When a Black Woman Calls Her White Therapist
I called my therapist. I did not know what else to do. I am a Christian, Black, lesbian, disabled woman. I am in many ways different from my therapist, but all I could think to do was to call her. She treats me for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In many respects, she has been my savior helping me process my past traumas. But what about my lifelong trauma of racism? She is white, privileged — what could she possibly help me with as I grapple with the current events of the day?
As have all Black people, I have been glued to the television the past few weeks (feels like years). Waiting to hear if justice would be served. We are not listening for the carnage to stop; that is just too improbable. We cannot get our hopes up that this will be the time. That this will be the violence that will finally end it all. That white people and the powers that be would say enough is enough and this will end. I am not holding my breath. Remember — “I cannot breathe.”
That knee on his neck is a reminder to me of what my place is and should be. How do I as a black person cope with this? Where do I turn to lift the pressure? I am suffocating under the weight of racism and it is curbing my ability to be the full person I am owed to be.
My therapist was outraged about what is happening and we shared in that moment together — but what I really called about was how this was all triggering me to grieve, triggering my PTSD. Here I am doing everything I can do to cope with my past childhood traumas and then my past traumas are all being triggered by my present trauma. I was not raised in the era of slavery, but I am having all the flashbacks, body memories, nightmares, anxiety and depression of my ancestors. I cannot get out of my mind the images of Black bodies raped and mutilated at the hands of their owners and the government. I am not safe anywhere. Not in my home, not in a park, not on the street, not in my neighborhood. There is nowhere for a Black girl to hide. This is what PTSD looks like.
So, I turn off the news as my therapist often recommends and I sit in my bedroom (too heavy hearted to sit in my living room). I stare into the walls and wonder if I will ever find peace in a world where girls and Black people are not safe. Will I ever be able to move about in my own country without fear of racial profiling. I think not. I have many white people in my life whom I love who are processing this alongside of me, but they will never grasp the depth of my pain. The news never ends for me. TV off or not, it is my story; it is the collective Black story. There is no turning it off.
So today my PTSD is triggered like it is on many a day like these. I want a better future for my people. America owes us that much.
Getty image via fizkes