The pandemic gave me time to heal by choosing myself

Each week the Honey newsletter includes a column from women and LGBTQ folks in the South, in collaboration with See Jane Write. We’re always looking for more stories from you. Click here to learn more about how to get published.

By Danyale Daniels

Recently, I went back to therapy. Not for posttraumatic stress disorder or anxiety — this time. I returned to therapy simply because I need help believing in myself. As a fresh-out-of-college, newly engaged 22-year-old Black woman, I may seem self-assured, but all the changes in my present life and all the challenges of my past, have taken a toll.

If I had to pinpoint when my self-confidence first took a nosedive, it would be right around the end of my high school experience. There was so much going on from enduring verbal and mental abuse from people who claimed to love me to the awakening I was beginning to have regarding my sexuality. It’s taken me years to recover. Hell, I’m still recovering, to be quite honest.

At first, I couldn’t decipher the root cause of the trauma. Trauma in the form of being manipulated by lovers. Trauma in the form of using sex as a means of “freeing” myself. Or in other words, sleeping around to fill the void of not dealing with the shit holding me down and back. Abuse in the form of convincing myself that my body was the bargaining chip when negotiating how and if someone chose to love me.

Eventually, after hundreds of dollars and hours of therapy, I realized the root of the problem was my identity— or lack thereof. I have never had the time, support, or mental means before now that is required to truly get to know and grow into my own identity. And then there’s the idea of closure, the idea that I couldn’t move forward until those who had wronged, hurt, abused and even abandoned me gave me some kind of explanation, an explanation I felt I was owed.

It’s as if I believed that the right  explanation would simply undo any and all of the damage I had long tried to cover with baseless identities. There was the devoted daughter. The determined student. The graduate that was going places. The outgoing girl everyone could rely on. And finally, the version that showed up and showed out in the form of smiling as if everything was grand. So many versions, yet no substance in any of them to fill the void that closure once tricked me into depending on.

But I needed to know who this girl was outside all of the many hats worn. When no one was around or looking. When I was sure that no one was going to rescue me from anything, not even myself.

So I got real, but not overnight and not all of a sudden. The forced isolation of the pandemic helped me start this journey and through thought, prayer, writing, and therapy I somehow found a piece of myself I had not seen in years. Like a castaway looking for refuge, I held on. Mainly because my life depends on it. While there have been so many circumstances and tragedies that have held onto me, for the sake of my life, I decided that I am done.

The way that I see it, those who have hurt me, whether it was accidental or purposeful, can’t say anything to justify or lessen any pain caused. Would it be nice to hear an apology? Of course. But will it cause an immediate change to occur in my life and in who I am? Honestly, no. And trust that I have thought this through and played it out more times than I can count.

Frankly, the healing for me is not going to be in the “closure” or the apology. The healing has to be in the fact that despite everything I have endured or experienced, I choose me daily. I choose not to dim my light to make myself appear more pleasant. I choose not to waste time waiting around for someone to validate the act of moving forward for me. Waiting for that validation would only continue me down the path of relinquishing my power. So, no, the fallacy of closure was never good for this Black woman and her journey to healing.

Danyale Daniels is a freelance writer and the author of the guided journal Sistas on a Journey. During her free time she loves to indulge in reading and binge-watching. For more of her writing you can keep up with her through her blog sodanyale.com

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