Toxic Family members in the age of BLM and Covid-19
Yes, your mental health still matters
If you happen to be reading the opening sentence of this paragraph, I want to say thank you for letting me share. When we look back at 2020, it is quite possible that it will be spoken about as arguably one of the most defining shifts in human consciousness we have ever seen. Something like the Civil Rights Era and the Age of Enlightenment wrapped into one. The gravity of worldwide Black Lives Matter protests coinciding with our continued fight against Covid-19 is unmistakable regardless of where you stand on either subject.
As a BIPOC in America, a lifetime of experience in my own skin has left me more than a bit fatigued, and yet despite the human frailty I share with all of you; I feel compelled to share, connect, and attempt to make a positive contribution to society rather than keep my thoughts imprisoned in my mind.
I also happen to be someone that has accumulated my fair share of mental health issues. There is a litany of issues that could be attributed to this fact, but for the sake of this piece, I will stay on topic.
I am fortunate to be the first generation son of an immigrant from the Igbo tribe of Nigeria, and I will always be grateful for her sacrifices. That being said, my parents dealt with the same pyscho-social issues that doom a majority of relationships that also have to co-op socioeconomic issues within. Unfortunately, they were not to be outliers and their marriage ended with miscarriage and divorce.
Possibly one of the hardest things to deal with during this time has been interacting with my well-intentioned mother along with the reality of her unaddressed mental health problems and unresolved abusive and toxic actions both past and present. Picture yourself being the child of an immigrant single mother from Nigeria who is a survivor just by merit of still being a productive member of society despite all the challenges she may have faced.
Now add to the mix physical, mental, and verbal abuse. A household where being spit on and beaten was a regular occurrence along with other behavior that sends people to jail. In all honesty, between social services and her complicit friends also taking part in the gaslighting party it is a wonder that my inner child is still here.
Imagine other BIPOC adults in proximity listening to a parent verbally disparage her own childred and not see the red flags. Instead further exacerbating the isolation and self-loathing either by blatant disregard or worse, believing obvious mistruths. We as little black children needed them and they were not there.
Or, an entire municipal department that also failed to properly address this situation and perhaps have my mother take some responsibility for the devastating effects of her behavior. So they would come and they would go but ultimately we were left to fend for ourselves and do our best to become semi-functional human beings.
The aforementioned being a whisper in the winds, we are now dealing with Covid-19; which regardless of the conspiracy theorists or arm-chair health experts does in fact exist. My mother has most of the conditions that would lead to complications if she contracted it all while living in one of the most populated cities in the United States. Along with that, she is a BIPOC that has endured numerous challenges at times just by existing.
However, she does not afford this respect to her BIPOC family or otherwise and that is a tremendous strain on all of those involved. Everyone is allowed to be, regardless of whether we agree or not, but I cannot maintain my mental health and peace while interacting with someone who is being fought for yet rails against those who are just like her.
All that being said, I have to remind myself that I am not being disrespectful of her worth as a black woman of color by protecting my mental health and as much as I would like her to take responsibility for her health, this I cannot do either.
We are all responsible for how we choose to interact with the world at the end of the day; and that starts with mental health and self-worth, not self- loathing and deprecation. As a result, I have to make a daily commitment to me and keep her at a distance when or I can't say I am authentically contributing postively to arguabaly one of the most impactful times in our lives.
I suppose history will judge me by my merits, but for now, being proud of who I am, also means that I have to distance myself from those who don't see my value even if that is a BIPOC woman who happens to be my mother.
Till next time.