Love and Relationships

How My Breakup Taught Me to Let Go of Stereotypes

By: Taisiah Amina

There are a lot of negative stereotypes that follow black women and one in particular that I dislike is the way that black women are portrayed in the media and society as strong, independent, resilient and stubborn. The list goes on and makes it seem as if we don’t need to depend on anyone but ourselves.

Although in certain situations, this may be true in order to get through some issues we face, it doesn’t mean that we don’t want someone to depend on or even help us out. Now I’m sure there are women out there who embrace these stereotypes without realizing it and aren’t aware of the damage they are creating. It’s like you completely cut yourself off to other people who offer a helping hand in those times of struggle.

But how does this help us as black women in society today? Does it give us the correct model to follow when we get ourselves into sticky situations? These stereotypes actually hold us back and teach us to not speak up when we really need to. There are real life consequences when we refuse to speak up and let people in when help is desperately needed. I want to open up about a situation I was in for a fairly long time and how not reaching out for help seriously damaged me emotionally.

I was in an emotionally abusive relationship for about four years and coming out of it really taught me a lot about myself . I was afraid to ask for help back then, after all I was 19 and thought I was the most independent person around. At 19, no one knows everything or has everything together but I sure thought I did.

It took me three years to figure out how helpless I was and one year to finally have the courage to free myself of the situation I was in. He was 6’2, Dominican and a musician, DJ to be exact and he was my first real relationship. He was 21 at the time and really focused on developing his music to gain more exposure. He really inspired me to work harder for what I wanted and to never take no for an answer.

He was a really sweet guy and so thoughtful that I began to fall for him pretty quickly and suddenly we were dating. I soon realized that the person I was dating started to transform into someone else each day. I don’t know when the insults started but they were hard to swallow and get over.

He would comment on my body and say I needed a bigger butt, complain about the clothes I would wear, get jealous if I spoke to other men, etc. That was when I seriously began to question myself and how I looked. I assumed that this type of behavior was normal and just went along with it. I never communicated with my friends or family to express how I was really feeling and how this relationship was far from perfect.

I was afraid of looking foolish and naïve in front of those I love because I always believed I needed to have everything altogether. I was very stubborn when it came to asking for help because I had a lot of pride. My confidence in myself was definitely dwindling and it kept getting worse.

There came a point when I made the decision to go natural and just try something completely new for myself. As many of us know going natural is a very scary thing whether you big chop or transition into it, it’s a very self-conscious event that’s occurring and when I transitioned it was VERY strange for me.

At first, he seemed to be supportive and thought what I was doing was brave but when the transition was finally complete, everything changed. He began to criticize how I did my hair and how it looked. My beauty came into question because of my hair and if I was actually trying. So I did what he asked and tried harder to make myself more attractive so that he would appreciate me. I suddenly noticed that it wasn’t my hair or makeup that he was dismayed by it was me.

I couldn’t understand what exactly I was doing wrong at this point. I felt the opposite of strong and independent. I felt helpless, alone and confused. I couldn’t take the unhappiness I was feeling within myself and got to a point where I was desperate for help and advice. I reached out to one of my friends and revealed everything that I had been hiding for the past three years.

I felt such a tremendous weight lifted from my shoulders and such peace when she gave me advice. The advice she provided me was so simple yet effective. “Let him go.” (She obviously said more than this phrase but it cut me deep). That phrase resonated in me intensely because regardless of how he treated me I was still attached to him and everything about him. It was like I was having withdrawals from an infectious drug that I couldn’t help but take more in. But that phrase “Let him go” was bouncing around in my brain for days and I had to make a decision.

I spoke with my friend again on how I would be able to move forward and how I could ever love and trust someone again after all this? “Until you’re willing to put yourself first and love yourself first, you won’t get past this. But when you do make that decision, finding someone else will be a little easier because you will know what you want and won’t take less,” she explained.

When I heard those words, I was finally able to view things through a different lens. I gathered up all my courage and broke off our relationship. He was confused and was determined to draw me back in but my friend’s words were so powerful to me that I didn’t allow that to happen.

I was afraid, insecure, and dependent but I needed help. When I finally asked for help that’s when I became strong, resilient and brave because I had someone to support me through my pain. After going through that heartbreak, not only did I learn to put myself first but to also extend my hand for others who may feel alone like I did. When you have overcome the obstacles of life, eventually, great things start to happen and you find yourself in an awesome place.

I have improved in many areas including the love department and found myself with someone who is beyond incredible. So I thankfully received a happy ending and I know you will too. Just remember asking for assistance is never beneath or above you so always ask, you never know what may happen.

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