“Oh but you’re such a strong girl, I am sure that you will work through it.” Mbore hape beloved. Naturally, I just nod and keep it moving. Mosadi o tshwara thipa ka mo bohaleng right? Why is it that women who are perceived to be strong are expected to remain that way all the time? Where is there a safe space for vulnerability? When do I take the time to just be taken care of and allowed to moan, vent or even just cry simply because I am overwhelmed.
Many women operate on “keeping it together”. We run homes and are mothers to children who, despite knowing that we are not perfect, expect their lives to operate seamlessly. We have jobs where, despite acknowledging that we are human, the expectation is to get things done. There isn’t much room to drop any of the many balls that we juggle our whole lives. So then, why do I still need to be strong in an intimate space? Why do I still have to have it together or be told by a partner that I will get through it or that I will make a plan? These are the words that finish me off. Perhaps I should be grateful that he didn’t run away or give me indefinite space?
Do we inherently always keep it together and do not display vulnerability in relationships because we are afraid of the reaction that we will get? How can you call someone your person if that space is not safe enough for you to not be well put together and in control? Why? Going on about love living here, but love doesn’t let you display your moments of non-composure or even moments of confusion when life is kicking you and you simply don’t know what to do. Surely love is not always kisses and romance? It should be a safe space to be yourself, good, bad, tired and even confused…right?
During a discussion on fragility around partners, I also noted that many women responded and noted that their men do this or don’t do that. Few, if any, mentioned what they do when their man is in a similar position and needs that TLC. That judgement free space where he can cry or articulate frustrations. I also noted that we women, for people who are known for communicating well, actually don’t articulate how we’d like to be handled when the time comes. We are so quick to say I want this and that from a man, or I want to be gifted with this and this is my love language, yet we fail to articulate; firstly, what it is we are feeling and secondly what we’d like to happen – be it a hug, an ear to listen or space to be. These are the key compatibility conversations we should be having right? I guess common sense isn’t that common because, well… bleh. I am a strong black woman akere? Mbokodo. I’ll cry at night and wake up and carry on as though all is well.
At my big age, I have come to learn that I am ill-equipped to handle my own negative emotions, let alone articulating them to my partner. I’ve had a tough few days, mainly because I have been overwhelmed with life nje, there is so much going on and I am not feeling too self-assured in a few departments of my life. Did I tell him what I have just written? Nope. Did I share as I did with my BFF? Absolutely not? Why? Akitsi. I have no idea why I keep perpetuating the nonsense that is “I am a strong black woman”, why I am not being fully vulnerable with the person who has seen my fupa in real life? What a damn joke. I do not know why I can’t come right out and articulate how I am feeling or even to say that I’m not sure, I’d like to be held or that I’d like some time alone. Haai shame adulting is showing me and I am definitely checking out of being a strong black woman.