both shocked and happy to know that they support my decision, the shock comes from my inner thought of being judged negatively yes that does mean I didn’t give my family a chance off the bat, but again the positive is I challenged that thought with my transparency. Even though my experience with this was positive know that not everyone will understand, and that will challenge you to set another boundary of the people you want in your lives (only if they absolutely can’t seem to understand your feelings).
In addition to not attending baby showers I also remove myself from baby talk conversations mostly when I’m feeling emotional. I’m at a place ow where I recognize my emotions when they arise part of my emotional imbalance is due to the menopause, but I recognize when I can handle a situation/conversation, I know when I can look at baby pictures. Certain movies I cannot watch, post hysterectomy the movie “What to do when you’re expecting” came out, that was a definite NO! The important thing about boundaries is understanding that it’s okay to feel what you feel (to a certain extent).
Something important to know about boundaries is to remember you, but also remember the feelings of others, I know I know it sounds like I’m contradicting myself but hear me out. We still have to respect other because we also expect respect. Be careful of how you communicate your boundaries, if someone shows you a picture of a baby it’s not okay to push it away or become hostile, it’s not okay to get an invite to a baby shower or a child’s birthday party and say, “I don’t go to those or why would you invite me?” If you at any point feel like hostility is where most of your conversations or reactions are or you feel like harming yourself or someone else that is not okay, and my suggestion is calling a prevention hotline and seeking therapy.
“Strong” is not suffering in silence nor is it “weak”, For most people we have to change our determination of strong to the ability to know where we fall short, and when we need help. We are human ladies NOT!!! Super heroes don’t expect yourself to “heal” immediately especially for those who are dealing with infertility/miscarriage but know that there is help for your mental and emotional health and boundaries are okay. If you haven't seen my latest YouTube video check it out: Have you set boundaries for yourself? If so, what are they? Here is some are some resources: Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
Find A Therapist:
Therapy For Black Girls: www.therapyforblackgirls.com
Psychology Today: www.psychologytoday.com