Finding Feminine – A Personal Journey
“Black women are the most masculine. You ladies are real ball busters!” – Dr. Pat Allen
I sat in a room full of ten African-American women and stared in awe as a short, shriveled, seventy-seven year-old old white woman read us like a book. I never met someone who knew everything about me without ever meeting me until that moment.
We were all gathered there, for a monthly group therapy session that had been going on for a couple of years. By now Dr. Pat had groups for white women, Jewish women, Asian women, and Latina women, but her group for Black women was the first of its kind. We were all there to find out what was wrong with our dating lives, and why we were not married or in happy successful relationships.
What I discovered was a doorway into myself
.Pat taught us, month by month, that because of our particular history with slavery in this country, African American women have developed a special kind of toughness that once protected us from the worst pains and travesties, but now often causes us new pains- those of loneliness and frustration. I had an epiphany when I realized that among enslaved people it was literally dangerous to show affection in traditional manners, those we loved were taken from us. So we learned, we adapted to show affection through actions that look like anger or rejection. I thought of how my family never touches each other, how the phrase “I love you,” is rarely uttered, and if so, often met with laughter. I realized this created a deep chasm for affection in me that swallowed up a lot of the people I had dated.
I started paying attention.
One of the first things I learned was that I had to take responsibility for making myself feel good. I literally made a list of twenty simple things I could do, like sit still and have a cup of tea. I had to actually write that down to remember it. It was only by making myself feel good, that I could close off that chasm, so that no one else would be consumed by it.
Over the next year, I learned the ways I had become “masculine” and how cultivating my own femininity gave me a sense of calm, freedom, and ease. It also changed every area of my life, from my body to my spirituality. It was an adventure I never saw coming.