By Ciara J., whiteboots101.ciaradanelle.com

Many of us have struggled in one way or another on this journey through womanhood whether it is with self-esteem, emotional stability or so many other factors. We have struggled to find the joy, to find the peace and the purpose in this thing called life.

At 31 I am very self aware of who I am. I am familiar with my struggles, my joys and my low points. I have come to a place where I crave peace, balance and simple joys. I have always been a loner, somewhat of a “go it alone” type of person but lately I have been learning to let others in.

One of the most difficult things about letting others in is that trust factor because going it alone has always felt safe! When I keep to myself I don’t get hurt, I don’t get betrayed or feel forsaken but that gets lonely and the issue is that I have been carrying weight that has caused my emotions to erupt at odd times.

I recently started therapy and the journey to untangling childhood/adolescent wounds. I spent much of my life feeling like my pains, my issues did not matter or that my voice did not matter. Many times we as older children hold things in, put aside our pain and take on the burdens of others. I am a ticking time bomb with the weight of the world on my shoulders and have been for quite some time.

I am learning that my feelings matter and that putting myself first is not selfish. I am learning that in order to take care of others I must first take care of me. I am a person who naturally puts others needs and emotions before my own and that may very well be the root of my health issues and my emotional outbursts.

Black women in general are often taught to “shoulder the burden” or to not share too much of themselves because our emotions are irrelevant. Many of us were raised by mothers who played the role of both parents so there was no time for self-pity, self-care or time to check mental wellness. The thought of self-care to many of our black mothers was a luxury if you think about it. This generation (my generation) has chosen to flip the script and many times we are misunderstood because of that choice.

We have learned to balance care for others and ourselves because we learned by watching, we learned by seeing our mothers struggle to give us the best of life while neglecting themselves. We learned that we do not have to take on this world while neglecting our mental and physical.

Our hippie, organic, yoga/relaxation methods are looked at as strange and if you come from a religious family/background it can be seen as unorthodox. There’s so much to unravel, so many myths to unfold because when people do not understand something they often label it as WRONG. Ignorance often keeps us stuck and we begin repeating the same unhealthy patterns generation after generation.
I believe that my generation was born to break the CURSE! We were born to be a generation of open minded, open hearted women who love ourselves first. Finding the balance is a journey and we have to make time on this journey as women in general (not just black women) to balance it all. I speak from a black woman’s perspective because that is who I am and at the end of the day our journey often takes a different sort of strength. We have been made to feel like the least, the last and the most important in this world when really we have been the backbone from the beginning. We are life givers, we are the very essence of it ALL.

I do not know how long it will take for us to learn and unlearn some things that have been passed down to us but will you stay with me? Can we learn to pack light and be at peace on this journey together? I hope so!

Ciara J. is a freelance writer from Indianapolis who blogs at whiteboots101.ciaradanelle.com. Want to share your story and write for Heartbeat Indy? Email heartbeatindy@gmail.com.