It is almost the end of the year. 2016 has been particularly exhausting. My choice for this year was to be myself. It was a struggle but I stood steady. I have been true to myself in all spheres of myself bar one. Extended family.
I see know, during the time of family, celebrations, sharing and acknowledgements that I am carrying one last challenge. I need to meet my extended family the same way that I meet the rest of the world.
I have tried, the universe can vouch for me. I have tried. Sent e-mails, made coffee dates, arranged to drive the hour long drive that it is the distance and the loaded space between us. The universe knows that I have tried. I am tired now and am feeling selfish. I can no longer carry this weight on my own. I want it to get off my chest!
I want to tell my extended family about how that one time when someone described a black women’s hands as being like monkey hands, the safety of what I thought family ought to be, exploded in my face and left shrapnel in my chest, travelling ever forward, slicing , month after month, closer to my heart.
I want to tell them about how attending the wedding earlier this year, I chose to wear my highest heels and black clothing because I wanted to focus on the effort it takes to walk rather than focus on how excluded I knew I would feel as a black person in a white Afrikaans space. I wanted to explain that the black that I wore, in my mind, would allow me to hide behind something darker than myself, something that would protect me, cover me, shade me.
I wanted to explain to them that I hated myself for not being able to speak to them without being angry and disappointed. I wanted to show them how I have made it my job in this world to expand the minds of those around me who are stuck and afraid. I wanted them to acknowledge how much I have tried with them and how little they have tried with me.
I wanted to show them examples of all of the most disturbing things that had happened to me this year, just this year. I wanted them to see that absolutely every single one of these things took place in the company of their family members.
When I say disturbing I mean things that quite literally make the ground that you stand on shake beneath your strong, sure legs and leave you shaking even after the earth has been still for weeks. The things that my extended family allows their extended family to say and think and feel. Disturbing.
Most of all I want to sit my extended family down and voice my concern with regards to the new child that has just been born. I acknowledge that my pain has been long coming and that my immediate family has been always able and always willing to share the load with me. But this new baby is vulnerable and susceptible and will feel the silences and the glances and snide comments, just as I do. Or to protect itself it will become just as they are. Afraid, self-protecting, closed and disconnected.
Dear extended family, there are so many things that I would like to share with you. It is the end of the year and I thought it would be a good time to allow just a few to Get Off My Chest!
image from madamenoire.com.