I don’t even know where to start. It has been a ROUGH past couple of weeks for me and for many people that I know. I am exhausted…mentally and emotionally exhausted from all of the events that have been going on in the United States this month. I had to take a break from social media in order to protect myself and my wellbeing. I felt (and still do feel) stuck between “I need to protect my mental health” and “I need to stay informed”, so finding a balance between those things has been complicated.
In today’s blog post I am not going to talk about racial injustice like some of you have requested. There are plenty of amazing articles that speak about systemic racism in America and give insight into some of the main issues occurring these days.
Instead, I wanted to briefly come here to let you know that it is okay to not be okay. Sometimes I feel (especially as a Black woman) that I have to be strong all the time. Despite the adversity that we face in our lives, we somehow manage to smile and even make other people feel better about their petty issues. I am here to say you do not have to do that. It is okay to be hurt, to mourn, to not smile through the pain, and to be angry… really angry. Do not apologize for your emotions to make other people feel less uncomfortable. Do not feel like you need to back down so that you don’t rock the boat.
Being in Spain and watching from the outside as my people are fighting against racial injustice while mourning the deaths of people that I have never met, but feel so close to, has been really difficult for me. I am the only African American person that A LOT of people know. In the beginning, people would ask me what was going on in the USA and how could people (cops) be so cruel. I would engage in conversation and try to make them feel less bad about me (us) going through this. However, I realized that I was doing it… the classic “I am broken on the inside, but I am going to smile through the pain so that you don’t feel bad for me” thing.
I had to break that cycle. I don’t have very many people here in Spain that I can speak with who truly understand how I feel, so it was not easy to do. My sister (one of the wisest people I know) told me to just allow myself to feel. A piece of advice that felt so obvious and so simple ended up being the most effective. I allowed myself to feel sad when I was sad, and feel angry when I was angry, and to permit myself the mental space I needed, and to give myself permission to say no when someone needed me to make them feel better.
So here I am. I am back to Spain in Color. I am not back and stronger than ever, in fact I am back and I am not okay. But I am okay with not being okay, and I am going to continue moving forward and allowing myself to feel until I am.
I hope you all are well and are learning to cope alongside me.