2008-03-18

Black People and Therapy



In my post about child rearing I shared with people my pain and depression I suffered through when I miscarried. Many suggested I look into some form of counseling to deal with my grieving.

I know this sounds awful, but I don't know if I can handle therapy. I was always told that it was something white people do, and if you do it, you are crazy. Ironically, one of my friends is a counselor, and we often talk about black people and therapy often, because she says it is frustrating to her that there are black people with my warped mindset about therapy. I have gone to two therapy sessions in my life. It was to talk about the sexual abuse I endured. I don't think I actually ever opened up. I never gave details, I never explained my reactions to it, and I was pretty much a quiet person with not much to say, which is a complete and utter miracle, I always have something to say. I don't think I have ever told anyone the details of what happened. My parents still don't know, my husband doesn't really know (I have said vague things to him in the past) and to add insult to injury my new brother and sister (aka my cousins) are children and niece of nephew of two of my abusers. So I cope with that. I am thankful I have been able to treat them separate from their mother and uncle.

My response to most things is to internalize or turn to other things. When I was younger it was staying chaste, when I went to college it was be a hoochie with guys I didn't even like, after that phase it was food. I go through phases (food and sex) pretty much every six months. No I do not have random sex with men now that I am married, but I use sex to smooth things over. Yeah you are going to have to highlight this, as this is TMI: If he is mad at me, a pair of panties works every single time. I want to smooth things over, so sex is my way to do that for him. If I am mad, I usually turn to sex as relief. Sex is my coping mechanism at times when food doesn't work.When I miscarried I turned to food, and I gained a ton of weight I had just lost previous to finding out I was pregnant. I pretty much became a nun for few months, scared of having sex, scared of getting pregnant If I can't walk away during an argument, I feel trapped, panic, and freak out on occasion. My husband is the first man I have been with to actually not let me walk away. If it was up to me I would have ran away month three into our relationship, but he has stuck by me and is patient with me. To deal with the new brother and sister, so far I am doing great, but then I feel guilt because I knew the type of person their mother was, and I didn't say anything. There is no evidence of sexual abuse in their past, but definite physical abuse. It is my fault they had to suffer.

In terms of therapy I don't like to share that kind of stuff, I don't want people to know, I can freely say things here, because to some extent I am anonymous. But I have aside from the therapist told exactly three people of what happened to me as a child in real life.

It is nice to have all your business out on the front porch like this for the world to see.

Even though with all these issues, it is obvious I am crazy, I feel that I would be extra crazy if I actually admitted I needed therapy to help me cope with feelings. After all did the freed slaves go to therapy. Did Rosa Parks have to have therapy. Black people are strong, just pray and everything will get better right? That is the advice I usually get from black folks when I look depressed :)

My parents instilled this in me, and they still hold this belief. K and T and my parents have therapy (as a requirement during the adoption process) and my parents think it is a waste of time, they think the kids problems can be resolved with discipline and structure. These kids for all they have been through really do need therapy. It is just hard to accept that considering my parents have been raised to think they same way I think (where do you think I got my warped sense of therapy from).

How does one get over this stigma of therapy? You certainly can't tell people you are in therapy, they will look at you crazy and call you an "Oreo".