By: Jamia Bryant
They say too much power corrupts and destroys, and that being a Black Girl in America, you have to act a certain way and look at certain way just to be seen worthy in the eyes of those who can’t deal with how amazing our melanin really is. But no one tells you how much strength you possess within, until it is time to use that strength. Transitioning from a Black girl to a Black Woman is a pivotal moment in one’s life, because you are finally in a position where you are in control of your life.
During my transition phase no one told me what I would have to face, or the struggles I would have to overcome. No one told me or even warned me about the amount of tears that would be shed and how my spirit would be broken into a million pieces. But I guess that’s life right? You roll with the punches and you keep your head up because that’s the right thing to do right? Having that mentality is what broke me, and not believing that I was worth it corrupt me. They say honesty is the best policy so why not help someone who may be in the position I once was in. So here’s my story on how a broken spirit found restoration.
My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was 12 ½ years old. I have two younger siblings and as most daughters who have a mother or a mother figure in their lives, our mothers mean the world to us, especially mine. I didn’t know what cancer was but I did know that cancer was the enemy. The reason I say cancer is the enemy is because from my eyes it took away a piece of my mother.
My mom was sick all the time, she lost her hair, and lost her confidence within herself. I saw the woman who went to work every day, who gave me and my siblings anything we wanted in a position of weakness. How could this be when all the women in my family were prime examples of black, talented, strong, spiritual woman? How can a woman be weak and yet still be strong? That was the question I had, but never had the courage to ask anyone.
I saw my mother fight for her life, and while she was fought I was drowning. Depression set in and it got so bad that suicidal thoughts beagn to creep in m mind. I hated myself, I hated the way I looked, and the way I was. I hated the fact that my mother who was the best mother in my eyes had to deal with something like this.
I was scared and confused, and uneducated about the situation at hand. Traumatized by the fact that my mother had cancer, I was afraid to leave her. I would skip school, sit on the porch step and wait until she came to get the mail. Or sometimes I would just sit in the park and watch people pass me by. I know it was wrong trust me I do, but with the pain I felt inside I wanted to die.
As things got better with my mom, I on the other hand was crying for help, but no one could hear me. Not attending school caused me to fail the 7th grade and I was held back. I was upset at myself, and I was highly discouraged because I had let myself go from an “A” student to an “F” student. I took my loss and did the 7th grade over again.
Things were going good and I was doing well in school, but the thought of me being behind a year in school, was too much to deal with, so I made the decision to go to an alternative school my junior year of high-school. I was embarrassed because I didn’t want anyone talking about me, and I was afraid of people’s judgment. Going to Grand View High School was one of the best decisions that I have ever made. They supported me and actually cared about my education.
Being that I was a junior entering into their school, my goal was to graduate in 2011 my right year instead of 2012. This meant that I had to do two years in one year. The assistant principal told me that a lot of kids came into the school with the same goal and majority of them do not achieve that goal. I on the other hand knew that this was what I wanted to do. My mind was already made up. I was determined to graduate in 2011. The school year was great I took regular classes and online classes.
Finally, I thought my life was coming together until my mother found out she had breast cancer again. The difference between when I was 13 and when I was 17 was that I was able to do my own research about cancer. My attitude and approach on my mother’s illness was different. This time I tapped into the strenth that I did’nt know that I possessed. My mother had surgery, but no chemo which was a huge blessing.
I remember the moment my mom called me and told me, I was in school and was already nervous because I had been waiting on her to call me. Once I received the call and she told me, everything around me felt like a blur and I remember breaking down in the hallway while my favorite teacher Mr. Max helped me to the office. This was the same exact reason why I failed the 7th grade before and here I was trying to do two years in one year to graduate and then this happened.
The amazing thing about having such amazing people behind you is that the little things they do turn into big things that will be with you for the rest of your life. I was able to take online classes while being able to take care of my mother. At 17 I was my mother’s helper, I did everything. Online classes for high-school, cooking, cleaning, taking care of my siblings, while attending my mother’s doctors’ appointments. It was a lot but I found myself facing a lot of pressure but I kept it all in. I had no control of my depression and I was not happy, but I did not let it show. Strangely, suicidal thoughts did ot creep into my mind this time. I know that may sound weird and odd, but it’s the truth.
Months passed by and I was tried to maintain my schooling which was hard, but after all of the tears and the hard work I reached my goal by doing two years in one year and graduating with thee class of 2011. In that moment I saw how powerful I really was ,but I was still afraid of the power I possessed because I was broken inside.
2012 rolled around and I was enrolled in College. I was excited because I needed a fresh start, but that didn’t happen. My mothers heart was in bad shape and she was going in and out of the hospital. The chemotherapy she had to undergo the first time she had cancer had caused her to develop a heart condition. Around the same time my younger brother was in the hospital for over 6 months because he was having seizures, and my grandfather was diagnosed with prostate cancer.
One would say how in the world can one deal with so much and still keep going. In all honesty, God. My grandfather passed away and my brother came home two months before his birthday. My mother was now caner free but she was diagnosed with CHF (congestive heart failure).
My mom received medication and things were finally easing up. I was still attending college, because my education is very important to me. In 2014 my mother’s heart started to fail her and she was admitted in the hospital again. It really hit me once the doctors started saying there was nothing they could do, and that my mother only had a year left to live.
I remember that moment so clearly. It was like my heart was crushed and I remember crying in the hallway and my grandmother talking to me. I couldn’t give up, I just couldn’t even though I wanted to so bad. I prayed and I prayed because my family needed a miracle and one showed up. My mother received a V.A.D. machine that was placed inside of her heart to help pump more blood into her body and bring more oxygen to her body.
During all of this, one thing that I remember is how strong my mother was. She cried once and after that I have never seen her cry about her situation again (well not in front of me or my siblings at least). I decided to quit my job to take care of my mom while I still was going to school. Even through all of those hard moments I graduated in 2014 in August with my degree in Psychology.
What I will say to all Black women is do not, and I repeat do not give up on yourselves. Do not conform to society and their standards for your life. There were many people who told me I was not going to be able to graduate in my right year in high-school, but I did. There were even people who told me that by staying home to go to College I would not be able to receive my degree but I did.
My story goes to show you that you have something special inside of you.
You may be in a dark place right now but you will transition into the woman that you are destined to be. Through all of this hell I discovered myself. I learned to love and cherish myself. I let relationships go that were no good for me because I had low self-esteem.
I no longer put myself last, I learned to put myself first. My spirit was restored because I finally opened up to my family about how I was feeling and what I was dealing with. My faith in myself and God is what helped me to grow and to prosper. I was no longer ashamed of being myself and having flaws and being imperfect. I learned to embrace the power I possess within.
I was reunited with my crown and now I let it shine as bright as it can. We as women no matter our upbringing or the challenges we face in life should not let our circumstances define us. Do not be afraid of being passionate or voicing your opinions because in a world that is trying to silence Black women we need to speak and speak loudly even if our voices shake. I owe who I am to the amazing women I have in my life. Because of their prayers, talks, and being wonderful examples in my life, I am the woman I am today.
Now that I am 23 and have my depression under major control (no medication), I have more learning to do and more growing to do. One thing that I know is the sky is the limit and I plan on making the best out of this life that I have been given. To all of you amazing, fearless women keep grinding and keep pushing, because no one no matter how hard they try can never be you. I have to thank the broken girl I use to be, because she brought me back to the real me. Keep those crowns high Queens!