Establishing Healthy Boundaries

fence-238475_1920Boundaries are important. I’m not talking about defensive walls or impenetrable barriers. I’m talking about the things that allow you to know what your limits are, what types of relationships you are comfortable with, and how far you are willing to go in various situations. As black women we may vacillate between having boundaries that let everything and everyone in and putting up emotionally concrete walls for protection. This dynamic reflects the tension that many of us feel between wanting to be loved and cared for and feeling the need to proactively or re-actively defend ourselves against being hurt emotionally. Unfortunately, too many of us have experienced the pain of heartbreak and betrayal that prompt us to build emotional walls which may be moderately successful at keeping us from getting hurt again but also prevent us from experiencing joy and connection. Continue reading

4 Ways to Stop Silent Suffering

sky-1054733_1920Silent suffering wears on the soul. It starts with quieting the cry that wants to leap from your throat threatening to expose your pain and vulnerability. We tell ourselves we are protecting our loved ones from worrying about us or needing to step up and support us as we support them. Silent suffering continues with self-denial; judging and questioning ourselves for feeling upset, hurt, disappointed, because “we should have known better” than to get our hopes up for love, acceptance, and affirmation. Eventually, it becomes hard to connect with the parts of ourselves that are soft and vulnerable, the parts of ourselves that need love and tenderness. Silent suffering wears on the soul. Continue reading

3 Healthy Ways to Engage in Dating

Butterfly w-FlowerThe desire to be partnered is something I felt starting when I was a teenager; at age 16 I thought I would be married by the time I was 25 (ha!). I wanted an intimate emotional connection, a relationship built on mutual support and encouragement. This desire led me to engage in a number of relationships some were good, others weren’t, and I have learned a lot along the way. As black women, we are faced with unique dating challenges. There are stereotypes about our physical appearance, our attitudes, and sexual proclivities. There are assumptions that we are desperate to be in relationships and therefore willing to tolerate inappropriate behavior from partners. There are messages from the media that make it seem like black women are not desirable marriage partners or that the reason we are single is because we are too picky. This is a lot to navigate in the search for love. Continue reading

4 Healthy Ways to Get Over a Break Up

antelope-canyon-1128815_1920My last break up came suddenly; the relationship with my then-boyfriend wasn’t perfect (and in retrospect it had more problems than I acknowledged at the time) but things seemed to be going fairly well. After 7 months, for no clear reason that he could explain, he broke up with me and we never spoke again. I was heartbroken; it wasn’t the worst heart break I had ever experienced but it was painful. Break ups are hard and most of us have experienced at least one. Whether you initiated the end of the relationship or it came unexpectedly, break ups always involve some form of loss and pain. For better or worse, I have experienced a number of break ups and I have counseled people through the end of relationships that only lasted a month to people who are getting divorced after being married for more than a decade. In this post I share four healthy ways to get over a break up. Continue reading