I received this letter today and it really got to me. Please read it through–there’s a lot to take in. I’ll chime in the comments section.
I have been a lurker on your blog for the past couple of months and have greatly enjoyed the discussion being had in regards to black women issues and potentially finding a soul mate no matter their color.
Even though I have been open for the past five years about dating non-bm, I don’t believe dating and marrying is an option for me. Why? Because I am damaged goods or a DBR and as some would put it and I know it. I would more so call myself a functional DBR.
Why am I writing to you?? The reason is unclear. Maybe I wanted to shed some light on my viewpoint or maybe I needed to vent or maybe I wanted to start a dialogue with you in hopes that you would divulge just who the famous white actor is in therapy with his black girlfriend/possible fiancé’. LOL!!
Admitting this openly is something that I wouldn’t normally do, but I guess I felt it had to be said openly to someone in the hopes of preventing or reducing the number of functional DBR women produced in the black community. Even though I’m only sharing my story, I’m sure there are many more instances of black women who share the same background as me. If you decide to share my story, please keep my name anonymous and not disclose it in your post.
When I first began writing this email, I ended up with 4 pages before I could even blink due to all the history and emotional traumas I have endured. After trying to condense everything down to a page or two, I realize that the 4 pages are necessary for you to fully understand where I am coming from.
Now back to my original statement. To understand why I classified myself as a functional DBR, I have to break it up into two parts explaining the functional and the DBR separately thus explaining my single status which I will probably surely keep until the day I die.
To explain the functional is to give you an overview of my accomplishments and goals. I am a single, never been married, college graduate, naturalista; female in my 30’s who has been working in the corporate world for about 9 years now. I am a 5’8 southern girl born and raised in a southern state who averages between a 12-16 size at any given moment. A friend of mine would call me an athletic 14, because I’ve always been an athlete even though I don’t exercise as much as I should. I try to eat healthy here and there, but alas I am a junk food junkie. So far I haven’t been diagnosed with any illnesses or diseases, so unlike many of my relatives, I am not on medication for anything. No diabetes, no high blood pressure, cholesterol, etc. I come from a college oriented family with not only my parents earning degrees, but with my siblings earning degrees as well which is not the norm in my family.
Career wise, after dabbling in management for a year and a half, I decided to venture back into an analyst role due to the influx of IT jobs that are available with nice salaries and the potential to work from home part-time or full-time. I figured a role such as this with the ability to work from home two days a week would be beneficial for me financially wise and provide the work life balance I desperately need due to being a single mother raising a young daughter. Because of this career change, I relocated my daughter and myself on my own dime to an area close to one of your favorite cities in the world, Atlanta. LOL!!
Now why would a single educated woman who does consider herself attractive, move to a place with no support system and a small pool of quality available men?? Frankly, I felt it wouldn’t be any different socially wise than my life previously, but felt it would provide more opportunities for my daughter and myself. Not to mention that my old office was basically a crabs in a barrel scenario with only Caucasians and Hispanics occupying upper management roles despite the office being almost primarily comprised of AA women.
After being here for awhile, I can say, my social life hasn’t changed. The work environment has with a plethora of races that work in my office and the same being reflected in upper management positions. My daughter is currently taking gymnastics and I am currently looking for a martial arts program here for her and myself. I believe all women should know how to defend themselves.
The hope is that I can work in my current role for a couple of years and I can either continue with my current company and start the business that I desperately desire to start and eventually buy a home, or work for a few years and find employment elsewhere with a company offering a better salary/benefit package and the option to work from home full-time.
After reading all of that with a list of my accomplishments and hopes and desires, some would question why exactly I consider myself a DBR. Heck, after writing all of that, I start to question myself for a brief moment. Those doubts slowly fall away when you peel back the surface and look deeper.
Well it has to do with the environment I was raised in which I’m sure could spark some nature vs. nurture discussions. Up until about the age of 13, I lived in a two parent toxic household, not in the hood but in the country. As far back as I can remember, I can remember my parents getting into heated discussions which usually resulted in physical harm to my mom. I spent plenty of nights in my room or in the living room trying to ignore or block out the sounds of them arguing.
Usually when the arguments happened, my brothers and I would just sit in silence and try to ignore the sounds coming from the bedroom. I don’t recall any of us saying or doing anything, but I know that we wish we could. Being the youngest, a lot of times I felt helpless and hoped that it would just end. The only outlet or break we had from the arguments were when we participated in extracurricular activities, vacations, or visited relatives for family and play time with cousins. Unfortunately, that wasn’t always the best place for me. Not to go into too much details, but I fell prey to what happens or at least happens to some young girls when it comes to male relatives.
I can’t say that I was forced; I just didn’t know or understand what was going on at the time. Incidents happened with various relatives on both sides of my family. When I understood what was going on, I began to blame myself continuously. I didn’t know how to stop it and felt my parents couldn’t assist. Many of nights I laid crying in my room first blaming myself for what was happening to me, and then blaming myself for being upset. After all, there are a lot of other people in the world who had it worst than me.
All of these issues of course took a toll on me. A round of chicken pox opened up the door for me to vent my frustrations by picking at my skin continuously. I occasionally would have moments, usually when I am at home alone, where I would feel myself getting dizzy and blacking out for a brief second which may or may not result in me collapsing on the floor. My mother would later leave my dad with me joining her shortly after to begin high school in the city. With any incidents with relatives not occurring in recent years and moving from the hostile environment with both of my parents to living with just one, you would think I would be better. Unfortunately, my mom tended to really spread her wings with her new found freedom and often I was left to my own devices on many nights. I was always an honor student getting good grades, an athlete participating in many school sports, and was even in band. With all of that and my mom having no knowledge of the other issues I had outside of her marriage (compulsive skin picking excluded because that was always obvious just don’t think there was a name for it back then) so maybe she felt there was no need to worry about me.
Well, I would continue to compulsively pick at my skin (still do). I would continue to have what I found out later to be anxiety attacks and I would continue to venture into sexual relationships with non-relative boys. Something that had actually started before we left the country.
All of these issues would eventually come to a head and continue so after I graduated from high school with honors. First with my mom finding out I was sexually active courtesy of an STD I acquired from a random hook-up. Mix that with my less than stellar grades in college with multiple Fs making appearances. There were multiple blow-ups with my mom with her understanding and not understanding my behavior. I even remember getting into it with one of my brothers because he was furious with me for a report card showing failing grades I received one semester. In a crying fit, I tried to explain how I felt with all of the things that I had been through and how it was weighing heavily on me. Suffice to say, he couldn’t really understand considering my grades were always stellar in school since I graduated high school with honors. But seriously, what help could he have been anyway.
I would continue to barely get by in school with my upbringing constantly haunting me with the continuing issues with my parents not getting along despite separating (now divorced, mom remarried) which is still an issue today. The summer before my senior year, I unfortunately got with a DBR black man, would end up pregnant with him moving to the city I lived in with me while I attended college. I pushed on with my DBR who had not graduated high school and was only able to get minimum wage jobs. While I also worked a minimum wage job, while attending classes and completing various projects in class because I was determined to finish college.
I was able to graduate but had to move back home since it was almost time for me to have the baby. And let’s face it, my DBR man was no help at all with him getting fired from the job he had. He who also was a product of a two parent household. Fast forward, years later with me raising my daughter on my own for the past nine years. My last relationship was with my daughter’s father which ended badly and in a disrespectful way, which frankly after typing all of this makes me too tired to even go into it especially since it shouldn’t have been a surprise. He is basically non-existent and barely helps out financially or otherwise. Because I made a bad decision, my daughter has to deal with the consequences with her showing signs of low self-esteem. With a history of depression in my family, I’m trying my best to break the pattern. I hug her and tell her I love her everyday and am actively working to make sure she understands that she is a beautiful black girl and to never be ashamed of that. She is also a naturalista since I refuse to perm her hair. Because of this, she has long thick hair and not short damaged hair like many of her classmates who Moms decided it was ok to perm their hair at 4 or 5.
Now that you understand the functional and the DBR sides to me, it may shed some light on why I said I will be single for the rest of my life. How could I ask a man to deal with all of that, when I barely manage it day to day? How could I ask a quality man to deal with me considering I look like the lost black Dalmatian from 101 Dalmatians when I don’t have make up on? Occasional bouts of Eczema now help to exacerbate my skin picking compulsion.
Honestly, I don’t know if I want to be in a relationship with fear that I may end up with a man that may try to hurt my daughter or me. I would never be able to forgive myself, if I unknowingly invited a man like that into our lives. At one point, I continued to hook up with a few men here and there if for occasional comfort, but have decided some time ago to cut that out since my daughter is getting older and don’t want her to pick up that behavior. I’m trying to raise her the right way, so here I am single and celibate.
At this point, I know you may ask why I haven’t sought psychological help. Well I have tried courtesy of my jobs EPA program which only provides 5 or 6 free sessions a year. Beyond that, with raising a child and a massive student loan debt, I am not able to get the help I need financially wise. The few sessions I had helped me to understand that I suffer from major depression, anxiety, and compulsive skin picking disorder. All of which I have had since I was a child. The therapist even mentioned whether I have considered going into a facility for a few weeks?? It crossed my mind, because I know that I am severely emotionally damaged, but being a single mother, who has time for that? I’m not a rich celebrity who can hire a nanny to take care of my daughter and an assistant to make sure the bills continue to be paid while I seek help. I am a single working mother. That is my reality. My family can’t help. After finding out rights and wrongs done by both parents and their continuous inability to try and let go for the sake of their grown kids, it has constantly crossed my mind to just cut them off completely since I have no room left within me to handle their continuous drama. After switching between taking sides for who was at fault for the decline of their marriage, I no longer care. Family get togethers are usually ruined because of this, despite the fact that my siblings and I are trying to move on. One brother is on his second marriage and the other is getting married (first marriage).
Don’t get me wrong, I would love to find the right man for me. The one who will love and cherish me and give my daughter the father figure she so desperately needs. Independence is tiring for me. And I have found myself wishing often, that someone would rescue me. Alas, I know there is now knight, white or black or otherwise, in shining armor to rescue me. I have come to terms that I am beyond rescuing. Now I live my life day by day, trying to raise my daughter the right way. Taking what I have learned in life and from reading various BWE blogs in the hopes that she will have the knowhow to break the chains, break the cycle. A lot of times, I feel like I am failing her due to my emotional issues, but I push on in hopes that she grows up knowing her worth, her options, and that she doesn’t fall prey to the perpetual stereotypes that are preventing some black women from leading a happy healthy life.
After 4 pages, the reason for me writing this email is finally clear to me. Most parents constantly worry about their children and want the best for them. Raising a young black girl has multiplied my fear, due to the uncertainty of the world she would grow up in. But due to the changing tide with non bm and people in general understanding the worth of a bw coupled with blogs like yours, I have hope. Maybe not for me, but I have hope for my daughter. Thank you and all the black women like you for taking the initiative and showing the world that not all black women are loud and ghetto even if we have a reason to be. Thank you for being an example of an intelligent funny black woman who is kind and shows that not only do black women deserve to be loved, but that we can love with the best of them.