I’m very conscious of my need to liberate myself from righteous indignation. I have a Black woman need to be wounded (metaphorically speaking), victimized by my man, and to overcome in a burst of virtuous glory. I have a need to be loved, cared for (emotionally and perhaps, physically), and protected. And I have a need to be respected, done right, or all hell will break loose.
This is my third marriage, and I am no closer to understanding myself in relation to my husband than I was thirty-some years ago, when at barely-20, I first jumped the broom with husband #1. Well, perhaps a bit closer…through a relatively recent conscious practice of critical reflection, I am learning to question my knee-jerk reactions to relationship issues. But I have not yet been able to take the next step and to actually adjust my behavior to reflect my new-found enlightenment. Okay, Susan. Feel what you feel, get mad. Then let it go and move forward. As Colin Powell says, “Get mad and get over it.” But I can’t.
I hold on to this anger, wear it like a badge of righteousness. I think about it, reflect on it, but I just can’t take that step of letting go. I know I’m on my way; but I also know that I resist, resist, resist the urge to release my righteous anger. I wear it like it is the proud mantle of Black womanhood. If I allow the transformative power of reflection-in-action to free me, if I dare relax my clenched shoulders and fists and allow the robe of Black woman superiority (insecurity?) to fall around my ankles…then I will stand exposed, naked, vulnerable and guilty, like Eve in the Garden, who didn’t trust her experience of the God within her to keep her free and mighty and righteous without the sacrifice of blood.
I am a Black woman. I am powerful. I am angry. I am angry with my Black husband who won’t/can’t save me. So I must save myself. Again. And I am angry.
Where does this come from? Partly from my experience of my mother who was also a powerful (frightened?), angry Black woman, and who encouraged me to be so. But where did that come from? From her experience of her mother, who was also a powerful (insecure?), angry Black woman. And where will it end?
My daughter, at 23, resists my attempts to indoctrinate her with my just under the surface anger and my been-done-wrong attitude. “Mom, you know you’re wrong”, she calmly chastises me as I almost plead with her to understand my point of view, to take my side. At her age and beyond, I was the same way with my mother, refusing to accept her anger as my birthright. And I swore, as my daughter does, that I would never behave in such fashion…
I am a powerful Black woman. I’ll get there. Hang with me on this journey.