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Black Woman’s Syndrome

by Lexx Brown-James

So, it’s 3.30a.m in the morning and as I type this I am pretty sure that everyone in this hemisphere is sleeping. Everyone, but me and people like me that is. As a Black woman I find that there never seems be enough time to do what is demanded, needed, expected and/or desired of us. I found that despite my day of doing all the necessary home chores, I kept ruminating on work I needed to complete. Did I finish this, email that, or jot down my idea for this? NO, I did not. I found that I tossed and turned –thinking- while everyone else, including the dog, began their cadence of sleep. So here I am at 3.45a.m typing a blog about how we as Black women often suffer from Black Woman’s Syndrome.

It’s not a real diagnosis – yet – but I do feel that Black women tend to take care of other’s needs beyond and above those of our own. For Black women everyone else always comes first. There’s the lover, the children, the immediate family, the job, the extended family, the community, friends, organizations and the list goes on. We juggle so many different balls in the air, we are often afraid if we lose one, all the rest will fall. Add that pressure to the sheer difficulty of being a minority in today’s society and it feels as if at times we are juggling chainsaws – if you mishandle the utensil you can cut off an appendage or even die, and then everything comes crashing down in a destructive mess.

It seems as if there is never a way to have everyone and everything taken care of so the Black woman can take care of herself. We say that we make time for us such as getting our hair/nails/eyebrows/etc. done; however, how often is that really for us versus our appearance and the affects that our appearance will have on others (i.e. family, lover, work)? When is there a time when we stop ruminating over what we have to do or who we have to take care of, so we can focus on just us?

I, frankly do not know the answer, hence it being 10 minutes to 4.00 a.m and I’m still awake. However I do believe that we have to do a better job of taking care of ourselves because if we don’t, how are we going to teach others how to take care of themselves? So I suggest taking the time to practice the “Step Up, Step Back Rule”.

It’s fine to STEP UP and assume responsibility for something, but also learn to STEP BACK by allowing someone else to take the next responsibility. Let your significant other cook (or order out), hire a maid service for the day, let someone else prepare the document and get the time needed to take care of you. Do something that makes you laugh until your insides hurt or is so relaxing you fall asleep. What about arranging a time where you can sit and read that book or watch that one movie you have been secretly coveting without feeling guilty? Learn to step back.

With all of that said [and as a person who tries her best to practice what she preaches] I am going to end this blog 2 minutes ‘til 4 a.m., take a STEP BACK by sending an email allowing someone to step up for an impending presentation and go practice some relaxation breathing techniques to quiet my mind and get some rest.

How about you?

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