Don’t live for those who won’t die with you

I read this Somali guy’s IG post where he dedicated the caption to his mum for mother’s day. He wrote about a memory in Somali that to him encapsulates motherhood. And it disturbed me so deeply that I haven’t been able to shake it off since.

He said he’d left the masjid after morning classes and was starving. In front of the masjid was an older lady who sold cup of oat, poured from a thermos she was carrying around. He had 2 cups from that and went home. There he was met by his mum who was making canjeela (somali pancakes) and had prepared for him a plate of pancakes and some tea, which he turned down because he was full. He went to his room talking to some girl when after a while his mum came in with steaming liver that she’d stir-fried and the pancakes. Apparently she had gone out to buy fresh liver to make it for him specifically. She said hooyo, here have some breakfast. I know you turned it down because it was dry so I bought and made you the liver you loved. He said he was so shocked and too embarrassed to turn her down after everything she went through so he ate it.

He concluded by saying this experience taught him that despite her not having had anything to eat she put him first and his satisfaction meant more to her than anything else. He said a mother is the one who feeds you when you’re hungry, treats you when you’re ill and the only one who will sacrifice her life for you.

The reason this disturbed me is because I saw how implicit we women are in erasing ourselves even when there’s nothing at stake, like with our kids. We’ve identified with being needed, and we’re chronically codependent as a collective. And it’s this underbelly that goes unresolved when we speak about what women go through. We’re always the victims and we never speak about ways to take back our sovereignty (not queendom) and personal power even in the face of the worst tyranny.

I was watching a short clip of Iyanla fix my life where Rick Ross’s ex fiance was on. He was engaged to her when she was just 22 and it fizzled out not long afterward. She was a stripper and he met her at the strip clubs.

She said

I’d like our black men to value us and they don’t. When I’m angry I like to drink, I like the way it makes me feel. It makes me forget my pain, my hurt, my heartbreak.

We’ve gone to such extents of projecting our shadows on men when they don’t act in a way pleasing to us as if they are innately obliged to do so, because we want to cancel out the inner pain by outer pleasure. And as long as we come from a displaced place, as long as we don’t belong in our own bodies, our own psyche, our own being, we’ll continue to seek out people who mask just as we do. No one can face another’s shadow. It’s unique to who you are and is part of your journey.

The offensive and oppressive structures and constructs are also a part of the journey. They aren’t permanent fixtures because they weren’t created by God. But they will remain for as long as we turn away from our own oppression that we mete out against ourselves every time we erase our needs, every time we minimize our will, every time we discount our intuition, every time we let others disrespect us because we don’t want to seem too sensitive or difficult, every time we distrust our discernment. All those instances then play out in the world where we continue to live in circumstances where those coping mechanisms are active and necessary.

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