The Black Empath Experience
My pie chart of trauma is diverse. There are many things I need to heal from, but honestly one of the experiences that I continued to internalize and down play is racism.
When I spoke to a friend earlier this week who called in to check on me, I told her that I simply got used to the disrespect when I encountered racism. I had to move on or pretend like it didn’t happen just to keep things status quo. In my experience it was futile to challenge behavior because it could be down played as me being overly sensitive, or if I chose to speak on it, I could be viewed as the aggressor. So I moved forward whenever an instance occurred and carried on.
The range of aggressions went from macro (in my childhood) to micro (from college to the present). I recall being spat in the face and called ugly as a young girl, my peers at a predominantly white college not sitting next to me in class, having issues finding an apartment due to my first name, receiving ‘compliments’ on job interviews for speaking ‘so well’, having a work colleague say in front of me that her son didn’t get into my alma mater because he was not a minority, and having my pains discounted by my first obgyn during my first pregnancy when they were indeed severe.
Now that I am a mom to 3 children who are biracial I have seen seen it already with my sons’ treatment in daycare. As my best friend pointed out, our children have little to no margin of error for their behavior unlike their counterparts.
All of these experiences were suppressed in my subconscious. As I said earlier, my pie of trauma is diverse, but I know this along with other suppressed experiences led to my #breastcancer diagnosis at 38.
One of the ways I burnt out my physical body was by doing too much. I and a lot of African - Americans were told as children that you have to work twice as hard to get the same amount of respect as our white counterparts. This well meaning heads up birthed my overachievement complex. The super woman complex (adoptEd by many black women) is rooted in counterbalancing the negative stereotypes of black people in society.
As an Empath there is an added layer to the experience of racism because you feel people’s emotions. I knew when I have a genuine ally vs feeling someone’s true disgust for me as soon as I walk through the door.
In the corporate world I couldn’t just walk into a room and show up, I have to impress from the moment I step in the room from the moment I speak. Having to constantly be ON and proving yourself is exhausting.
I come from a blood line of sensitive souls and my family cannot function in a space that is putrid to its core. Part of my reasoning for leaving corporate america was the impact it had on my body and spirit (I would literally tell people that I feel like my spirit is dying). I knew something was brewing inside but I did not know exactly what at the time.
Empaths and especially empaths of color, know you are not crazy for feeling what you feel. Find your community where you can share and release these experiences in a healthy way that promote healing and growth.